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Caribbean Criminal Trial Advocacy Program - Trinidad and Tobago Public Defenders' Department

On October 25-27, 2021, the National Center for State Courts (NCSC), implementer of the Caribbean Anti-Crime Program (CAC), funded by INL, hosted a three-day virtual Criminal Trial Advocacy Program in collaboration with the National Institute for Trial Advocacy (NITA). The training was conducted for the Trinidad and Tobago Public Defenders’ Department (PDD). The Chief Public Defender, Senior Staff and 19 Public Defenders participated in the program. The initiative is part of CAC’s ongoing efforts to strengthen the trial advocacy capacity of prosecutors and attorneys throughout the region. The Caribbean criminal case backlog is linked, in part, to deficiencies in the skills of prosecutors and insufficient defense attorneys. The program is thus a direct response to the need to build capacity in key professionals that impact the efficiency and effectiveness of the justice sector. The NITA faculty, a distinguished team of trial lawyers with extensive experience teaching trial advocacy in the Caribbean and the US, conducted presentations on opening statements, examinations-in-chief, cross-examinations, impeachment, difficult witnesses, and closing arguments. The participants were then given the opportunity to apply and demonstrate the learned skills followed by individual critiques by the NITA faculty. The Trinidad & Tobago PDD was established in 2020 and is expected to play a major role in reducing criminal case backlog and pre-trial detention.

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