The stipend that is paid to jurors is being examined with a view of increasing the amount to encourage more persons to serve.
The hint of a likely increase to the stipend came from Director of the Court Administration Division (CAD), Tricia Cameron-Anglin, during ‘A Conversation with the Judiciary’, a forum that was held in New Kingston on Friday, which featured Chief Justice Bryan Sykes and other prominent members of the judiciary.
Jurors currently receive a stipend of $2,000 per day after the amount was moved up from $500 in 2015.
The increase was done at that time through the approval of the Jury (Jurors’ Expenses in Criminal Cases) Regulations, 2015 and the Jury (Jurors’ Expenses in Civil Cases) Regulations, 2015.
There have been calls from persons who have served as jurors in the past, and stakeholders in the legal fraternity, for the Government to examine the stipend that is being paid, especially at a time when many persons continue to shy away from jury duties.
Cameron-Anglin said officials from the Justice Ministry have been reviewing the matter of the level of the stipend.
“As it relates to the stipend, we recognise that it is really low, and so, we have made representation, and I can report that the Minister of Justice and the National Council on Justice have been looking carefully and keenly at the stipend provided for jurors, and very soon we will hear in Parliament (or) in Cabinet, a decision taken on the increase in the juror stipend,” she stated.
Such a decision is imminent, according to Cameron-Anglin, “because we recognise in the increasing challenges of the fiscal space that we have, the jurors can’t afford to come to court to serve.”
She said in the past, court officials have had to assist many jurors, especially in the rural areas, in getting to court and returning home.
Meanwhile, Cameron-Anglin explained that the judiciary has expanded the pool from which it selects persons for jury duties.
“We’re cleaning the list (of jurors), the judges have also been trained and sensitised, as well as the staff in more recent time,” she said.
“We have expanded the list so we can be able to reach the jurors where they are, and get more persons coming in to serve,” she added.
The CAD director also highlighted that the division’s stakeholder partnership with the police has been enhanced, “so that in terms of service and finding the jurors, that can be buttressed to provide the respective courts with the jurors that we need to carry the matters forward.”