– to now have two Magistrates
By Feona Morrison
The buildup of cases in the East Demerara Magisterial District is expected to ease with
the re-commissioning of the Sparendaam Magistrate’s Court that now has its quota of two magistrates, with Magistrate Zamilla Ally-Seepaul presiding over court one. The other Magistrate is still to be identified.
The court house was reopened yesterday afternoon during a simple ribbon-cutting ceremony and plaque unveiling.
Those in attendance were Chancellor of the Judiciary Justice Carl Singh, Chief Justice (ag.) Yonette Cummings-Edwards, Chief Magistrate Ann McLennan, Registrar of the Supreme Court, Sueanna Lovell, other members of the judiciary and court staff.
The two-storey building houses two fully air conditioned courtrooms, washroom facilities, briefing rooms for witnesses and a prisoners’ holding area, which boosts tight security features such as sturdy grillwork on its lower flat.
Reporters were allowed to tour the spanking new facility.
Each courtroom is equipped with seats for members of the media and the public. Also, there is the regular partition for the Magistrate’s podium and the prosecution and bar tables.
The two courtrooms are a bit smaller compared to those at the Georgetown Magistrates’
Courts, which was also massively refurbished a few years ago.
Justice Singh disclosed that the court will become operational from Monday.
“I think the contractors have done a good job and I would like to congratulate them. I would also like to congratulate our consulting engineers…E and A Consultants. It is a job well done; the courtrooms are fully air conditioned and the Magistrates who are going to preside here have every comfort provided to them so there should be greater production”, Justice Singh stated.
The Chancellor, however, said he was unaware of how much it cost for the works to the court.
Zamilla Ally-Seepaul has been presiding over the Sparendaam Magistrate’s Court as the lone Magistrate for quite a number of years. She has dealt with all sorts of matters ranging from murders, to robbery under-arms, simple larceny and traffic offences.
She is well known for convicting three men for robbery under-arms committed on Land Court Judge, Nicola Pierre.
Magistrate Ally-Seepaul placed each of the criminals behind bars for 16 years.
In an invited comment, Magistrate Ally-Seepaul expressed her appreciation for the new and improved court house. She said, “I am grateful for what is happening today.”
The Magistrate revealed that her biggest challenge was having to deal with the large volumes of cases coming into the court, while she alone was tasked with the disposal of matters.
She said that over the years, she noticed that there was an increase in the number of matters being sent to the court. “There was so much being demanded from one individual (magistrate) on a daily basis, that there isn’t much you can actually get done. You are just placing people on bail, adjourning matters, hoping that you will find the time in the future to start the trial.”
The Magistrate continued, “And what happens is that as matters come into the court system, where for instance persons are remanded, you (magistrate) try to give priority to their matters. And you are pushing other matters that were in the system before backwards…so that is what contributes to the backlog.”
Magistrate Ally-Seepaul said that the work load at the court will now be split and she is optimistic that the situation of backlog will improve immensely.
There are currently seven other functional courts in the East Demerara Magisterial District; Vigilance Magistrate’s Court, Cove and John Magistrate’s Court, Mahaica Magistrate’s Court, Mahaicony Magistrate’s Court. All of these courts, including the Sparendaam Magistrate’s Court, are housed in the compound of village police stations.
Due to reconstruction, for over a year, court hearings for the Sparendaam Magistrate’s Court were held at the Better Hope Community Centre, East Coast Demerara.
Many persons praised the facilities at the Better Hope Community Centre as being more spacious, breezier and soundproof, in comparison to the old building where court sessions were interrupted frequently due to noise from traversing vehicles on the Rupert Craig Highway.
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