Lawyer files complaint over court house bureaucracy

| 05/05/2014

(CNS): A local defence attorney has filed an official complaint with the complaints commissioner after he says he was given the run-around by courthouse officials when he tried to get a file for a client he was representing in a criminal matter. Peter Polack said that he was astounded by the incompetence and nonsensical approach taken by court administrators who refusedto give him the documents the court held on his client. Polack has complained about court management and the attorney general, as head of the legal portfolio, for unreasonable conduct and inadequate administration.

Polack said he began his efforts to gather the necessary files for the court case, which is due for trial later this month, on 11 April when he was instructed to take the case. He called the courts and followed up with an email asking the supervisor of the criminal registry to copy the contents of the file, which he would collect later that day so he could get to work.

Almost immediately Polack encountered a bureaucratic stumbling block when he was told the court would not copy the file because he was not representing the defendant as the record indicated another lawyer had the case. However, that lawyer had officially come off the record more than three months before.

The bureaucracy was to mount over the following days as the chief magistrate, the clerk of court and the deputy of public prosecutions all became involved as Polack battled for more than two weeks to get his client’s file. Told that he could have it, Polack made repeated visits to the court only to find he could not have the file as they were still not convinced he was representing the client, despite the orders to the contrary.

Disclosure problems continue to plague defence counsel in criminal cases, who complain bitterly and frequently in the courts about the difficulty in getting evidence and supporting documentation about their clients’ cases from the police and prosecutors. But Polack’s issues were with the courts as it was the public prosecutor’s office that eventually gave the lawyer a copy of their file to assist in keeping the case on track.

Polack told CNS that it was more than unreasonable that everyone in the system had access to his client’s file except the lawyer defending him. He also indicated that the delay in securing the critical documentation was a breach of the defendant’s human right to a fair trial. Polack said this was “nothing more than a bureaucratic nonsense as a result of management’s efforts to cover up incompetence".

Frustrated by the events, Polack said he was not prepared to simply brush off the experience and was intent on highlighting the inadequate service and unreasonable conduct by making a formal complaint.

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Category: Crime

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  1. Anonymous says:

    The Complaints Commissioner – non-Caymanian, will she have the courage to take this complaint on withour fear of losing contract and not having access to her main public objective, whistleblowing legislation?

    The AG/SG and Clerk of Courts – all non-native Caymanians (Jamaica, Trinidad and Guyana represented I bleive), so will they have the allegiance and respect for proper administration to be carried out?


    The Deputy Governor – 100% Caymanian male, will he have the courage and determination to overhaul these positions and even seek assistance from teh FCO/Governor to not renew these contracts?

    Well, we'll see who really run things here!

    • Anonymous says:

      When people see people as people rather than carriers of passports, then things will get better.  Dramatically better.

      • Anonymous says:

        Some people CAN only see their passports and colours of their flags!!! Hence the problem and issue of too many foreign workers in a legal system that should be dominated first by those who are qualified and pledge allegiance first and foremost to the Union Jack/Cayman's flag. Sadly our passports are a means to a financial end and in order to have some semblance of fairness why should we support a legal system in a BOTC dominated by many who normally have such a patriotic stance to their people passports do matter to THEM!


        But if passports were not important, why do we only have about 3 native Caymanian attorneys in he Portfolio of Legal Affairs?

        Passports and flags and origin of birth of oneself or of one's parent/s mean everything tos one…….including me.

  2. Bella says:

    ABOUT TIME!!!!

  3. Anonymous says:

    Completely and utterly unacceptable. Sounds like clerks trying to influence justice. 

  4. Anonymous says:

    WHy is the courts still allowed to Judge a case prior to it going to court And deny legal aid? I see the rules that allow them was done between Governor and Then CJ many years ago, but it may be contrary to ones constitution and bill of rights (2009)? (Highest law of the land!).

    Doesn't one have the right to public forum in the court of law, where both sides can present the different sides? So, what is the use of having a court, if a jusde is going to judge it prior to going to court? SO lets just let them judge Cases- Who needs a court. Perhaps the Now Governor needs to look into this?

    If a Judge turns it down, he does not have to give a reson as required by statue (AS is in a proper case) and if it remains on that person's file(Physical or computer), then there may be bias in this Legal aid rule?


    (CONCERNED citizen!)

  5. Anonymous says:

    I'd like to hear the courts side because lawyers have a knack for befuddling the waters.

  6. Anonymous says:

    The court records should be public unless there is a specific court order makng them secret.

    • Anonymous says:

      The court decisions, whatever is presented in open court. Some things may be 'in the files' that are not and arguably should not be public. For example there might be accusations in the files that the court finds are groundless (or are even recanted before they reach court) and so are not made public to keep from smearing people's good names. For example.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Just because they have access to the file dosn't mean they can read and understand what you want