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