DPP stands her ground
Christoper Serju, Gleaner Writer
"I AM going to speak to you today about professionalism and service above self. Is it possible in these challenging times? And believe you me ladies and gentlemen, since it seems that there are one or two people out there, who wish to make Paula Vanessa Llewellyn flavour of the month ... ."
It was with these words that Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Paula Llewellyn kick-started her address to Monday night's awards dinner hosted by the Department of Correctional Services at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel, New Kingston. And throughout her keynote address, the State's top prosecutor made it very clear that she would not be swayed in the execution of her duties as she saw fit.
"When you are tested, when you are reported or purported to be reported to a body that really cannot tell you how to exercise your discretion - that is whether to offer no evidence or to enter a nolle (prosequi); it is so important that when the fire is being turned up in the kitchen you not only step up to the plate courageously, but you stand your ground and refuse to be intimidated by anybody!" she declared.
The DPP went on to make it clear that she was reacting to the fact that Terrence Williams, commissioner of the Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM), had reported her to the Parliament, expressing concerns about her handling of the Robert 'Kentucky Kid' Hill case. The DPP has since accused Williams of being ignorant of the facts which led to her decision not to proceed with the case, and the discord between both offices seems to be escalating.
In his report, the INDECOM boss contends that it was ineffective prosecution on the part of the DPP's office in the matter of the fatal shooting of Hill that led to the five accused being freed. This after the DPP told the court it would be impossible to mount a viable case against Corporal Uriel Anderson and Constables Gary Thomas and Norval Warren and the two civilians, Marvia Morgan and Donovan Brown. Llewellyn has slammed Williams for reporting her to Parliament, charging that he was "ignorant of the facts".
And on Monday night, she sought to explain her actions this way. "You cannot do that which is not right in order to be expedient. If you have no evidence, then you must do the right thing, and to do the wrong thing, not to offer new evidence, in my view, would have been a piece of professional corruption which I will not engage in."
She continued: "So the thing is, I'm a prosecutor (and) that is my remit, but being a prosecutor means that I must be fearless but fair. Therefore, that means that I must have the discipline, I must have the courage to fully execute my craft under the Constitution, which ensures that I must make my decision without fear or favour, but without being influenced by anyone, including, it starts with I (the letter I), and I leave it at that ... ."
Explaining that it was important that the actions of people who hold such high offices continue to be accountable and transparent to the public, the DPP also took aim at journalists, whom she accused of distorting the facts.