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The Jamaican Court System

By Jamwade Oct 14, 2013 1631 Words
Based on the English common law .
Judicial independence is guaranteed by the Jamaican Constitution. The Chief Justice:
Head of the Jamaican Judiciary.
Appointed by the Governor General of Jamaica, on the recommendation of the Prime Minster after consultation with the Leader of the Opposition.

Shows the hierarchy of Courts in The Jamaican Judicial system

Civil Proceedings including Matrimonial matters,
Probates, Judicial Review and other Judicial
Proceedings

NB. All the above courts are presided over by Resident Magistrates

COURT OF
APPEAL
•Highest
Appellate Court
•Headed by a
President
•Court’s
judgments may
be appealed to
Her Majesty-inCouncil via
Judicial
Committee of
the Privy Council,
London.

SUPREME COURT

CRIMINAL DIVISION

•Established
under the
Judicature
(Supreme Court)
Act

•Cases for offences
which may attract
the death penalty
and/or punishable
with imprisonment
exceeding five (5)
years.

•Has unlimited
original
jurisdiction in
criminal and civil
cases.

•Sits for three (3)
terms: Hilary
(January to April),
Easter (April to July),
and, Michaelmas
(September to
December).
•Sits in circuits in all
rural parishes at
specified times
during each term,
while the home
Circuit Court deals
with cases for the
parishes of Kingston
and St. Andrew

HIGH COURT
CIVIL DIVISION

COMMERCIAL
DIVISION

Hears civil
proceedings
including:

Hears claims
arising out of
trade and
commerce
including:

•Matrimonial
matters,
•Probate,
•Judicial Review
and
•Judicial
Proceedings
under the
Constitution.

•Admiralty
Proceedings,
•Banking,
•Insurance,
•Hire Purchase
Transactions,
•Contracts And
•Questions
Arising From
Commercial
Arbitrations.

•Commercial
matters are also
heard in other
Civil Courts at
the Supreme
Court level.

GUN COURT
•Tries all criminal
cases involving
firearms except
murders.
•Established by
parliament in
1974 to combat
rising gun
violence and
was
empowered to
try accused
persons in
camera, without
a jury.

REVENUE
COURT
•Established
under the
Judicature
(Revenue
Court) Act
•Has jurisdiction
over matters
pursuant to
various tax
legislation, after
the taxpayer
has exhausted
all
administrative
avenues for
appealing a
taxation
decision.

RESIDENT
MAGISTRATE’S
COURT
•Established in all
parishes of Jamaica.
•Have limited jurisdiction to
hear both civil and criminal
cases as prescribed by the
Judicature (Resident
Magistrates) Act.

•Has no power to hold trials
of certain criminal offences
including treason, murder
and rape. However, a
Preliminary Enquiry is held
to determine whether the
evidence is sufficient for
the accused to stand trial
at the Supreme Court.

CORPORATE AREA
COURTS
•The Corporate Area
Criminal Court, located
at Half Way Tree, deals
with all criminal cases for
the parishes of Kingston
and St. Andrew
•The Corporate Area Civil
Court at Sutton Street
deals with all civil cases
for the two (2) parishes
•The Family Court,
Coroner’s Court,
Children’s Court, Traffic
Court, Small Claims
Court, the Gun Court
(R.M. Division) and the
Tax Court are
specialized divisions
presided over by
Resident Magistrates.

RESIDENT MAGISTRATE’S
COURT – SPECIALIZED
DIVISION
Presided over by
Senior Resident
Magistrates
•The Family Court,
•The Coroner’s Court
•The Children’s Court
•The Traffic Court
•The Small Claims
Court,
•The Gun Court (R.M.
Division) and
•The Tax Court

Ministry of Justice
To provide the legal and policy framework within which justice services are efficiently and effectively delivered to all.
Project Objectives

To collect, collate, store and disseminate accurate and timely information to all required sources on behalf of the Jamaican Judiciary. For example, to such sources as the Jamaica Crime Observatory (JCO), the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), the Ministry of Justice and the Coexistence and Citizen Security Standardized Regional Indicator System.





There is presently no statistical unit based at the Court of Appeal, the Supreme Court of Jamaica or in the Resident Magistrates Courts. The responsibility for data collection and storage is carried out by the Strategic Planning, Policy Research and Evaluation Division of the Ministry of Justice.

Important
This project will enable the formation of a Court Statistics Unit/Department to be established at the Supreme Court of Jamaica and this unit will be able to assist in fulfilling the mandates of the Jamaica Crime Observatory and the Coexistence and Citizen Security Standardized Regional Indicator System.

