Tue | Dec 6, 2016

Bar Association takes judge to task

Published:Saturday | February 28, 2015 | 12:00 AM

The Cornwall Bar Association (CBA) is objecting to remarks made by a Supreme Court judge to jurors after they returned a not-guilty verdict this month in a bigamy case in the Westmoreland Circuit Court.

In a statement, the CBA stated that Justice Martin Gayle's comments had called into disrepute the very jury system on which our criminal court system is based. The CBA made a special plea for jurors to be treated with respect.

The CBA disclosed that the judge described the verdict as "disgraceful" and ordered a probe to ascertain if the jurors "were reached". It said further that the judge's directive to the jurors "to go and never return here" was an unwarranted abuse of a group of men and women who had fulfilled their civic duty to serve as jurors.

The statement, which was signed by Michael Erskine, president of the CBA, noted that the judge had also instructed the registrar of the court to communicate copies of the written evidence to the Canadian Embassy.

"The Cornwall Bar Association is of the view that if our criminal justice system is to retain some semblance of integrity, it is vital that we all treat jurors with respect before, during, and after we ask them to return a true verdict according to the evidence and in accordance with the oath."

Gayle had made comments on February 10 when Ian Samuels was acquitted by the seven-member jury of charges of bigamy, uttering forged documents, conspiracy to uttering forged documents, and possession of forged documents .

Samuels, a Jamaican, was accused of marrying a Canadian woman while already married.