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Justice Ellis questions paper committal process

- as several matters are being held up awaiting completed depositions
High Court Justice Madame Vicki Ann Ellis has protested the pace at which matters are being put through the High Court and questioned the use of paper committals in speeding up the process. Photo: VINO/File
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI – High Court Justice Madame Vicki Ann Ellis has protested the pace at which matters are being put through the High Court and questioned the use of paper committals in speeding up the process.

Senior Crown Counsel Valston Graham related during the High Court Sitting last week that there were several matters before the court which the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions did not and could not file indictments for because the depositions were not completed.

Graham said his Office had exhausted various measures to get receipt of the depositions.

Justice Ellis stated that she could not understand a situation where legislators amended the law with the express intention of speeding up the process, yet she was being told that depositions were not ready for trials to proceed before the High Court. “What is the point of paper committals?” Justice Ellis asked.

Justice Ellis was also upset that several persons would have had to return to the Magistrate’s Court because they did not sign their recognisance and suggested that those persons should be in custody since they were not properly on bail.

Graham said that those who did not do so must return to the Magistrate’s Court to sign their bail forms. He told the court that it was the non-signing of bail forms that had delayed the depositions.

Attorney Richard Rowe suggested it should be the duty of the Magistrate’s Court to enquire whether the forms had been correctly signed given the fact that accused persons were not familiar with the process. “It should not be the responsibility of the accused man,” Rowe stated.

Graham agreed and said the responsibility to ensure that accused persons are on bail rests squarely with the court.

However, Justice Ellis countered that accused persons with attorneys should have the situation dealt with correctly. “If there is no bail form then there is no bail and [they] should be in custody,” Justice Ellis said.

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