Former Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and United Kingdom (UK) national, Kim Hollis QC has revealed that the current jury selection process in the Virgin Islands has a fundamental flaw that excludes a large category of residents from becoming jurors in the BVI's court system.
This was revealed in the report on the deliberations of the Standing Finance Committee (SFC) held between November 20 and 29, 2019 at the Office of the House of Assembly in Road Town, Tortola.
Wrong selection list - Former DPP
Prior to that, Ms Hollis had abruptly tendered her resignation in October 2019 and in thanking her for her service to the Territory, Hon Julian Fraser RA (R3) inquired about what was wrong with the jury selection process.
The former DPP responded that at present, "the Jury Act advocates that anyone who has been resident of the BVI i.e. an Alien for over 10 years is eligible to serve as a Juror. Additionally, persons between the ages of 21 – 60 are eligible to sit as Jurors on Jury Trials in the BVI," she said.
Ms Hollis continued, "Unfortunately, it came to their attention that the list is being drawn from the voter’s list which is a totally different criteria. Until there was a change in the Legislation, they would still be left with the original Jury Act," she said.
Rectify the process - Hon Fraser
It is unclear what this new revelation could mean for the current justice system and past cases; however, Hon Fraser recommended that the office would have to find other means of selecting jurors.
According to the former DPP, her office was already in the process of doing that; however, no timeline was provided.
Ms Hollis was appointed DPP effective August 29, 2016, by former Governor Mr John S. Duncan, OBE.