New magistrates court complex completed
Attorney General John Delaney announced yesterday that as of next month magistrates in New Providence will hear cases in the state-of-the-art magistrates’ court complex on Nassau Street.
Delaney indicated that some magistrates have already begun to move into the facility, which is already being furnished.
He said the $6.5 million complex has reached “practical completion”.
“This facility represents a tremendous improvement in the physical facilities for our magistracy,” said Delaney during a press conference at the newly built magistrates court.
The facility will house 12 magistrates’ courts.
The Coroners Court will remain at Royal Victoria Gardens and a remand court will operate at Her Majesty’s Prison at Fox Hill.
Delaney pointed out that the magistrates’ court complex will be electronically linked via live video feed to the magistrates court for remand hearings at Fox Hill.
He said the link will also extend to the magistrates court in Grand Bahama and has the ability to connect to any court with the capabilities for a live video link.
“You would recall that of the legislation that was recently enacted during October and the beginning of November — the so-called anti-crime package — part of it was amendments to the Evidence Act to accommodate live television link,” Delaney said.
“With those laws in place the electronic facilities and capabilities are now being put in place both here, as well as at the new court that is coming online at Fox Hill. That facility is also expected to be in place for the Supreme Courts.”
The attorney general said police buses transferring prisoners from Fox Hill to the magistrate’s court for remand hearings, are also expected to be dispensed with a live video link offering real time viewing.
“It is also a tremendous cost savings. If you have witnesses that need to give evidence [then] they don’t need to travel to New Providence,” he said.
“They can give evidence from a remote location, whether it be some place else in The Bahamas or some place out of the country. All of that is possible [because] we have the legal capacity… and now we are building in the electronic capacity to do so.”
While Delaney did not disclose the cost of the live video link he explained that the Office of the Attorney General spends thousands of dollars each year transporting witnesses from the Family Islands to New Providence.
The pink and white building boasts full body security scanners at its entrance, closed circuit television, a directory board that will outline scheduled cases, a magistrates library and 10 group and individual prisoner cells, which will allow approximately 50 prisoners to be held at the facility.
The accused will be separated from the public when transported throughout the complex via separate but direct access to both cell blocks and court rooms.
However, the dedicated courtroom for juvenile hearings has no prisoners dock as it is intended to be less formal.
Additionally, sound equipment will be present in each courtroom, state-of-the-art chairs have been installed and the government has also purchased adjacent lots for parking.
As it relates to the Coroner’s Court, the attorney general said, “We’re doing a number of improvements right now… in terms of the existing facility, which we expect to be finished in a matter of a couple of weeks.”