Deputy Governor, Mr. David Archer, Jr. met last week with Registrar of the Supreme Court, Mrs. Erica Smith- Penn to discuss the way forward in returning the Jury Bill to the House of Assembly.
The Deputy Governor and Registrar both agreed that the first steps should be the establishment of a stakeholder group who will be tasked with providing comments on areas of interest or concern they wish to see captured in the 2019 Bill that are not included in the 1914 Act; the composition of the Jury List; Exemption of category of persons; Provisions for jury service; Maximum age of Jurors; and the electronic processing of the Jury List.
Deputy Governor Archer said, “Jury reform is an important exercise that must be undertaken in the Territory. The Jury Act is an important piece of legislation that governs the judicial process and we must ensure that it is relevant, modern and reflective of the Virgin Islands that we envision.”
The stakeholders include the Chief Justice, Attorney General, Acting Director of Public Prosecution, Commissioner of Police, Senior Magistrate, Registrar of the Supreme Court, Chief Immigration Officer, All Judges from the General Bench and Bar, and the BVI Bar Association’s Legal Practitioners.
To date, Territorial consultation and review of the existing 1914 Jury Act was completed by the Law Reform Commission in 2007. Jury management software was purchased for implementation.
The Jury Bill, 2009 was drafted and had its first reading in the House of Assembly on July 24, 2009. The jury selection process was also improved to coincide with activation of the jury management software.