JUSTICE DELAYED IS JUSTICE DENIED

This Morning I bumped into one furious lawyer from the chambers of one of the magistrates. If I may just share, it transpires this particular case was set for hearing on this very day. It was a criminal case and as such involved the prosecution for the state and the  poor furious lawyer represented the accused. For the record it must be noted that the said accused is still in prison awaiting trial.  Whist still awaiting trial, the accused continues to suffer the torment that comes with being locked up like an animal whist not found guilty as yet.

Upon their arrival at the prosecutors’ office, all prepared and relieved that at last the matter would proceed; the poor counsel discovers that the prosecutor did not call his witnesses. To make matters worse, this matter was previously postponed for the same reason. Left with no option but to approach the magistrate presiding over this matter, the accused’s lawyer led way to the chambers.

Before the magistrate, the prosecutor reasoned that he expected the accused’s lawyer to call him and inform the prosecution how they would plead and only then would he call the witnesses. on the contrary, the accused’s witnesses were around and all prepared to testify. The way the prosecutor and the magistrate related showed they were indeed very close colleagues. As such the magistrate believed the prosecutor’s side of story with an amazing ease and began perusing his diary to set the matter for another day. How about even for a second considering the torment that poor boy is going through in prison? Or maybe the old man, accused’s father always at court  only to be turned down to show his face again another time on his own travelling expenses.

One wonders if the magistrate in question really understands the duty he is tasked with; of delivering justice.  If so, then why compromise his professional ethics for friendship? If not, then what criterion was used to get him to the position of a magistrate? Honestly, one can easily tell that some lawyers who appear before magistrates are far experienced and trained on the law that even the magistrates themselves. One is bound to quote practice Directive 1 of 2017 released early this year by the honorable chief Justice that unless for compelling reasons, all cases set must proceed. What is compelling in nursing a prosecutor who cannot manage his own diary? The truth remains, what sets private lawyers apart from prosecutors and government lawyers and or officials is the manner in which they are paid for what they do.

A prosecutor is sure that even if he fails to proceed with even a single case for the whole month, the pay cheque still comes as copious. Unfortunately for private lawyers, slight failure like this one might result in them losing clients for good. Do prosecutors have to be ‘buddies’ with magistrates or with judges? Something is too wrong with cases before most prosecutors, they do not proceed and if not for lame reasons like the above, they fall sick, have funerals and the like. At the end of the day, be it a magistrate or prosecutor to blame or maybe even lawyers, justice is delayed and that means our courts to date still deny us the people, the nation justice due to us.

RECOMMENDATIONS

  • There must be a way to separate sheep from goats. How about having commission scales to add to the salaries of court officials who perform their duties outstandingly well?
  • Technology has not come for social purposes only. How about inventing a system that will assist the Chief Justice office to monitor performance of her subordinates? Maybe, say when a magistrate is proceeding with a case as set, then a special device allow such magistrate to clock as an indication thereof?
  • There is this nasty philosophy of not working on Fridays. For all judges, magistrates, prosecutors and others who will always not work on Fridays, how about we revise their salaries to exclude the Friday payments? Maybe, the next practicing directive must compel that cases be set for hearing on Fridays unless there are compelling reasons. One will be amazed by the number of cases that will fit into those spare days. Ever wondered how many Fridays are in a year? On one occasion, I was before a particular judge who had to leave at 12 :00 p.m. to collect her own sister’s remains from the mortuary and yet did her very best to clear what was before her. I salute her for her dedication, from where I stand; she understands the principle of ‘delivering justice’. Those who cannot handle the pressure that comes with being a judge/ magistrate then may as well resign.
  • How about all magistrates & judges’ diaries being managed from one common place?  The problem with allowing them to set dates for hearing by themselves is that they are able to mark certain days as “must be absent” without accounting to anyone. Maybe as VALENTINE MOMENTS like today ha ha ha  ha ….HAPPY VALENTINE THE HONORABLE JURY.

LET’S ALL REMEMBER: JUSTICE DELAYED IS JUSTICE DENIED.

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