The case management system used by the Supreme Court to assign judges to new cases may “on the odd occasion” arbitrarily de-select a judge.
This explanation is given in a statement from the Judiciary which was released following a complaint from Justice Frank Seepersad that he had been “bumped off” of the Judiciary’s random case assignment system.
Although Justice Seepersad’s complaint is not referred to directly, according to the statement, the automated system is supported by a Calendaring and Case Management Committee in the event that a judge needs to recuse him or herself, is unable to sit for any reason after random assignment or to address any problems relating to assignments.
On occasions when the system has de-selected a judge the issue has been treated appropriately “and in no way affects the random assignment of matters as they continued to be assigned to all other judges on the civil docket.”
The statement continued: “The Case Management System has functioned to date as originally designed and operated within the limits of redundancies normally associated with this type of software.
“The Judiciary is committed to best practices in the delivery of justice. The institution aims to ensure that members of the public have continuing access to Judicial Officers who are dedicated to the just and expeditious disposition of all matters. Equity and integrity remain among the core principles which inform and guide the institution’s decision making whilst maintaining at all times the independence of Judicial Officers and the Judiciary as a whole.”
Earlier this week, Justice Seepersad complained to Justice Ricky Rahim, who chairs the Case Calendaring and Management Committee after he realised that no new cases had been assigned to him for several months. Clarification was sought and acting Supreme Court Registrar Kerri-Ann Oliverie-Stuart confirmed that Seepersad had been removed.
She also allegedly claimed that she could not determine the reason for Seepersad’s removal but noted that other judges had experienced similar issues in the past.
Seepersad later wrote to Oliverie-Stuart to call for an investigation as he said that the situation could lead to allegations of internal forum shopping.
“Ultimately far more harm will be occasioned to the integrity of the institution if this scenario is not expeditiously, systematically and comprehensively engaged and the perception of possible “internal forum shopping” is left to fester,” he said.
“Whether by accident or design, the situation which unfolded is untenable.”