Gordon Robinson | If you really want to solve crime
Let me make something 100 per cent clear: I'm not a 'defence lawyer'.
Frankly, I don't know what a 'defence lawyer' is, but I know I'm not one. To be even more specific, from the very first day I graduated law school, I've acted unfairly by insisting I'd NEVER practise criminal law (Traffic Court not included). Why? Here's the unfair part: "Because," I answer boldly, "I'll NEVER assist one criminal to evade justice." I was young and foolish, hence prepared to ignore:
(a) Certain fundamental principles such as every person deserving to be represented; and
(b) The adverse effect my rather stubborn attitude would have on that principle.
Nevertheless, throughout my almost 40 years at the Bar, I've stuck like glue to MY principle, practising (when I used to practise regularly) strictly as a civil advocate mostly in the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal. Decades ago, a taxi driver who was a close friend of a distant family member (related by marriage) was involved in a brouhaha with the police and was charged in the Petty Sessions Court with using indecent language.
In those days, I believe he was facing the possibility of a $40 fine. He pleaded with me, and so, out of duty to family, I took his case. I also recall in the early '80s defending a Chinese grocer with a large store in Half-Way Tree (might've been Chang's Emporium) against a price-gouging charge (the grocer was a commercial client of the firm) and succeeding on a point of law. Accordingly, I can proudly announce that I've a 100 per cent record at the criminal Bar because I won both (non-violent) cases and fully intend to take that 2-0 record to my grave.
So when Booklist Boyne produces hundreds of words on how to immediately reduce crime equating undiluted, unfiltered, unexpurgated crap as runny as a sunnyside-up egg yolk and seeks to pre-empt exposure as a craven opportunist by writing: "Expect to hear defence lawyers on every talk show and to see editorials and columns inveighing in Manichaean terms about an approaching apocalypse and the end of democracy and human rights in Jamaica ... ," he can't possibly be referring to me.
As I've painstakingly proven, I'm not a 'defence lawyer'. Unlike Booklist, who hasn't seen a camera he doesn't love, I never appear on talk shows. Ask my favourite journalist, Dionne Jackson-Miller, on whom I've held a not-so-secret 'crunch' (one for TV trivia buffs) for years, how many times I've declined her kind offers to appear on her talk shows.
BTW, Booklist, I Googled 'Manichaean' (a pompous, unnecessary, show-off word). Nobody can accuse me of being religious or suffering from a philosophy of 'moral dualism'. I think I've established over the years that my morals, although unacceptable to many, are consistent and always MINE.
So, here's a critique from a Jamaican citizen who can't be accused of any of the biases of which Booklist appears petrified. To begin with, I've been telling you for years that unless Booklist can quote an opinion from a long list of book titles, he's incapable of crafting one of his own. Please note that this is his first column in quite a while in which he can't quote a single eminent author or boast about reading one word on his topic. Left to his own devices, he fumbles with logic like a drunk with his car keys then piggy-backs on the PM's proposals like a man seeking a pretty lady's favours with nothing to offer her save what he believes she wants to hear.
CURTAILING CIVIL LIBERTIES
Booklist condemns "human-rights fundamentalists" sweepingly: "What irks me is not that these human-rights fundamentalists are stressing the long-term things which need to be done. I have no disagreement with them. My problem is when these same persons harshly criticise the Government for not doing something now, when nothing they are proposing can have any practical effect on crime now ... ", followed almost immediately by his own 'proposal' for immediate crime reduction: "The only anti-crime measures which can have an immediate effect on crime deterrence must involve some curtailment of civil liberties enjoyed in normal times."
WTF? Which civil liberties should be curtailed, Booklist? Are you REAL? All you seem to want to do is jump on the PM's bandwagon like an opportunist huckster without the courage to make one specific proposal of your own. And you've the brass balls to criticise others making specific proposals? Barf!
Here's Booklist P.I.P. Boyne clinging on to the PM's coat-tails by his fingernails: "I was happy to hear the prime minister announce that 'we will be creating the legislative environment to support the establishment of the rule of law in communities where it is absent and to separate criminals from communities they have captured." He went on to say: "We will be creating, under this framework, zones where the security forces and other government agencies will be able to conduct special long-term operations in high-crime areas, including extensive searches for guns and contraband. Excellent!"
What pusillanimous pedantry! Apart from the absence of an original Booklist proposal, he's encouraging the PM in this arrant nonsense about "legislative environment". Really? Seriously? Booklist, even you can see that the police can't even keep accused citizens in custody for more than a week; have insufficient tools to properly investigate or prepare cases for court; can't obtain even a 40 per cent conviction rate; consider a dead body in the street to be a 'cleared-up' case; and you're excited about LEGISLATIVE ENVIRONMENTS? C'mon, man!
It gets worse. I bet you didn't read this bit carefully:
"There must be more curfews, searches and detentions in areas of high criminality. Certain people who nobody dares testify against and who can afford the highest-priced criminal lawyers must be taken off the streets and detained."
Well, kiss my red, wrinkled rungus kungus mi nungus, curry and serve it with naan! I honestly don't know where to start. Apparently, tough-talking, feared policemen like Reneto must be handed the ultimate terror weapon, which is to be able to snarl to 'certain people', "You're DETAINED!" Yep! That'll have them shaking in their boots. Detained for how long, Booklist? Until "nobody" changes his mind about testifying or the "highest-priced criminal lawyers" increase their fees?
This has to be the rankest stupidity ever committed to writing by alleged intelligentsia. We've had curfews, searches, and detentions from the days of Joe Williams, one of the most fearsome of kick-down-door policemen. What we haven't possessed for far too long is
(a) the forensic ability to collect detailed evidence from a crime scene without contaminating it or to prove cases against criminals without the need for eyewitnesses; or
(b) the technological ability to track individuals' movements, purchases, actions, and criminal histories;
(c) a court system that can try a case within six months or a DPP's office with the zeal, commitment, technical and practical skills necessary to convert non-slam-dunk cases into convictions.
I've said it before (ad nauseam), and if an influential columnist like Booklist Boyne wasn't so deeply concerned with sucking up to whichever PM is in office, he'd understand that these "solutions" only create more problems. The only viable solutions are to:
1. Properly equip the police force (FULLY not incrementally). Close superfluous ministries and divert funds, if necessary;
2. Remove every corrupt cop from the JCF. Fire every man if it's the only way you can be sure. Abolish the army and convert it into a new, competent, honest police force;
3. Disarm the citizenry (politicians included) and disband the FLA. Why's an 82-year-old JP carrying a gun? That only ends up arming gunmen;
4. Address education fundamentally, including a swift review and dismantling of the teaching-by-rote system. Create police liaisons in schools. Let's ensure that the next generation has a good relationship of mutual trust with the police before it's too late,
These are non-negotiable, sine qua non for the reduction of crime. Plenty more is required, but start HERE and you have a chance to reduce crime in my children's lifetime. Continue with harsh new legislation, crime zones, more boots on the ground, policies implemented by a rotten JCF, and look forward to an eternity of escalating violent crime.
Peace and love.
- Gordon Robinson is an attorney-at-law. Email feedback to columns