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Court open to all

RACHELLE AGARD, [email protected]

Court open to all

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The court is public and anyone can enter the court, a magistrate pointed out two days in a row as reports surfaced that security guards had blocked some people from entering the Bridgetown compound.

Magistrate Douglas Frederick gave the reminder yesterday and Wednesday, while revealing that an observer he had once sent to the complex was also turned away. 

The judicial officer first made the point when he addressed a group of legal clerks who were observing the proceedings in the District “A” Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday, but yesterday he restated the position when a surety pointed out that her husband was told by security he could not enter the compound.


‘Anyone can come’


“The court is still a public place; that is why they have benches. It is a public place where anyone can come, as long as they are appropriately dressed,” he explained to the group.

Recalling the number of “courtyard lawyers” who gathered in the precincts when the old Supreme Court at Coleridge Street was in use, he said they often furnished young lawyers with vital legal advice before they set foot in the courtrooms. The practice of regular citizens attending court to listen in on some of the more sensational cases or those of national interest has disappeared, he noted.

Magistrate Frederick pointed out that on one occasion he had sent someone to observe court proceedings, and the person was turned away by the security.

“The person came back and said the security guard asked how I could say it is a public court. I didn’t bother to get into the debate. The court has to be transparent, and the public has a right to know what is going on in their courts,” he added.

While the magistrate said he understood the need for security, he spoke of the new trend where someone was unable to enter the courts unless he had a matter going on.

“Security is necessary, but this is still a public place, and the public can come and listen . . . . The court is not only a place for law students; it is open to the public,” he said. (RA)