Politicians would rather spend money on frivolities than foundational infrastructure
by BFP reader RRRicky (with Marcus)
Our newly-appointed Chief Justice, Marston Gibson, gave an interview in the Antigua Observer where he laid out his plans to implement the new civil procedure laws that were passed in Barbados in 2008.
Good Luck to Chief Justice Gibson. He’s going to need lots of luck because luck is all he has: there is no money for the staffing and operational improvements he wants to make. We have a brand new court building (with a leaky roof) that we’ll be paying out forever (and we aren’t allowed to know who we’re paying or how much) but we don’t have court reporters, administrative assistants or legal researchers to empower the Judges and the Justice system.
How tragic: a beautiful building financed on the never-never – but no budget for sufficient people, computers and equipment to make the system work as it should. Nice building though!
Another difference is that referees do not have the same legal support structure as judges. They do not have law clerks or secretaries and, therefore, must do their own legal research when drafting opinions, Gibson said.
To that end, he said, he will be able to relate to judges in Barbados, who also do not have clerks and secretaries to help them.
“One of the big-ticket items for me is to try to give some thought to how I can get them some assistance, so that they can concentrate on judging and have some assistance with their research and their writing,” Gibson said.
Barbados Chief Justice Mastron Gibson in the Antigua Observer
Our Justice System is foundational to our society, so why don’t politicians fund it properly?
Think of the Justice System as necessary societal infrastructure: just like sewers, water, power, policing, health care, roads etc.. Barbados governments prefer to spend money on big flashy projects or small give-aways traded for votes: not on necessary infrastructure. A cricket showplace is sexy and a great photo opportunity – sewerage treatment plants are not vote-getter sexy.
Barbados governments don’t mind giving away millions for weed-eaters and lawn care equipment in a failed effort to make entrepreneurs out of block layabouts, but to provide funding to put sufficient telephones and court reporting equipment in the new court building? Never!
Seldom do our governments put adequate money into basic infrastructure like sewers, sidewalks, water distribution, policing, hospital or justice until things get so bad that they are falling apart. Consider the library. Think of the state of our health care facilities.
Chief Justice Simmons had conflicting loyalties… and the BLP usually came first
The last Chief Justice was an integral part of the politics and the political decisions that devoted spending to frills, not to the foundations of our society. Sir David Simmons left us with a shiny new building and a broken, understaffed court system where cases often drag on for over a decade and sometimes two! He and his BLP left us with a court system where accused persons spend years in jail waiting for trials that never happen. Sir David kept his silence about that because it was his own BLP comrades who were to blame.
Marston Gibson is different. I believe he will work with what he is given, but if it isn’t enough, his loyalty will be to Barbados and making our Justice System the best it can be. Chief Justice Gibson has already shown that he speaks his mind without concern for the political elites.
I like that. It gives me hope that we finally have a Chief Justice whose first loyalty is to the people, not to his old political comrades.
You watch: if the politicians don’t provide an adequate budget to allow Barbados to have the justice system it deserves, we’re going to hear about it right from the Chief Justice. There will be no whitewashing or looking the other way with this man.
I like that a lot.