Senator the Hon. A.J. Nicholson Minister of Foreign Affairs & Trade Hon.Oswald Burchenson Senior Resident Magistrate
Senior Supt. Marlon Nesbeth Area 3 Police, Manchester Mr. Hugh Perry National President, Lay Magistrates Assoc. Mr. Trevor Heaven President, Manchester Chapter Lay Magistrates Assoc.
Rev. Joan Smith Chaplin
Past Presidents of the Lay Magistrates Association
Zone Co-ordinators Justices of the Peace
It gives me great pleasure to bring greetings this afternoon on the occasion of the half yearly meeting of the Manchester Chapter of the Lay Magistrates Association.
I would like to extend a special welcome to Senator the Hon. A.J. Nicholson, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade and to say how happy we are to have you with us in Mandeville today.
Special welcome also goes to Mr. Hugh Perry, National President of the Lay Magistrates Association. It is my particular pleasure to welcome you to our Parish. I know that you have travelled far and we are very happy to have you. (Incidentally Hugh Perry and I go back a long time, when I used to spend so much time in Portland when I was in the Film Industry.)
Ladies and Gentlemen, I am sure that you will agree that it has been a difficult year for the Parish as the economy struggles and the lack of the kind of investment that can produce a significant number of jobs has eluded us.
The promise by U.C. Rusal that Wyndalco and Alpart would be retrofitted to begin production in 2016 does not appear to be happening so the hope of a revival of the Bauxite and Alumina industry continues to diminish.
Crime has also put the Parish under pressure and even though fewer murders were committed in 2013 than 2012, robberies, rape and child abuse continue to torment our people. Indeed, we have even had one case of kidnapping.
These negatives stymy the climate needed for investment and threatens the very stability of the Parish. This is not good for business and certainly not good for the general well being of us all.
The Police ably led by Senior Supt. Marlon Nesbeth works tirelessly to keep us safe and I would like to commend him for all his hard work in combatting crime in the Parish. He has quickly built a reputation as a man who is very approachable, highly organized and genuinely interested in the well being of us all, but the truth is, he needs our assistance in preventing domestic violence and in knowing and reporting what is going on in our communities.
I say this, because as Justices of the Peace, we need to play our part in helping to keep the peace by assisting to resolve conflicts that threaten to erupt into violent endings.
One program that has stood the test of time and which the Police very much believe in is the Neighbourhood Watch. These Watches not only teach the community good safety practices, but they give you, the J.P. the opportunity of meeting new people and hearing about problems that could result in danger. I am asking Justices to really get involved and to provide the leadership required to make this happen. Let us concentrate on that as our prime project for the year 2014. We need Neighbourhood Watches in every single community in our Parish!
You have probably heard that we have some problems in our midst. One J.P. is on a charge of solicitation to commit murder. Some I am told, are charging for services; others still, are writing and stamping letters swearing that they have known specific persons for a period of time in connection with bail when in fact they do not know them at all!
These irregularities are serious offences and I need now, to warn Justices, that I will be acting most severely if I find anyone guilty of such an offense. Justices are trained in the rules and regulations of the privilege of being a Justice of the Peace and if anyone cannot adhere to these rules, they will not be tolerated in the system.
I know that you will be happy to hear and would want to welcome the 25 new Justices of the Peace who were commissioned in December. The J.P.’s were carefully selected from a wide cross section of the Parish. This makes a total of 65 Justices trained since I became Custos two years ago.
Also in December, a specialized training course for Court Procedures for J.P’s from the Parishes of Clarendon, Manchester and St. Elizabeth was held. 10 Justices were trained from each Parish, making a total of 30. I also entered the training, as I believe that training like this, which includes theory and practicum is helpful in my understanding of what is needed in the Court system and I am happy to have been involved. We will be continuing these courses this year.
One J.P. from Manchester, Miss Sara Allen attended specialized training for the Drug Court and specialized training is taking place now, for Justices who are on the Spirit Licensing Panel.
There is a great deal of work that I am personally involved in which I think is of great importance to the Parish.
I am on the Safety and Security Committee which Her Worship the Mayor chairs, I am on the Dispute Resolution and Violence Prevention Association, chaired by Pastor Michael Harvey from NCU, I am assisting St. John Bosco in their re-organization and I am happy to say that the fund raising efforts for the Curphey Home last year resulted in more than we have ever raised, over $500,000!
But where I will be spending most of my time this year is in the renovation and upgrading of the Mandeville Court House and in implementing areas better suited for Petty Sessions of Court in Mandeville and Christiana.
