Sat | Oct 21, 2017

Sinking to a new low when we denigrate justice system - judge

Published:Friday | October 14, 2016 | 12:00 AMLivern Barrett

A High Court judge on Wednesday responded to reports from a top criminal defence attorney that persons have used the so-called X-6 murder case to suggest that the nation's judicial system is corrupt, calling them disturbing.

Justice Lloyd Hibbert noted that Jamaica's jurisprudence is well respected throughout the Commonwealth and said he found it disturbing that persons were casting aspersions about the judiciary.

"We are sinking to a new low when people try to denigrate the justice system," the respected jurist cautioned.

"People will resort to lawlessness when persons seek to belittle the system," Hibbert continued.

The warning came in the Home Circuit Court, where the long-delayed murder trial of businessman Patrick Powell was expected to start on Wednesday. It is now scheduled to start next Tuesday.

SOCIAL MEDIA TIRADE

Powell, who resides in the upscale Belgrade Loop area, was arrested and charged in connection with the shooting death of 17-year-old Kingston College student Kahjeel Mais, in Havendale, St Andrew, in July 2011.

Before Wednesday's adjournment, one of Powell's attorneys, Deborah Martin,` complained that relatives of the slain schoolboy had taken to social media to make disparaging comments about the case and the judicial system.

Martin read from a number of messages, which she told the court had been posted on Facebook and Instagram. According to her, the messages suggested that Powell was guilty and that the trial was being delayed because of corruption.

"There has been an extensive tirade on social media, commenting on the case and suggesting that Mr Powell is guilty," Martin asserted.

She complained that the messages could influence persons who may be selected to serve as jurors and affect her client's chances of getting a fair trial.

"We don't know who reads social media," Martin underscored.

After listening to her submissions, Hibbert ordered the removal of all posts on social media about the case.

He also instructed that nothing further about the case be posted on any social media platform.

"Anything done to improperly influence a tribunal is tantamount to contempt of court," Hibbert warned.

"A trial must be fair to everybody - the accuser and the accused," he stressed.

Mais was travelling in a taxi, which reportedly collided with a BMW X-6. According to reports, the driver of the luxury vehicle came out and fired one bullet into the taxi then fled the scene.

livern.barrett@gleanerjm.com