Swearing in of Magistracy Registrars and Clerks of the Court
On June 11, 2019, ten of the first seventeen Magistracy Registrars and Clerks of the Court were sworn in to Office by the Honourable the Chief Justice Mr Justice Ivor Archie. The new Judicial officers will serve in the District Criminal and Traffic Courts as established by the Criminal Division and District Criminal and Traffic Courts Act, 2018 (“the Act”). The swearing in of Magistracy Registrars and Clerks of the Court represents a significant and historic milestone in the much-needed reform of the Magistracy since, for the first time, it brings to each Magistrates’ Court an Attorney-at-law with responsibility for the legal work and guidance of the Court Office.
There are to be 17 Magistracy Registrars and Clerks of the Court, who are judicial officers charged with the following responsibilities as per section 17 of the Act:
(a) supervise employees of a District Criminal and Traffic Court who are engaged in legal, quasi-judicial and other related duties and ensure compliance with the law;
(b) be the Keeper of the Record of a District Criminal and Traffic Court;
(c) be the custodian of anything detained by a District Court Judge in accordance with any written law;
(d) perfect orders of a District Criminal and Traffic Court;
(e) certify extracts of the proceedings of a District Criminal and Traffic Court;
(f) certify appeals proceedings of a District Criminal and Traffic Court for transmission to the Court of Appeal;
(g) fix and grant bail;
(h) take and witness oaths;
(i) draft or direct the drafting of complaints;
(j) carry out any other function or duty required by an order of a District Criminal and Traffic Court, Practice Directions, Rules of Court or any other written law; and
(k) perform any other functions or duties pertaining to the operation of a District Criminal and Traffic Court as may be required for the operations of that Court.
In addition, The Administration of Justice (Indictable Proceedings) (Amendment Act) 2019 gives additional responsibilities to the Magistracy Registrars and Clerks of the Court.
In welcoming the 10 Magistracy Registrars to the Judiciary, the Honourable the Chief Justice pointed to the significance of their new positions which was described as one of the new frontiers in the evolution of the Judiciary and of the justice system in Trinidad and Tobago. As pioneers in the reform initiative, which is part of a wider plan to improve the efficiency of District Courts and by extension the Judiciary, the Magistracy Registrars and Clerks of the Court were reminded that their offices call for dedication to public service. It was also pointed out that this office also calls for a strong sense of integrity and judicial ethics, and deep concern about justice and the rule of law; about the well-being of the Judiciary as an organisation and, above all, the people of the nation who are served by the Courts.
It is to be noted that the position of Magistracy Registrar and Clerk of the Court has been listed as a judicial officer in the Salaries Review Commission’s 98th report since 2003, however the post was not filled until the passage of the Criminal Division and District Criminal and Traffic Court Act #12 of 2018, which was proclaimed on December 1, 2018.
On May 10, 2019, three (3) Magistracy Registrars and Clerk of the Court took their oaths of office before the Honourable Chief Justice, which brings the total sworn in to date to thirteen (13). The remaining four are expected to be sworn in by July 1, 2019.