Justice must be free from undue delay and influence
Letter By Shakoor Maharaj
Chief Justice (ag), Yonette Cummings-Edwards and outgoing Chancellor of the Judiciary (ag), Justice Carl Singh, proudly cut the ribbon to formally re-open the Sparendaam Magistrates Court (see below) which had been closed for almost a year to facilitate the construction of a new building, citing that two Magistrates will now preside to deal with the backlogs. What about other judicial and magisterial districts? Are the residents of Lethem and Bartica, for example, not entitled to speedy justice also? What about public disclosures, tenders and advertisements concerning the costs and allocation of this public works contract? We deserve public accountability.
Unfortunately, photo-ups like these will not alleviate the culture of procrastination, corruption and downright laziness that has plagued our judicial system-one that will only get worse unless changes are made from the Offices of the Chief Justice and Chancellor, to the quality of Judges and Magistrates appointed to serve the deprived but deserving people of Guyana.
It is little secret that most Judges and Magistrates, from top to bottom, from Georgetown to Linden to Lethem and all across the country, only work part time. They do not return for work after lunch, and those who remain in their Chambers, have prolonged siestas, take social breaks, indulge their favorite thirsts and recreation, or run their private businesses. Most have allowed their decisions to accumulate and procrastinate for years. Some have left the positions without giving a written decision on completed cases, further backlogging the system unnecessarily with de novo (new) trials.
Poor work ethics aside, the culture of corruption and favoritism are endemic. Ask any practitioner, and he or she will tell you any particular Judge’s favorite lawyers, mentors or friends who they will be barefacedly and unmitigatingly be biased toward. Long gone are the days when a courtroom in Guyana reflected humanity, clarity and justice. It is now a half blind-and deaf, woman manipulating the scales of justice, mostly out of her depth. The scourge of corruption, arrogance and nepotism have permeated all levels of the Judiciary and supportive administrative offices, and we must clean house fast.
We are no longer colonial plantations, but a Republic. More importantly, justice delayed is justice denied, even if the new, spanking courtrooms are paved in gold.