Mark Wignall | Delroy Chuck, have a talk with your daughter
When Minister of Justice Delroy Chuck criticised the break-of-day, early-morning arrest of ex-education minister Ruel Reid, and others caught up in damning allegations of corruption, Chuck came across as one member of the privileged class standing up for another as they both breathed rarefied air.
After Chuck backtracked, withdrew the statement and almost stumbled into an apology, he found some amount of redemption. That part of Chuck’s personality where his class privilege, his legal training, and him representing a constituency with more than a few garrison pockets, must recognise the usefulness of all parts of him coming together. He gets back to being the good man that we know he is.
But then, of course, another ethical problem looms. His daughter, who is also an attorney-at-law, is representing Reid. The PNPYO has suggested that the arrangement constitutes a conflict of interest. I see more cynical perceptions.
I am certain that the lady has every right to earn her living by applying all of the training that her profession allows her. But, she may wish to think about the arrangement and wonder if it could be perceived more as a ‘convergence’ of interests.
My lawyer friend emailed me: “Mark, I read in the online Gleaner, today, October 11, that Minister Chuck’s daughter will be representing Mr Reid. Ms Chuck, the daughter of the minister of justice, under who the DPP works ( I think that is the hierarchy)? That is bad business and could be the JLP’s undoing in the next election. Ms Chuck has no business representing Mr Reid, while her father is minister of justice. In fact, as long as Mr Chuck is in the Cabinet of the government, she should not represent Reid. Did she not take the ethics course at Law School? Not only is it a ‘bad’ look to the public, it opens up a Pandora’s box of suspicions.”
Justice minister Delroy Chuck would know that the arrest of Reid, close members of his family and Professor Fritz Pinnock, must not only be a nightmare in their individual lives, but, notwithstanding their personal pain, in the discussions at street level, the jury is in, the court has already ruled and a thousand village lawyers and judges have spoken.
Usually though, at the end of the discussions, there is always the caveat. “Di ting bigger dan we and it may jus drag out until wi go on to anodder scandal.”
How does the daughter of the justice minister not see that the maze which connects her to her father, and the link which connects Delroy Chuck to the JLP, and which runs across Reid as an ex-minister in the JLP administration, and she representing Reid in corruption allegations presents her with ethically dangerous twists and turns?
“If PM Holness is attuned to the issue, I think he will have a word with Minister Chuck and Ms Chuck will be substituted in the case by other counsel,” added my lawyer friend.
The prime minister has turned up the heat on corruption, not only because he knows that the People’s National Party plans to use it as that party’s main foil leading to the next election, but more because he is fully attuned to how it eats out the country from the inside, hollowing out and negating fiscal propriety and reversing economic gains. Plus, it is purely embarrassing.
The jury is not yet fully in as to how corruption will play out in the next election. In the interim, a father needs to huddle with his daughter and offer the benefit of his experience.