Two areas have been identified for the Petty Sessions of Court and both have been shown to the Permanent Secretary and her team from the Ministry of Justice.
In Mandeville we are considering the Cecil Charlton Hall, however, that location does present problems. In Christiana I can definitely confirm that the offices above the Post Office will be taken over by the Ministry of Justice and used for Petty Sessions of Court and I want to thank Justice Ivan Green for his input in assisting us in getting that location. The area will be configured into a Court Room, office and bathroom for the Judge, offices and bathrooms for staff and an area for the public to sit in comfort. New bathrooms will be installed for males and females. So very soon, our Christiana J.P.’s will have the use of a new, efficient area to work.
MANDEVILLE COURT HOUSE:
With respect to the Mandeville Court House, the vision is to restore the Court House to it’s former glory and to modernize those areas of the Court House needed for the smooth and efficient running of the court.
Already estimates have been completed for the structural needs of the building. The electrical audit has also been done. The estimate for the collection and stowage of thousands of old files, some that date back to the 1930’s has been done and we will shortly have estimates in for new computers, new furniture, new P.A. system, new everything that is needed to satisfy and improve the efficiency of our Justice system.
What I really want is for all the staff, the Judges, the lawyers, the J.P’s, the Jurors etc. to be able to work in cool, comfortable conditions so that this important aspect of our Justice system works efficiently.
Thanks to Top Loaf Bakery, Jurors were fed during the time that Circuit Court was held. I had been told that jurors were not turning up for duty as their stipend for lunch had not been arriving on time and many could not afford to pay for lunch. I am happy to say that Top Loaf will be extending this curtsey again to the new set of Jurors later this month.
Hopefully, by the end of this year, we will have a beautiful Court House, that works efficiently and that will compliment the terrific work done by Mayor Ramsay in the Cecil Charlton Park.
I want to thank Mr. Tony Freckleton Chairman of the South Coast Resort Board in pledging assistance from the TEF Fund and for all his assistance in speaking to the CHASE fund and for his enthusiasm and assistance.
I have also written the Clerk of the Courts regarding parking for Justices of the Peace at the Mandeville Court House. Three spaces are reserved there for J.P’s so please let the gateman know who you are so he can direct you to your space.
Ladies and Gentlemen, we have had a tough year. A lot of people are hurting from the loss of loved ones, from sickness and from economic woes. A lot of people are living in fear of what lays ahead.
I am appealing to everyone to concentrate on those who need our help and to put aside feelings that create suspicion and anger. There is so much that needs to be done and it is so easy to get distracted by petty things that really should not be given the time of day. Let us learn to trust each other and to concentrate on those large and important things that can transform the lives of our people.
We are a select body of people who have been given special privileges and responsibilities and we must keep our eye on the ball in doing those things that will give us positive results!
The people of Manchester are looking for leadership and we, we the Justices of the Peace need to rise to the occasion and play our part!
We need to set the example of excellence!
We need to show the Parish that we, the Justices of the Peace are a strong, dedicated and diligent group and that we CAN set the pace, we CAN do it right. Indeed, we are the ones who are proud to serve!
It is critical for us to stay together, to be in close communication and to move together where necessary to protect and to ward off potential dangers.
And if you need my help in this regard, call me, I am always available!
It is important therefore, that you attend Zone Meetings, that you are up to date with what is happening, that you let us know if you change address, telephone number or email address, that you make your suggestions and give your views for you are integral to the success of this great organization of Justices of the Peace!
We, as Justices of the Peace cannot afford the luxury of standing back. Ours is the job to go forward, to get involved and to see the matter through to a satisfactory conclusion.
We must ensure that our women and children are protected and guarded against a new kind of savagery that is prowling our communities!
In ending, I would like to thank the Lay Magistrates Association for the part that you play in the system. Thanks to all the Justices of the Peace. I know how dedicated you are in your quest for excellence and I commend you for all your efforts, for you do not ask for reward or recognition, you just get on with the job. You are a rare breed of volunteers in this world of selfish commercialism.
I have been touched by all that you do and I believe that the Parish of Manchester is a better place because of you.
To quote His Excellency, Sir Patrick Allen, Governor General of Jamaica, “there is nothing that is so WRONG with Jamaica, that what is so RIGHT with Jamaica cannot solve.”
With these words, may I wish you every success for this New Year.
May God bless you and keep you in good health, in happiness and in much prosperity.