A seminar was held for Justices of the Peace in the Magistrates Court on August 15. Fifteen Justices of the Peace, fourteen men and one woman, attended this important meeting which was presided over by Magistrate Ancella J. Evans. Following an opening prayer by Reverend Erskine Wells of the Assembly of God Church, Sandy Point, a welcome was given by Valerie Dean, Court Supervisor.
Magistrate Evans opened the seminar by giving a brief introduction of herself and saying how much she has enjoyed her two years of service on Abaco. She has served in the capacity of magistrate for five years with previous appointments being in Long Island, Bimini and Court number 6 in Nassau where she dealt with a very wide range of matters. Prior to service as a magistrate, Mrs. Evans worked in private practice and also taught law. She stated that she enjoys providing this service to the Bahamian people.
This was the second such seminar Mrs. Evans has held for Justices of the Peace on Abaco. “Law is constantly changing and it is very important to stay abreast of the law. I have a very busy schedule but want to hold these seminars once a year,” she stated. Mrs. Evans likes to adopt an informal style for these seminars so that her audience will feel free to ask questions at any stage of the proceedings. This informality seemed to be very much appreciated since the persons present had many questions for the magistrate during the meeting.
Magistrate Evans told the Justices of the Peace assembled that they play an extremely important role within the community. They can assist the magistrate, fill in while she is away, and sign affidavits and search warrants.
“Confidentiality is extremely important and a great deal of trust is laid in you,” she told them. She also reminded them that they were chosen for this position because they are persons of good character within the community, have high moral standards and the very highest ideals within society and are therefore examples within the community.
Topics covered during this seminar were: Role and Function of Justices of Peace; Ethical Considerations; Bail Principles, Conduct of both Criminal and Civil trials; Preparation of Affidavits; Preparation of Wills; Important Issues of inheritance and Legal Formalities of Wills. Important Legislation referred to included: The Magistrate’s Act, Criminal Procedure Code, Penal Code and Bail Act.
At the close of the seminar Magistrate Evans thanked the Justices of the Peace for their assistance throughout the year and stated that she would be keeping up with any new legislature which she would then inform them of at the next meeting.