Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Dale Marshall, is awaiting further dialogue with members of the Bench and Bar on the possibility of implementing Judge Alone Trials in Barbados.
He made this disclosure after the swearing in of Barbados’ fifth Chief Justice, Patterson Cheltenham, by Governor General Dame Sandra Mason at Government House today.
Mr. Marshall indicated that the matter was first raised by former Chief Justice Sir Marston Gibson, who retired before it could be properly explored.
However, the Attorney General noted that one advantage of a Judge Alone Trial was that it would eliminate the need for a jury.
“A lot of time and effort is spent by the judge reviewing the evidence, giving directions to the jury so the jury can then go away and deliberate,” he said.
Mr. Marshall pointed out that in contrast, having heard the evidence, a judge would be in a position to evaluate the evidence and give a decision, thereby eliminating the time that was spent dealing with a jury during a trial.
“There are some things more quickly grasped by a judge who is a judicial mind that jurors would take a bit of time to deal with. But the fact is that anytime that you are moving away from the venerable notion, or venerable principle, that a person in serious cases should be tried by a jury of his peers, careful consideration has to be given to it,” he outlined.
The Attorney General stated this was a matter that would require careful consideration, as a trial by jury was something that Barbados had from the time there was a judicial system.
“We would have to reflect carefully on any effort to take that right away,” he noted.