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Grenada welcomes new resident judges

Madam Justice Anges Actie – one of the two new female judges

Grenada welcomed two (2) new female resident judges to preside over the September Assizes, which opened last Wednesday with 162 matters on the Cause List.

The new judges will have to await the completion of the new court facilities inside the Clico building on Young Street in St. George’s to start adjudicating on court matters of a criminal and civil nature.

A Special Ceremony was held in St. George’s last Tuesday to welcome St. Lucian-born judges, Madam Justice Victoria Charles-Clarke, who last served as resident judge in Dominica and Madam Justice Anges Actie, who last served as a Master for the northern Windward Islands prior to her appointment as resident judge in Grenada.

Justice Charles Clarke will now serve as a criminal judge, while Justice Anges Actie will preside over the civil jurisdiction.

Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Christopher Nelson QC, who welcomed the appointment of the two new judges, said in spite of the unavailability of court room facilities, this is the first time four resident judges have been appointed to serve Grenada outside of the Jurist project.

Madam Justice Victoria Charles-Clarke will be sitting in the local courts for the first time as a judge

“This is a historic moment for us, for the first time in Grenada’s history we have four (4) full time resident judges, two (2) will be assigned to the criminal court and two (2) to the civil court”, he told THE NEW TODAY in an interview.

“We are happy with that because as you know we have been operating for some time with just one criminal judge (and) yes there was the challenge with the lack of court rooms but with that being addressed and the four judges now resident in Grenada we believe that a serious dent (will be made) in the backlog of cases both at the civil and at the criminal level,” he said.

DPP Nelson is also optimistic that “having two (criminal) judges working full time, we will be able to reduce the backlog of cases” that currently exist.

“So, both accused personas as well as complainants, the victims of crimes can expect their matters being dealt with sooner rather than later,” he added.

While, the new judges await their courtrooms, Justice Paula Gilford, who was functioning as the only criminal judge on the island for some time now, continues to sit at the old No. 1 High Court on St. John’s Street, while Civil Judge Justice Raulston Glasgow continues with the arrangements that exist for him to sit in a section of the Parliament building.

DPP Nelson noted: “…It’s really the two (2) new judges who are out of a court but that would soon be taken care of and I guess in the meantime they have the opportunity to prepare themselves for the task, fully acquaint themselves with the jurisdiction of Grenada with the specific rules and laws that are peculiar to Grenada (and) I am sure that they would be busy at work coming up to speed with the legal environment and indeed the physical environment in Grenada, while they await the completion of their courts”.

Newly appointed Attorney General, Guyanese Darshan Ramdhani, who addressed the Special Court sitting to welcome the new judges to the island, indicated that there were some minor adjustments to be made at the new court location inside the Clico building that were pointed out by court officials and that the new facilities are expected to be ready by the end of September.

Longstanding criminal defense attorney, Barrister-at-Law Anselm Clouden who spoke with THE NEW TODAY on Tuesday, expressed gratitude to the “Chief Justice for responding positively to our needs by having two (2) additional judges”.

“It is long overdue,” he said, while making a recommendation that “we have a permanent Master here for two (2) years to assist in getting rid of this accumulated backlog that is taking place now because we have not had court nor have we had sufficient judges, so, that gave rise to a civil backlog that has become unmanageable”.

“So … my personal gratitude goes out to the Chief Justice for responding positively in our hour of greatest need,” he remarked.

Clouden also used the opportunity to congratulate Legal Affairs Minister, Kindra Maturine-Stewart for “taking the bull by the horn to at least prepare the Clico building to accommodate two or three more court rooms”.
I think she ought to be commended for that,” he quipped.

Additionally, President of the Grenada Bar Association (GBA) Attorney-at-Law Lisa Taylor confirmed with THE NEW TODAY on Wednesday that communication was received from the Ministry of Legal Affairs that “the courts are expected to be ready by September 30”.

“So, the judges are here but at least two (2) of them will not have any area to work in. So, we are looking ahead now to that date and we are hoping that there would be no further extensions,” Attorney Taylor commented when contacted on Wednesday.

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