Magistrate rushing high-profile court cases ahead of retirement
Defendants appearing before outgoing Magistrate Ambrose Ambrister fear their court cases could be bungled as Ambrister allegedly rushes to conclude them ahead of his retirement on Friday.
Ambrister is the magistrate assigned to the high-profile case of former Deputy Director of Urban Renewal Michelle Reckley and four others who were re-arraigned in October 2019 on money laundering charges.
Ambrister, who is also a certified public accountant (CPA), handles the vast majority of financial court matters.
He notified Chief Justice Brian Moree of his plan to retire but was asked to remain on the bench for an additional 30 days.
Consequently, Ambrister is now rushing to wrap up those court matters before his retirement, possibly putting defendants at a disadvantage.
Defense attorneys have allegedly been warned to show up for court dates issued by Ambrister or else, and speedily deal with them, raising fears that justice for their clients could be denied.
This week, Ambrister travelled to Andros to hear 15 court matters in just a few days. He is then required to hand down rulings and give a detailed explanation on each ruling.
Will justice really be served for the defendants appearing before Magistrate Ambrister in his final days on the bench or will they be handed off to the Chief Magistrate or Deputy Chief Magistrate? Defense attorneys fear the matters may be put on hold until Ambrister’s replacement is named.
It remains unclear who will fill this void in the Magistrates Court.
However, Moree has promised to publicly advertise and invite applications for vacant judicial posts.
Will this happen? Time will tell.