The Traffic Court judges: Who are they?Wednesday, August 04, 2021
A judge/jury, as I understand it, should listen to the evidence and upon the preponderance of the evidence come to a verdict by finding a person guilty or not guilty. My recent experience in the Kingston Traffic Court tells me that it is not so.
I believe if we have recordings in our court proceedings justice will be seen to be done. With no recordings nameless judges show prejudice and behave like demigods to witnesses giving testimony.
Recently, I got cited for a traffic violation — speeding — and contested the matter.
The trial was put off and the Court ordered a subpoena for the constable who wrote the ticket. I also asked for the radar operator to be subpoenaed. A nameless judge, who could never enter a classroom in Jamaica because of her hairstyle, responded in an authoritarian tone: “Sir, the prosecution will prosecute its case.”
I must hasten to point out that all the people in Court who were cited for speeding had no problem with the person who wrote the ticket, the problem was with the radar operator.
On the second date for trial, the subpoenaed ticket-writing constable did not show up. The trial was, therefore, set for a later date and, again, a subpoena issued for his appearance.
I asked the nameless judge — a different one this time — for the radar operator to be subpoenaed. And I hinted at my reason for the request. This judge mockingly said to me: “The officer was trying to set you up when he come to court.” He repeated the words “officer was trying to set you up” with the same mocking tone, attaching various reasons, five times. He then said that the “police check their radar every day they go out”.
There was no evidence from any source that the police checked their radar every day. My contention was whether this police radar operator checked his radar on that day?
I repeated that I wanted the radar operator to come to court. The judge told me: “Well, if you want the radar operator to come to court you must subpoena him yourself to testify on your behalf or seek the services of an attorney.” Why are the judges reluctant to have the radar operator show up in court to testify? I felt as if I could not win.
After the back and forth and some attempts at intimidation, such as the threat of being cited for contempt, I changed my plea: “Your honour, I reluctantly change my plea to guilty.” I paid the $2,000 fine. It was not about the money. Tolls charges back and forth cost much more.
However, I rue the day I failed to continue the fight for a principled position.
If we had recording of court proceedings, judges would tailor their utterances. Court recordings would also ensure better dispensing of justice because we would have recorded evidence .
I went to the court management system (CMS) website to see if I could file a complaint against this nameless judge and could not do so. As I see it, the CMS is a failed agency. “Justice must not only be done but must be seen to be done.” There should be a system in place for people to make complaints against judges. The CMS is more concerned with what one wears to court, not the dispensing of justice.
However, what I really want to know is: Why aren't the presiding judges at the Kingston Traffic Court identified by name?
Authnel S Reid
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