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On the Opening of the Legal Year

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Sen. Fred Mitchell
Chairman of The Progressive Liberal Party
Leader of Opposition Business – Senate
Opposition spokesman on Foreign Affairs & Shadow Attorney General

As the judiciary embarks on its new legal year, beyond the pomp, pageantry and ceremony, it is important and in the public interest that the Chief Justice turn his attention to increasing public accessibility to the courts and legal system. The technological upgrades are welcome, but our judicial system needs more fundamental reform.

The Attorney General is consumed with pleasing and complying with the requirements of the European Union, while the Chief Justice talks extensively about technological upgrades. I’d like to see significantly more attention paid to the importance of the general public viewing our court system as a reliable institution of legal recourse and redress when they are aggrieved.

I have publicly spoken out on a number of legal filings where Bahamians seeking justice could not secure leave from the courts for a hearing to bring resolution of their matters. This has to change.

Of particular concern in the administration of justice is the huge backlog of cases in juvenile court and the longstanding systemic, institutional, administrative and legislative issues that have denied so many of our young people justice. These challenges have needlessly placed too many lives on hold and created too much uncertainty and must be addressed comprehensively as a matter of urgency.