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Courts Should Emulate Mpigi Court Innovations - PJ
(L-R): Hon. Justice Ojok (Resident Judge, Mpigi) handing Hon. Justice Dr. Zeija(Principal Judge) a plaque at the Mpigi High Court premises

"Now this is how all archives should look like. We are going to use this as a model for all courts across the country,” were the opening remarks of the Principal Judge, Hon. Justice Dr Flavian Zeija as he entered the Mpigi Chief Magistrate's Court archives room.

This was one of the places that the Principal Judge, flanked by the Chief Registrar, HW Sarah Langa Siu visited on his last leg of the tour of courts under Mpigi High Court Circuit on Thursday May 27, 2021.

The archive room, fitted with modern glass cabinets sits on a wall-to-wall maroon carpet. The files in the cabinets are well cataloged according to case category and clustered in bundles according to their year of registration to allow easy retrieval.

The CR commended the organizational and managerial skills at both the Mpigi High Court and Chief Magistrates Court. "As management, we are interested in integrity, performance ,time management and you are doing all this. Let me thank you for the innovations especially the daily targets, timely retrieval, archives, and keeping an updated CCAS...I think we can now declare that it is so far the best. You have really set the standard so high," she said.

Case Management

Speaking on case management, the Resident Judge, Hon. Justice Oyuko Anthony Ojok, reported that between March and May 19, the court had cleared 215 cases out of which 114 were backlog. Hon. Justice Justice Ojok attributed the court’s performance to deliberate efforts towards avoiding unnecessary adjournments, giving short adjournments not exceeding two weeks and starting court on time.

He noted that there was a need for multiple sessions where other judges could support him to clear the pending 1,952 cases out of which 1,147 are backlog. Hon. Justice Oyuko said that much as several interventions had been put in place to clear the workload, one judge couldn't clear the backlog. "Even if I worked every day of the year, I cannot clear the backlog alone," he said.

Speaking on behalf ofthe Mpigi CM Court, the Chief Magistrate, HW Ruth Nabaasa, reported that the court has a workload of 1,363 cases with 365 cases as backlog.

The two court officials decried the absence of the Assistant Registrar, unstable power supply, insufficient space, and a heavy workload.

Regarding office space, the PJ advised the team to use containers to create more space. He reiterated that other challenges with financial implications will be dealt within the next Financial Year. 

Hon. Justice Dr Zeija also emphasized the need to ascertain jurisdiction before handling any matter. "Do not accept to handle a case where the subject matter is not certain, at least it should have an estimated value," he stressed. 

The Judicial Officers were called upon to uphold the principles of integrity, zero tolerance to corruption, and hard work. The PJ also thanked the stakeholders who were present to welcome him for always supporting the administration of justice cause. These included representatives of different JLOS institutions, the clergy, and local leaders.

Judicial Officers serving under the circuit were present. These included; HW Ssemwanga Nalugya Mariam (Mpigi, Kibibi and Kanoni), HW Byarugaba Adam (Mpigi), HW Mukoya Maureen(Mpigi), HW Awidi Suzan (Buwama), HW Kabugho Byakutaga Caroline (Nsangi), HW Pamela Muhwezi Bomukama (Nsangi), and HW Opio Charles (Bujuuko).

The PJ's visit at Mpigi was crowned with a luncheon during which a cake was cut to celebrate the court's milestones in administering justice to the people, and awarding of plaques to those that have contributed to the cause. Those awarded included; Former LCV Chairperson Mpigi, Mr. Peter Claver Mutuluza, the Chief Magistrate, the Chief Registrar, the Resident Judge, and the Principal Judge. 

Other Courts Visited

The PJ equally visited Bujuuko Court is sandwiched between a furniture workshop and a food market in Bujuuko town. HW Charles Opio, the Magistrate Grade Two reported that the court whose workload is 59 criminal cases does not have any backlog. 

Here, the PJ advised the magistrate to look for better premises to relocate the court. HW Opio raised concerns about the lack of a seal. In response, the CR said there are plans to procure seals for all courts. 

The last stop was at Nsangi Magistrates Court where it was reported that the workload is 704 cases with 284 categorized as backlog. The court is manned by Magistrates Grade One; HW Byakutaga as the in charge and HW Muhwezi. The two led PJ and CR on a guided tour of the new court premises.

Innovations and Best Practices at Mpigi Court

Daily Targets Form: The Daily Targets Form has a table with three columns for the; case number, the parties, and results. After court or at the end of each day, the column for results corresponding with that case number is updated with the outcome of the proceedings. The form is sent to the Data Entry Clerk to update CCAS. Similarly, there is a movement book indicating when and why a file is moved. 

The CR and PJ said that they will consider introducing this tool in all courts to help update CCAS and minimize cases of missing files. 

Organization of the Archives: In addition to all files being arranged according to their years of registration and bundled together in chronological order, the archives in which the files are shelved and locked are made up of aluminum and glass material. With such an innovation it becomes easy to maintain records/documents in an orderly, clean manner, and secure from termites.

Weekly meetings to review targets and regular monthly staff meetings are some of the other commendable practices. It was also observed that it is one of the courts with harmonized data between the physical files and the digital record on CCAS.  

Posted 27th, May 2021
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