Eastern Caribbean magistrates meet to discuss judicial ethics and independence

BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, APRIL 1ST 2014 (CUOPM) – St. Kitts and Nevis’ Prime Minister the Right Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas is down to deliver the opening remarks at a Conference for Magistrates on Judicial Ethics, Judicial Independence and Coroner’s Jurisdiction.

Chief Justice Dame Janice Pereira.
Chief Justice Dame Janice Pereira.

The three-day Conference at the St. Kitts Marriott Beach Resort is being held by the Judicial Education Institute (JEI) of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (ECSC) in collaboration with the Commonwealth Secretariat from April 2nd to 4th.

During the opening ceremony, remarks will also be said by Justice the Hon. Louise Blenman, Chairperson of the Judicial Education Institute, Jarvis Matiya, Head of Justice Section, Legal and Constitutional Affairs Division, Commonwealth Secretariat and Chief Justice Dame Janice Pereira, who will set out the context of the training and expectations of participants.

The aims of the session on Judicial ethics are to promote awareness and active consideration of judicial ethics both during and after the course; familiarisation with the national code of judicial ethics and international principles; to understand how the Code and international principles are relevant to the human rights of women, children and other vulnerable members of society who come before the courts and how to apply the Code and principles in practice and facilitate discussion and debate amongst magistrates on the approach to ethical problems.

It is also aimed at giving Magistrates a better understanding of the needs and problems facing magistrates; and develop ideas for continuing education in this area.

It is hoped that by the end of the training, Magistrate’s will be able to describe the contents of the Eastern Caribbean Code of Ethics; identify appropriate and inappropriate behaviour by magistrates both on and off the bench; identify best practice by reference to both the national code and best practice internationally, including the Bangalore principles; apply the principles in the Code of Ethics in practice and understand and deal with the needs of the vulnerable in and out of court.

Magistrate’s will also discuss applications for recusal with submissions being made as if in a court situation, identify main issues arising from the recusal exercises and discuss some hypothetical situations involving vulnerable court users.

The sessions on the Coroner’s jurisdiction include the Role of the Coroner, historical background of the Coroner’s Jurisdiction, the extent of the Jurisdiction (including territorial considerations), the Role of the Police vis `a vis the Coroner (reporting of sudden, unnatural deaths; permission to remove the body), Ordering of Post Mortem, if needed, objections to Post Mortem, instructions to Forensic or other Pathologist, Toxicologist, analysis of Post Mortem Report, decision to hold Inquest, scheduling of Inquest, if needed, the Inquest and aim and purpose of the Inquest (e.g. prevention of similar fatalities; reporting of child abuse), public nature of the Inquest (e.g. dealing with the Press and publication), Procedure and Practice, Notification of Interested Parties, Summoning of witnesses (including expert witnesses), opening Statement, Evidence of Pathologist, Toxicologist and Ballistic Expert and questioning of witnesses by the Coroner.

Magistrates will also discuss legal representatives and interested parties, submission of points of law to the Coroner, documentary evidence (e.g. suicide notes, diaries, other records kept) and locus in quo, particularly with respect to vehicular accidents.

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