The Resident Magistrate for a parish is ex officio the Coroner for that parish.
The Coroners Act provides that where it appears to the Coroner that there is reason to suspect that:
(a) a deceased has come to his death by murder, manslaughter or
(b) that the death occurred in circumstances which, if continued,
would be prejudicial to public health or safety,
the Coroner shall summon a jury to determine how, when and where the deceased came by his or her death, and whether anyone should be charged with murder or manslaughter. If the jury finds that someone is to be charged, the Coroner issues a warrant for the arrest of such person who is then brought before the next sitting of the Circuit Court for that parish.
However, where the Resident Magistrate is sitting as a Resident Magistrate and conducting a preliminary examination in a charge of murder or manslaughter, no jury is required at that stage, and the Resident Magistrate (sitting alone) commits straight to the Circuit Court, if satisfied that a prima facie case has been made out.
So, the question arises: why is a jury stipulated for a Coroner’s Court in these cases? Why can’t the Coroner sit alone at all times and do the same thing that he or she does when sitting as Resident Magistrate, that is, commit to the Circuit Court? After all, there is the constant complaint that inquests are not being held quickly enough due to problems with jurors.
Click here to view/read The Coroners Act
1. This piece of legislation was enacted on New Year’s Day, 1979. It establishes a body called the National Housing Trust. You can click here to view/read the NHT Act in detail.
2. The sole functions of the Trust are stated as follows:
- (a) to add to and improve the existing supply of housing; and
- (b) to enhance the usefulness of the funds of the Trust by promoting greater efficiency in the housing sector.
3. In executing its functions, the Trust is required to make loans to contributors to assist in purchasing, maintaining, repairing or improving houses.
4. In 2005, Parliament amended this Act so as to enable the Trust to provide financing up to a maximum of five billion dollars for projects for the development of education. It is to be noted that this provision has nothing to do with the housing sector. So, strictly speaking, it was outside the scope of the law. Parliament seems to have recognized this fact as it provided that this amendment was to be effective only until August 25, 2006. So, after this date, the law reverted to the position it was in prior to the passing of the amendment in 2005.
5. This is a neat way of taking money from a fund that was legally established to do one thing, and to use it lawfully for another purpose. Parliament is really supreme.
There was much furor about this in the local press in 2005. Here are some links to related articles and letters on the matter:
– May 10, 2005 – Letter to the Gleaner Editor – NHT move is wrong
– July 23, 2005 – Letter to the Gleaner Editor – Lend the money for education
– July 27, 2005 – Article – House passes amended NHT Act
– July 30, 2005 – Article – Betrayal of trust, says JLP – as Senate passes amended NHT Act