Magistrate’s court implements measures in preparation for trial

Basseterre, St. Kitts, May 15, 2020 (SKNIS): As St. Kitts and Nevis continues to work to stop the spread of COVID-19, the Magistrate’s Court has implemented several precautionary measures in preparation for trial.

“They have reduced the list to no more than 25 matters per day. This will eliminate congestion outside the courthouse and in Independence Square. Once a criminal case is filed, the earliest court date available is assigned and the summons is issued for service. On proof that the summons was served, the case will be listed for court and only served cases will be listed. If the date is not served a new date will be given,” said Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs, Diana Francis, at the May 14 edition of the National Emergency Operations Center (NEOC) COVID-19 Daily Briefing. “The District B Court list will be limited to 20 matters. The District B Magistrate will accommodate a maximum of 12 new matters each day reserving the other eight (8) slots for trials, facts, sentencing etc.”

Ms. Francis said that security will ensure that everyone who accesses the court adheres to safety protocols.

“The Court security will ensure that the litigants and their witnesses maintain a distance of 6-feet apart and adhere to the social distancing protocols. Everyone who enters the Court building must wear a face mask or a similar protective gear and they must sanitize their hands with the hand sanitizer located at the entrance,” said the permanent secretary. The bar tables, prisoners dock, witness stand, and court seating will be sanitized regularly.

She added that only clients and representatives will be allowed in the courtroom at a given time, all parties must wear a mask when occupying the courtroom and social distancing of at least 6-feet must be observed inside the courtroom and at the bar table. All courtrooms will be cleaned and sanitized daily.

PS Francis said that the court will play its part to ensure that all parties are updated on relevant matters.

“There will be no call overs. The court office will contact the parties directly to confirm dates and availability of lawyers and new hearing arrangements and then the list would be published. The parties would be contacted by court staff whose hearing are scheduled to appear and work… through the list as quickly as possible,” she said. “The Magistrate’s Court will convey urgent matters particularly maintenance, police and criminal, traffic prosecutions and civil cases. Priority will be given to all bail, maintenance and custody cases and application for domestic violence and protection orders will be dealt with as a matter of urgency.”

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