British Virgin Islands

Monday, Nov 30, 2020

High court trials affected as judge quashes territory’s ‘defective’ jury list

High court trials affected as judge quashes territory’s ‘defective’ jury list

Citing several defects to the current register, Justice Ann-Marie Smith on Monday ordered that the High Court’s list of potential jurors from across the territory be quashed and a new list drafted. This move now affects several high-profile matters before the court.
Among the issues she outlined was that only one juror was listed from the territory’s sister and outer islands.

“Unfortunately the court finds that the Registrar has continued the practice that was used by successive registrars. [This practice] was highlighted and frowned upon by the Privy Council. The court is also of the view that failure to include persons from the sister islands and not to include persons — which falls under Section 7 [of the Jury Act] — can be viewed as a defect,” Justice Smith said.

The judge said the flaws to the list remained despite her pointing out the inconsistencies earlier this year.

“There is no explanation that has been provided to this court that an effort was made to properly remedy the error and deficiencies that were raised in July of 2019; despite the opportunity to do so,” the high court judge further argued.

Jury duty must be evenly distributed

In the meantime, the High Court Judge said: “The burden of the jury service needs to be distributed evenly and equally between all persons liable to serve.”

“The court at this stage will squash the [jury] array in the interest of justice,” she then concluded.

Concern was raised about the jury list while the matter involving murder-accused Andraes Norford of St Kitts was mentioned in court. Norford is accused of fatally shooting Melbourne Francis in Long Look, Tortola on May 9, 2013.

It is further alleged that Norford received $13,000 to commit the crime by the now-deceased Jefferson Joseph, who was also gunned down sometime later.

With the jury list now disposed of, Norford’s and other trials have been pushed to next year. A new jury list is expected to be completed by January 17.

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