UPP senator acknowledges benefits of judge-alone trials, but insists the accused should have the right to choose

A United Progressive Party (UPP) senator has expressed concern about the
now-permanent Trial by Judge Alone Bill, saying that those accused of a crime
should have a choice in how they are tried.

The Bill was debated in the Senate on Tuesday, May 21.
Senator Johnathan Joseph – while having no fundamental issue with the
decision – says he is still of the opinion that the accused should have a say in
whether they are tried by a judge alone or by a jury of their peers.
He acknowledges that the law – passed in 2021 – has managed to reduce a
backlog of cases; but Joseph says the right to choose is fundamental and
should not be taken away from any person.

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and social-distancing protocols, a
system for trials by a judge alone was implemented through what should have
been sunset legislation.

Then, in 2022, an amendment was made, extending the law for another year,
with a promise of consultations in order to make trial by judge alone a
permanent fixture.
But Senator Joseph is asking when those discussions were held.
He notes that there are pros and cons to a trial by a judge alone, one of which
is its cost effectiveness.

However, he maintains that persons who are accused of criminal offenses
should have a say in the manner in which their trials are conducted, since they
are presumed innocent until proven guilty.

That was United Progressive Party Senator Johnathan Joseph.