While Senior Magistrate Rickie Burnett agrees that the COVID-19 pandemic is very serious, and pre-cautionary measures have to be taken, he does not think that closing down the Court is the answer.
The Magistrate voiced his views on the issue during a sitting of the Kingstown Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday.
“Whether we like it or not, the Court is an essential service.
“The last thing that you want is for the criminals to know that the Court is closed down, or that the Court is on vacation,” he declared.
Burnett said there are some lawyers who feel they should stay at home because of COVID-19. He is also aware that some lawyers have closed their offices, and the Process Staff, who are responsible for serving summons, are reluctant to go into the communities, for fear of interacting with persons who may be infected with the coronavirus.
“I will like to be home like everybody else, but I have a job to do,” Burnett said.
Prosecutor Curlene Samuel pointed out that, “All we seem to be doing now is arrests.”
A number of matters have had to be adjourned.
“Could you imagine if all the Magistrates and Judges were to stay at home at the same time?” he asked rhetorically.
“If I am to have my way, I will be home, but is that the right thing to do?” he questioned, adding, “I don’t think that closing the Court and staying at home is the answer.”
He made it clear, “We are not on vacation. We have to get the job done.”
The Senior Magistrate wears protective gear to his sittings.