Parliament of the co-operative Republic of Guyana


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Copyright ©2014 Parliament of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana.

Recording of Court Proceedings Bill 2014 – Bill No. 1/2014

Hits: 4016 | Published Date: 10 Feb, 2014
| Speech delivered at: 69th Sitting - Tenth Parliament
| Speech Delivered by : Hon. Basil Williams, MP

Mr. B. Williams: Thank you Mr. Speaker, if it pleases you. I was perusing the Bill. We welcome the advent of technology in our courtrooms but I do not think I have seen in the legislation anything which says the transcript shall be the sole and only lawful source of the court proceedings. What happens with the lawyers notes? Sometimes we write the evidence verbatim. If there is a conflict with the lawyers note and the transcript there is nothing in the Bill that says what the solution should be. And there is also nothing in this Bill that says if there is any conflict with any note or record and the transcript that the transcript shall prevail.
That notwithstanding it is welcome but we believe to just set it up in the civil courts is somewhat misplaced. There is the Court of Appeal, the Commercial Court and the Constitutional Courts and those courts largely listen to arguments and do not necessarily everyday have trials. We believe that a pilot should have been done in the Assizes where it is very important because we still have judges in murder cases, the capital offence, writing while the witness is in the box giving evidence when that judge is also required to observe the demeanour of the witness in the box and try to ascertain the veracity of the witness, the consistency of the witness, the manner of his response to questioning etcetera.
To me, the recording system would be very apposite in criminal proceedings even more so than in civil proceedings because legal arguments are simply being given. But in the course of evidence, a particular word could be very important in a criminal matter and there might be dispute in terms of what was said and what was not said. So we believe that urgent efforts should be made. Perhaps we could divert either from the Commercial Court, I think you could divert from the Constitutional Court and put that in the Assizes so we could at least have an idea of how it would operate in a jury trial or a criminal trial or serious criminal matter in our courts.
As I said we welcome modernity in the courtrooms. The question is of the voice simulation. There is technology to mimic a voice. You would have seen it in the move with Tom Cruise; he has a series of them. Once you have a sample of somebody’s voice you could use that and simulate the voice subsequently. I suspect you might be familiar with that type of equipment on that side.
Mr. Speaker: It may have been used.
Mr. B. Williams: Yes. In voice simulation, they are ascribing all kinds of things to a certain man which the man has no clue about. It was only when I saw the movie with Tom Cruise, then I put two and two together.
The necessity for other amenities is also important. For example, a lot of money has been spent on the new or refurbished magistrate’s court. I do not know if you visited it as yet, but I was surprised not to find any facility for lawyers. There is no room for lawyers to go and meet clients. There are courts outside of the city which have those facilities. So I cannot imagine the millions that have been spent and there is no room put where lawyers could repair to, meet clients and talk with each or whatever. While waiting for cases you could go into the room and read up. It appears to me that the Hon. Member Robert Persaud does not appreciate that when you spend all that money refurbishing that building we expect to see certain things. The High Court in New Amsterdam has one. The old Leonora Court had one. I have not gone there as yet so I do not know if they put back one. Vreed-en-Hoop has one and I hope the Hon. Attorney General will see that that omission is corrected.
Mr. Speaker, the family court. We keep hearing about the family court, the family, the family court. When are we going to have this family court? Are we still going to be in a log-jam because of furniture? It is the first time I know that furniture is a problem. I do not know what kind of furniture they are looking at because millions of dollars every year is in the Budget for the furniture. When are we going to have the family court? In fact furniture was purchased and used during the Commission of Inquiry for Linden. What has happened to that furniture? As the Budget is coming up we will have to ask a lot of questions and we hope we get answers.
Now the question of amenities in courts has to be ongoing. What is the intention of the Hon. Attorney General? Are we going to use this recording equipment in Courts 1 and 2 of the Magistrate’s Court? Just what do you intend to do with the equipment? Is it going to be of widespread usage? Are we going to have it in Berbice and Essequibo? Perhaps you will address us on the scale on which you intend to have the type of equipment. But as I said to you we welcome it and we expect that it would speed up trials and at least give people the confidence that whatever they uttered in the court has been accurately recorded.
I do not wish to detain us anymore. I could regale you with other things, but I leave that for another occasion as I signal the APNU’s support for this Bill.
Thank you Mr. Speaker.  [Applause]

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Designation: Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs
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