Judges concerned about delays in sentencing

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Court of Appeal judges have raised serious concerns about the “unacceptable” delay it takes for criminals to be sentenced after they have been convicted in Bermuda.

The panel of appeal judges highlighted several Supreme Court cases they had dealt with where defendants had to wait several months after they either admitted offences or were found guilty by a jury before their cases were concluded.

Court of Appeal president Sir Scott Baker said during last Friday’s session of the court that he would raise the problem with Chief Justice Ian Kawaley in a bid to find a solution.

Mr Justice Baker raised the problem as he read the appeal judgment that overturned Denise Morris’s conviction for money laundering. The judge pointed out that Ms Morris had waited five months to be sentenced after her conviction.

Mr Justice Baker said: “I’m unaware of the reason for the delay. There is no reason why it should occur. It is not the only case where there has been a considerable delay between conviction and sentence.”

The president of the Court of Appeal also highlighted a three-month delay between a guilty plea and sentence in an unrelated drugs case that was appealed.

He said: “That is a most unsatisfactory timescale. The delay is unacceptable.

“This is the third case this week where there have been delays between conviction and sentence.

“It’s a problem that must be addressed.”

Defence lawyer Elizabeth Christopher also raised concerns during the Friday session about the length of time it was taking to prepare psychological and psychiatric reports.

She told the court she had a client who had been waiting since January for a psychiatric report for sentencing.

Mr Justice Baker said: “This is happening in case after case, and it would not happen in another jurisdiction.

“It ought to be capable of being remedied.”

He added: “I am quite ready to press this matter with the Chief Justice. There is an endemic problem between conviction and sentence in many cases and that needs to be resolved.”

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Published Nov 23, 2017 at 8:00 am (Updated Nov 23, 2017 at 12:36 am)

Judges concerned about delays in sentencing

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