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Supreme Court to resume certain operations remotely

After scaling back operations in late March while remaining operational for urgent matters, the Supreme Court will resume some operations using remote platforms.

In a press release, Chief Justice Brian Moree, QC, announced that arraignments, case management hearings, and bail hearings and part-heard civil trials will proceed remotely.

The arraignments that were initially scheduled for March 27 will take place before Justice Bernard Turner today at 11 a.m. Supreme Court arraignments on Grand Bahama will take place on May 25.

The arraignments will proceed remotely and in-person, depending if the accused is on remand or on bail.

Bail hearings previously set for March will resume remotely.

However, bail hearings for other defendants remain on hold until the lockdown at the Bahamas Department of Correctional Services is lifted.

Case management hearings and pre-trial reviews resume on May 25.

New criminal and civil trials remain on hold.

However, part-heard trials will continue.

Criminal trials that began before the state of emergency will be scheduled by the judge and will be held in court.

Part-heard civil trials will be fixed remotely and will proceed in a manner directed by the judge.

In the magistrates’ courts, new trials remain suspended but arraignments continue.

The courts continue to accept payments of traffic fines and child support payments.

Speaking to The Nassau Guardian yesterday, Moree said, “The entire COVID-19 experience has reinforced the vital need to establish a modern technology platform throughout the courts, which would then allow us to do what courts around the world are doing, and that is increasing remote hearings so we can continue to hear cases without compounding the problem of the backlog of cases that we have.

“Right now, we have very limited technology throughout the courts and so it has been particularly challenging to manage the volume of cases during this time when you want to minimize in-person physical hearings, where you have significant numbers of people physically present in court. We don’t want that.”

The chief justice added, “Even with our limited technology that we currently have in the courts, we are going to be widely using video conferencing facilities through things like ZOOM and Webex to conduct court hearings.

“Persons who have cases, whether it is in the Magistrates or the Supreme Court, and they want to know what’s happening, they should go to these protocols and these protocols will tell them what is happening to their cases, whether they have been adjourned or not so the public can stay informed.

“Subject to physical distancing requirements and the public health issues we are going to expand our court services by opening the registries, all of the registries, and by resuming court hearings mostly by remote platforms.”

The full measures can be accessed on the judiciary’s website at www.bahamasjudicary.com.

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