Juror shortage

MONTEGO BAY, St James – A shortage of jurors willing to serve is once again of concern as the Michaelmas session of the St James Circuit Court gets underway. The bulk of the cases are related to what is popularly referred to as lottery scamming, followed by sexual offences and murder.

In her opening address on Monday, Supreme Court Judge Judith Pusey expressed disappointment that, despite efforts to secure a large number of jurors, many of those served had not shown up for court.

Only 21 of the 500 people summoned to jury duty have agreed to serve.

“I know that there are some peculiarities in this region of the country where a lot of persons work in the entertainment and tourism industry and so their hours of work and their engagement with their employers require that if they do not work, sometimes they do not get paid. So, they might want to shy away,” Justice Pusey noted.

She stressed that without the participation of jurors the justice system would grind to a halt. She thanked those who had shown up and urged them to encourage others who they knew had been served to come out as well.

Justice Pusey also expressed her gratitude to the police officers who, according to her, have consistently been helpful in the administration of justice in St James.

During Monday’s opening it was revealed that the number of cases scheduled to be tried during the session, which ends on October 13, stands at 253.

Prosecutor Christine Johnson Spence noted that of this number, 193 are traversing matters while 60 are new committals.

She pointed out that 118 are related to possession of identity information matters, 60 for sexual offences, 55 for murder, while the rest consist of various other offences.

Attorney-at-law and president of the Cornwall Bar Association Michael Hemmings gave an assurance that he and his peers will play their part in efficiently moving the cases through the system.