An immediate step that can be undertaken to streamline our justice system is to remove the requirement to make a court appearance to plead guilty for reasonable speeding offences. Recently the Bermuda Sun highlighted that because of delays in processing offenses, the justice system simply cannot cope with the tickets that are being written which is holding back the advancement of technologies that could make our roads safer. This is why the system must be fixed to remove inefficiencies. The one glaring inefficiency that is wasting the time and energy of our courts is unnecessary guilty pleas. Let them simply pay the fine, get the points and be done with it.
If you’ve ever earned yourself a speeding violation you’ve likely recognized how inefficient the process of attending court can be. You appear on your scheduled court date and are required to sit through a wide time range as the court herds groups of people into the courtroom alphabetically. Then, as one of the herd you sit in the courtroom as you listen to each name being called and watch as the majority of people simply stand up and pronounce themselves as guilty as they hear their name and offence called out. This process is an immense waste of time for both our courts and our officers.
In a recent article, the Bermuda Sun highlighted the inefficiencies of our justice system and it’s inability to deal with the volume of offenses. A source close to the speed camera scheme suggested:
“Already the police and the court system are struggling to keep up with parking violations, speeding tickets and all the rest of it. To throw hundreds or thousands of extra fines into that mix would be next to pointless. It would be unenforceable.”
The article also suggests that many police officers are frustrated that the tickets they write are seemingly pointless if the court system is unable to cope with fines issued by them.
The system is broken and needs to be fixed. An immediate step is to eliminate the requirement to appear in court for a reasonable guilty plea. Anyone caught speeding under say 70kph should be given the option to tick guilty on the back of their ticket, sign it and pay the fine. No court appearance, no hassle, simply a fine and the demerit points they earned would be marked against their record. Should they go over their allotment of points then they should then receive a summons to have their license removed. Those wishing to plead not guilty would be welcome to appear in court alongside those with unreasonable offences such as going above 70kph.
Our justice system needs to be streamlined to remove unnecessary bureaucracy. We need to free our police officers and judges so that they can focus on what is important. The Bermuda Sun has highlighted the inefficiencies in our system that are holding back important changes that could help save lives and those inefficiencies should be righted. Requiring people to appear in court simply to stand up and pronounce a guilty plea is exactly the kind of antiquated policy that can and should be changed if we hope to make steps towards a safer Bermuda.