Jurists told: clean up your acts where needed
During a church service to mark the official Opening of the Legal Year yesterday, Rev. Harry Bain decried the state of the judicial system and called for an end to practices that allow the system to be abused.
During his 30-minute address at Christ Church Cathedral, Bain, dean and rector, also hit out at what he described as the country’s deteriorating value system that has led to a “crisis of lawlessness”.
“Our society is going through a dramatic and traumatic upheaval,” he said.
“There is no longer a consensus on what is right or wrong, permissible or forbidden. Our Christian values have been hijacked by secularism, materialism and individualism. Our moral compass in this nation is out of step with our Christian principles.”
Bain said, “… Bahamas, we have a problem.”
He added that the rise in violent and white-collar crimes has led a lot of people to cast blame.
Bain noted the police and members of the public have been sounding off about pending court matters and the number of suspects on bail.
“These days, to get bail seems like a death sentence,” he said.
“We’ve come to the point where the police are calling for action with respect to the granting of bail and rightly so.”
He added, “Whatever the who, what, where, when and why, in my layman’s opinion, our justice system is not functioning at its optimum,” he said.
“I hasten to say, however, that for the judicial system to do its work efficiently, and in a timely manner, all stakeholders must do their part with dispatch.”
Bain said while he is not casting blame, the judicial system must be improved.
“Brothers and sisters, there is no diplomatic way to tell you the bold and blatant truth: you function in a system that I believe needs reform and renewal,” Bain said.
“Individually and collectively, I challenge you to be active agents of transformation in your spheres of influence and with the help of God’s guidance, you will more than identify the problems, you will improve the administration of our justice system by putting in place solutions.”
Bain noted there are some challenges the courts do not have the power to address.
He challenged the executive to make the appropriate changes to further enhance the justice system.
“We need a modern, functional and appropriately equipped Supreme Court complex,” Bain added.
He said that should be a gift from the executive to the judicial system after 50 years of independence.
However, speaking to court officials, he said the current challenges of the system should not give way to complacency and an attitude of “it is what it is”.
Bain said unaddressed small problems cause failing situations and contribute to a flawed system and frustration on the part of those who serve the public.
“Those little things make a big difference in enhancing efficiency and carrying out justice,” he said.
Bain added, “It is an ineffective and broken system that allows the abuse of trial delays, unchecked outstanding warrants and hundreds of pending court matters.
“We are promoting crime if we allow criminals to escape the system or we breed criminals when the innocent is denied justice.
“Justice delayed is truly justice denied.”
Bain said The Bahamas depends on a strong legal system, and the system requires leaders and workers who do not have the attitude that they are doing the public a favor and who have given their hearts to God.
Turning his attention to lawyers, he said there is a view that too many attorneys are delaying trials by repeatedly petitioning the courts for adjournments.
He said there are also those who continue to live above their means.
“These practices do not bring credit to the community,” Bain added.
Speaking more generally, he told the congregation, “Change and improvement in the system ends with each of you.”
He said 2023 is the year to fix those things that are broken.
“Clean up your acts where needed,” he said. “One song says, ‘straighten up and fly right’.
“… From top to ground level, today is the day to rededicate your hearts to God and take hold of a sincere spirit to save a system that can be much better.”