Thursday, March 27, 2014

Cuban Light Bulb trial: No Case to Answer

o Case To Answer
On Monday, March 24, 2014, Senior Resident Magistrate Judith Pusey upheld the No Case Submissions (NCS) made by Deborah Martin, Attorney-at-Law (on behalf of Kern Spencer) and Attorney-at-Law K.D. Knight, Q.C. (on behalf of Coleen Wright). She ruled that both had no case to answer and were therefore free to go.

The Prosecution was led by the Director of Public Prosecution, Paula Llewellyn Q.C.. The learned DPP openly disagreed with the decision that a prima facie case was not made out. Indeed on every available opportunity she has vigorously exclaimed (repeating bits of the Reply) that there was a "mountain of evidence"  and that the Senior RM was wrong in law as there was no doubt that there was a case to answer.

This has ignited a conflagration of public perceptions about the administration of justice in Jamaica. For the mass public something seems fundamentally wrong with the system, given the length of time, the postponement of other cases, the amount of man-hours involved in the preparation and execution of the case and at the end only to be told that there is no case to answer. It seem a colossal waste of time and scarce resources, if not incompetence/corruption!

The situation is compounded further by the partisan political genesis. The "scandal" was first brought to public attention by a Minister of Government in the Parliament. Kern Spencer, a former junior Minister of Energy, was reduced to tears and had to be restrained by his opposition colleagues from making a rebuttal. Coleen Wright was at the operative time his personal assistant. The mass media captured sensational bits of the trial. Indeed this was a government minister on trial for corruption and money laundering stemming from the distribution of a gift from the Government and People of Cuba.

We have decided to post  the substance of each No Case Submission(NCS) and the Crown's Reply. We do so without comment on the merits or otherwise of each. To complete the picture, "The Ruling" by Snr. RM Judith Pusey will also be posted. The objective is to assist in getting a better understanding of the arguments advanced by learned Counsel. A No Case Submission is a very technical exercise unfamiliar to those not schooled in law.

For the general public there must be something or someone to answer. If there is no case, then the DPP has to account for professional incompetence and misconduct. If the RM is wrong, then the whole process of the selection, training, continuous education, assessment & monitoring of our judges is in need of urgent review. The remedy cannot be the provision of the right of appeal to be extended to the Prosecution.That may be an important spoke in the wheel: however, there is a myriad of problems besetting the current criminal justice system.

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