An open letter to Hon Delroy Chuck, Minister of Justice

Dear Sir,
We know that political retirement is a thing of the past, but Lord knows something needs to be done at the court and bailiff offices at Sutton Street and Spanish Town. It seems that the powers that be who fought so long and hard to stop this practice never visited Sutton Street Court.
I am therefore asking you to look into the following extract from an increasing list of uncivilised issues that members of the public have with the office of Sutton Street civil court, and in some instances at the court office in Spanish Town.
Its not for lack of complaining as many many frustrated Jamaicans have filled in the papers located on top of the suggested box, gone to the office of the Public Defender and even Court Management in New Kingston.
Nothing, or rather extremely very little has been done so here we are listing some of our grouses and ill experiences, mainly at Sutton Street civil court in an open letter to you. It is our hope that it does not get to the point where numerous frustrated persons will lend up visiting your office, but evidence of most if not all points can very well be produced when necessary:

  1. the clerk of court at Sutton Street who does his own thing often undermining the Judge. Decisions are changed, information is changed and forced upon us and we wind up going for corrections of documents too often
  2. Files are going missing for extended periods as long as 3, 4 months way too often, and its burdensome for persons to be revisiting the court after an order is made, much less to hear that they must start over
  3. Can you imagine clerks are dictating the experiences of the public. One clerk wrote up a particulars of claim and refused to file it till the litigant signed. Despite protests by the gentleman that the outline was not what he told her. Upon appearing before the Judge, he was told that his cause of action was entered incorrectly.
  4. Several persons from overseas come to court on the date given to be told the date was changed or they had the wrong date, until evidence of the fact that the Clerk in the Court gave the wrong date surfaces. No compensation and definitely no action taken against such clerk, despite the added incurred expenses of especially the litigants who have to sacrifice a week or two, pay exuberant travel fees to get to court for those dates.
  5. The bailiffs’ office are an entirely different matter.
  6. Select bailiffs too often are claiming they do not find persons to serve or carry out other actions, even when they were seen with said persons
  7. Select bailiffs even swear visiting an area and driving around, when in reality the area has no opportunity for cars, and persons are therefore found by walk foot private process servers
  8. Select bailiffs are being inconsistent and exuberant with their fees especially regarding commercial properties. The fees for the same size space in the same area are different and influenced by who the client is
  9. It is insulting to be forced to pay bailiff fees to serve and worse after affidavits of service are sworn considering that the process server is available to give testimony of his own actions.Why is therefore the need to fill in an affidavit which has a separate section for nonbailiffs from section for bailiffs. Have the Parish Judges become gods that they can now determine the honesty of persons who swear service before a Justice.
  10. Worse, there is no system set up by the Bailiff office to pay after monies are collected, or probono, and yet the public is forced to use that office, when the service in itself is lacking.
  11. In some cases, fees paid to the Bailiffs are not refunded. In the last scenario, the clerks did not record the information of the payment for bailiff fees on the file nor the information about the file on payment receipt. So the receipt could not be connected to the file, so a refund could be made.
  12. Selected members of staff at both court offices at Sutton Street and Spanish Town are downright and outright disrespectful, to the general public. This especially in responding to and ignoring members of the public. Up to last week at the Spanish Town court office we collectively experienced a proper abuse. No one was available to conduct any business of the court for at least an hour. BUT NO ONE had the decency to come out and say something, not even apologise until tempers flared and after learning of how this attitude had become the norm, its anybody’s wonder why it took so long for persons to react. Of course persons were coming and going, but apparently no one noticed that members of the public were quietly seated and waiting for assistance, even numbers.
  13. Still, again in this festive season the door at Sutton Street was shut at least an hour early without so much as a posted notice. The only ease to the insult was that some persons with payment deadlines were facilitated, but alas they had to poke the monies through the grill for someone to collect and relay to the accountant. One wonders who would be blamed if  in that volatile area, and this season, someone had come and held them all up.
  14. Select staff members are often caught up in hot verbal attacks and debates most times ending up in defamation by slander of selected members of the public by said staff
  15. In fact, your staff members are giving directives to members of the public on who to give work and who not to – and numbered times warn persons against employing or contracting or even speaking to decent law abiding persons who engage themselves in a registered business rather than stooping to crime. Registered businesspersons could consider this an attack on the earning capacity and business reputation.
  16. Albeit there are a few who descend on the court compound to hustle the law as they scam persons out of huge sums of money claiming to be police and bailiff – but is it the duty of court staff to take up the mantle as they have mis-aimed their arrows causing grief on those who are going about their civilised duties

Perhaps it is a case of a lack of training in customer service and or understanding of what the responsibilities are for both Clerk of court and the court clerks. Either way severe punishment is being meted out. One wonders if anyone in these public offices even gave thought to the background of the persons who come to the lower courts.

Maybe some of them should be made to go work on a construction site for several months to be told they wont gt paid for unfounded reasons. Or, get the banker of the partner they are throwing to refrain from giving them their draw because of their own rising debt to society.

Our suggestion is political retirement of the sour grapes who spoil the vine of justice. Failing that, training by the Team Jamaica crew at Jamaica Tourist.

Please hear and answer our cry oh new Minister of Justice.

Collected voice of victims of the Civil Courts at Sutton Street and Spanish Town

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By Anthea

... qualified & experienced in journalism, creative writing, editing, the arts, art critique, paralegal, photography, teaching, research, event planning, motivational speaking, workshops for children and adults, visual arts etc. Click here for contact form. ...or email me here

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