A Magistrate’s duty to keep a written record of the reasons for judgment: yet another appeal against conviction

In Whitehurst v Miller [2017] SC Bda 31 App, Chief Justice Kawaley has once again allowed an appeal against conviction in the Magistrate’s Court, on account of a Magistrate’s apparent failure to make or keep a written record of his reasons for his judgment, in breach of section 83 of the Criminal Jurisdiction and Procedure Act 2015.

The Chief Justice obviously felt that the prosecution case was strong enough to warrant a re-trial, but he stressed, once again, the fundamental importance of an adequate record being kept of a Magistrate’s reasons for judgment.

In fairness to the Magistrates of Bermuda, it is important to recognise that they have to deal with an enormous number of cases, both civil and criminal, with significant constraints on their resources and budgets. It is perhaps no surprise that, in a summary jurisdiction, one sometimes encounters summary justice.

 

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