The judiciary is an arm of government responsible for administering justice. This system of courts seeks to resolve conflict arising out of the operation of laws; this involves the application of remedies and the retribution of offenders.
Trinidad and Tobago operates by a traditional common law legal system based on that of the United Kingdom. The concept of precedent applies and the judgements of the Supreme Court and Judicial Committee of the Privy Council are requisite; those of the United Kindgom and Commonwealth are highly persuasive.
The structure of the legal system in Trinidad and Tobago is as follows; Magistrate Court, High Court, Court of Appeal, House of Lords/ Privy Council.
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Upon entry, no significant search for prohibited objects was carried out. I was shown the different court rooms; it appeared that there was a pattern in the assignment of cases to the different court rooms. I visited two (2) 4th Court and one 6th Court rooms on the 1st floor. Magistrate Quamina heard matters related to assault, obscene language, and missile throwing. The case heard by Magistrate Mohammed was related to the unlawful possession of arms. Matters of drug possession and robbery were heard in court 4a by Senior Magistrate Gail Gonzales. Evidence was placed in boxes with a clear covering; detailed descriptions of the items were given for the record of the court. The complainant in all of the witnessed cases was law enforcement officers. The defendants were either called upon by the marshal, or were present in a sectioned off area, reserved for those in custody. I witnessed two defendants represented by an attorney, while others opted to represent themselves. Magistrate Gail Gonzales became deeply perturbed when addressed by the defendant as ‘love’; Magistrates are to be addressed as ‘your worship’. Next to each magistrate sat a clerk who was responsible for recording the facts of each case. Each case was heard swiftly, with a decision being taken for adjournment or penalty within minutes.
The atmosphere in the High Court was formal and orderly. Attorneys are to adorn themselves with bands and address the Judge as “my Lord”.
In the case of the December 2006 murder of business woman Vindra Naipaul-...