On September 30, 2022, INL's Caribbean Anti-Crime Grant, implemented by the National Center for State Courts (NCSC), convened its 26th virtual Judicial KIT. The program provided an overview of specialized courts and highlighted best practices from Jamaica’s Gun Court and Domestic Violence Courts in the United States.
Approximately 86 judges, magistrates and attorneys attended the KIT session from 8 countries: The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Suriname, and Trinidad & Tobago. Attendees included Chief Justices, Judges, Masters, Magistrates, Attorneys, and Court Administrators. Key speakers were The Honorable Mme. Carol Lawrence-Beswick of the Supreme Court of Jamaica and NCSC Principal Court Management Consultant, Alicia Davis.
Problem solving or specialized courts differ from traditional courts by focusing on one type of offense or type of person committing the crime. These courts provide support and resources to specific types of cases to increase efficiency, improve decision making processes and reduce backlog.
Key areas emphasized in the program include procedural justice barriers, such as poor litigant experience, technology barriers and language access barriers, as well as best practices such as a robust case management, focused trial conduct, and the data collection. In the KIT survey, participants indicated that specialized courts would be more effective than traditional courts for specific types of cases in their jurisdiction. However, a lack of community resources and court-annexed programs is the most common challenge in establishing these courts.
Overall, the speakers highlighted specific measures to enhance litigant experience, such as a user-centered design of webpages, court-wide and cross-court collaboration, and access to language interpretation for court users. Presentations also outlined the importance of staff preparation, a collective vision to deliver justice, and a positive workplace atmosphere to promote successful case management.
NCSC Principal Court Management Consultant, Alicia Davis, presenting on procedural justice barriers in domestic violence cases.
The Hon. Mme. Carol Lawrence-Beswick presenting on Best Practices from Jamaica’s Gun Court.