Bottom-up approach in the administration of Justice

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I read an article titled: CJ Koome roots for ‘bottom-up approach’ in justice delivery on the star website.

The title drew my attention as a supporter of the hustler movement. Reading the article, I don’t think the chief Justice really seized about the issues at the bottom of the pyramid. The article largely talked about commercial and anti-corruption courts.  “We hope to see innovations in time which could include the Commercial Courts and the Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Courts adopting “night court” shifts i.e. court sittings between 5.00 p.m. and 8.00 p.m., to ensure that their performance and resolution of cases in real-time,” read the article

CJ Koome noted that with the approach, no cases should stay in a trial court beyond three years and an appellate court beyond one year.

The real bottom-up approach should dictate that the magistrate courts are the ones that need a lot of investment. There should be at least a magistrate court every constituency and a prison too.The Chief Justice must first understand what bottom-up cases are. They are not high-level graft but drunk and disorderly, selling alcohol without a license, larceny, traffic offenses and such kind of cases that are clogging our justice system. These cases affect the poor and keep most of them perpetually poor because like a big disease, these court cases mean they have to sell their cow or even land to solve them.

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There is really no need for the majority of cases to take months while the poor are in remand or are forced to plead guilty then endure long remand “jail”. These cases should be heard and determined almost within 2 weeks and any prison sentence should be served within the community or within walking distance from their homes. Heck, the majority can be heard in a single day – call all witnesses in the morning – and deliver judgment in the afternoon kind of thing – otherwise, right now the majority of the poor are either pleading GUILTY or have to endure long remand term as their cases take ages to be determined.  The courts can even go further and waive bail for most of these bottom-up offences.

The Chief Justice and the Judiciary can have structured talks with MPS to enable CDF to set up courts in their constituencies and small prisons for minor offences. With about 300 such lower courts and 47 High Courts at the county level and then 8 court of appeals at former provincial HQ – and Supreme Court in Nairobi, the administration of justice will timely for every citizen.

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