Murder accused gets time to decide on judge alone trial

Monday, February 4, 2019 - 12:45

A mur­der ac­cused who has been in cus­tody for 14 years will to­mor­row choose whether he wants a judge alone tri­al.

Kwasi Forde asked for some time to con­sid­er the op­tion which was ex­plained to him by his at­tor­ney Lar­ry Williams in the San Fer­nan­do High Court yes­ter­day.

The law—Sec­tion 2 of the Mis­cel­la­neous Pro­vi­sions (Tri­al by Judge Alone) Act, 2017—on­ly came in­to ef­fect on Fri­day af­ter it was pro­claimed by Pres­i­dent Paula-Mae Weekes.

Forde is be­fore Jus­tice Gillian Lucky in the Sec­ond Crim­i­nal Court charged with the mur­der of Ger­ard Bo­cas, at Cov­er Girl Restau­rant & Bar, Carib Street, San Fer­nan­do, on Oc­to­ber 10, 2005.

Ex­plain­ing the pro­ce­dure to Forde, the judge said his in­dict­ment was filed on Fri­day and he has 60 days to in­di­cate whether he wants a judge-alone tri­al.

Lucky said, “If you go judge alone tri­al it means that the 60 days pe­ri­od will be sig­nif­i­cant­ly short­ened and there­fore Mr Forde I want to en­sure if you are go­ing that way you have enough time to give con­sid­er­a­tion.

 A High Court judge does have an in­her­ent pow­er to cur­tail time or to ex­tend the time as long as there is no un­fair­ness.”

The judge not­ed that Forde has not said con­clu­sive­ly stat­ed that he wants a tri­al by judge alone.

 “It on­ly be­came the law Fri­day I want to give you enough time to talk to who­ev­er you want to talk to, speak to your at­tor­ney, get dif­fer­ent views. Sleep on it.

 I’m giv­ing you enough time to sleep on it.

 If on Wednes­day you come and say, judge, I want a tri­al by ju­ry no harm what­so­ev­er be­cause that is your right and if you say I want to go judge alone I am not go­ing to be prej­u­diced in any way be­cause it is an op­tion that you have.

 I just want to make sure that you don’t feel rushed in­to your de­ci­sion. Even if you come on Wednes­day and say I need more time to work out what I want to do, that is a third op­tion... I will just give you an­oth­er tri­al date.”

Three wit­ness­es were present in court. 

The judge said the tri­als will be mov­ing apace be­cause every­thing will be record­ed.

“Ad­vise your wit­ness­es on both sides ac­cord­ing­ly, they may think that when they come that they have to stop, that is no longer re­quired. 

They come in­to the wit­ness box they are asked their ques­tions. 

They give their an­swers. 

All of this to en­sure that we have fair tri­als, speedy tri­als and that we use the tech­nol­o­gy avail­able to en­sure that we get tri­als mov­ing faster in court­rooms,” the judge said.

The state was rep­re­sent­ed by at­tor­neys Trevor Jones and Re­bec­ca Trim-Wright.

Reporter: Sascha Wilson