Functions
Collate, store and disseminate accurate and timely data to all required sources. Analysis of data to inform policies for Jamaica’s development Grant the public access to specified data via the Supreme Court’s website. www.sc.gov.jm

Chief Justice, Database Administrator, Statistician (Full Access)

Court Administrators, Judges (Partial Privileges to Summary Data)

Supervisors (Partial Privileges to Summary Data)
Data Entry Clerks and Other clerks (partial access including data entry privileges)

The Public (viewing privileges)











System Name : Judicial Enforcement System (JEMS)
Designed for advanced court functionality to initiate, maintain, track and calendar cases with efficiency through to the disposition.
Increased accountability, productivity and enhanced efficiency in the courts. Features of the Judicial Enforcement System (JEMS)
Real Time Processing and Scheduling of cases for court
Performs task in real time such as rescheduling cases and updating files in court. Automated Court Processes
Allows the court to define and automate virtually any simple procedure which will minimize training needs and room for errors in the system. It also will improve efficiency and accuracy of the courts’ workflow processes. Court Document Generation

Allows the system to design and print any number of forms or other documents including outputting data entered into JEMS.

Advanced Information Sharing
Supports multiple court agencies through facilitating information sharing and the duplication of entry is minimized. This feature also supports the setting up of security levels and restrictions within the system.

Advanced Technology Add-Ons
The software fully integrates with add-ons such as imaging, e-signatures, e-filing, Pocket JEMS and mobile JEMS.

About two (2) years ago JEMS was introduced in the Resident Magistrate’s Court in Clarendon as a pilot project. At that time the plan was to use the server at the Supreme Court as the storage area for court data. Nodes would link the server at the Supreme court with computers in the Resident Magistrates Court. However, there is currently no interconnectivity between the courts and a wide area network is now needed to link all courts.

JEMS was recently upgraded at the Supreme Court and training is currently taking place for all court personnel. The staff of the Resident Magistrates Courts will need to be trained to use the system.









Data is presently collected manually from the court sheets by assigned staff members in all the courts across the island, based on requests from the Ministry of Justice and other entities.
Supreme Court and Circuit Courts
Data is collected manually from the court sheets at the end of the term and sent to the Ministry of Justice. The court is attended by one clerk per court which makes it extremely difficult for data entry especially in courts in which cases are set for mention ,where the volume of work is heavy.

Gun Court
Data is collected manually from the court sheets on a quarterly basis. This collection process is fraught with difficulties and may result in inaccurate figures because of the volume of work presently in the Gun Court. The Gun Court currently handles 25-30 new cases per week.

The process of entering cases into JEMS had commenced in the Gun Court but that process had to be stopped because of the volume of work and lack of equipment (computers, data entry personnel etc.).

Resident Magistrates Court


Data is collected daily from court sheets or whenever the need arises. However the court sheets are usually in court during the days and unavailable to the staff during working hours.



Handles over 125 listed cases on a weekly basis, depending on the parish in which the court is situated.



Except in the parishes of Kingston and St. Andrew where there is a designated Traffic Court The Resident Magistrates Courts handle traffic cases which run into the hundreds on a weekly basis.









No such analysis is currently being undertaken by the
Jamaican Court System
Court Management Services recently assumed the mantle of
directing the development of the Jamaican Court System
from the Ministry of Justice
It is envisioned that with the genesis of this programme and the full implementation of the Court Management Services,
the courts will now be empowered to conceptualize and
implement its own research policies, which would include
delinquency analysis methodologies
However, JEMS will be able to capture demographic data on
recidivism



Due to the entry of the Jamaican society into the information age more accurate data is now being required by various entities as well as International Agencies. Consequently, there is now an urgent need for the courts to manage their own databases and be involved in the production, storage and dissemination of that data.



They must now be equipped to assist the research process in developing policies for the Jamaican Citizenry.



There are various legislations and regulations requiring periodic forwarding of reports, returns and notices to external agencies relating to children for example but difficulties are being experienced by the courts in fulfilling their obligations due to lack of resources.

• Number of cases for trial in that term
• Number of cases disposed of during the term
• Number of cases traversed to another term
• Number of cases in which Nolle Prosequis are entered
• Number of cases transferred
• Bench Warrants Issued

• Probation Orders granted
• Guilty Pleas taken

Ruling

Cases
D.P.P.
Investigation (J.C.F)

Supreme Court

M.O.J.

Other agencies

Complaints

Cases
Investigation (J.C.F.)

Resident Magistrate Court
( Clerk of Courts)
Ruling

The above diagram shows the information flow for the Supreme Court and Resident Magistrates Court for criminal matters.

700

635

600
530
500
400

408
344

300

Total Kgn & St. Andrew

281
248

200

282

167

100

14

0
Rape

Carnal
Abuse

36

Incest

36 41

Indecent
Assault

Buggery

Abduction

Total Other Areas of Jamaica

300
255

246

250

200
158
150

Total Kgn & St. Andrew
101

100

107

97
75
46

50
5

18

8

20

0
Rape

Carnal
Abuse

Incest

Indecent
Assault

Buggery

Abduction

Total Other Areas of Jamaica

Divisions

2010

Number

2011

Number

Kingston
Central

11-15

3

11-15

5

Kingston
East

16-20

3

11-15

16

Kingston
West

11-15

4

11-15

4

St. Andrew
Central

11-15

9

11-15

11

St. Andrew
North

11-15

9

11-15

2

St. Andrew
South

11-15

13

11-15

13

THE END!

Cite This Document

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