Mon | Aug 21, 2017

McCalla urged to examine case of conviction of woman without lawyer, trial

Published:Friday | April 7, 2017 | 4:00 AMJovan Johnson
Mark Golding

Chief Justice Zaila McCalla is being urged to look into the case involving Judith Pusey, a senior judge, who, in 2015, convicted a 33-year-old woman without testimony, trial, or a lawyer - what the Court of Appeal has since ruled "should not ever have occurred".

The suggestion is coming from Opposition Spokesman on Justice Mark Golding, who said, "The chief justice may wish to look into the matter." He told The Gleaner that he would not comment on the remarks made in the Court of Appeal on Wednesday by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Paula Llewellyn, who said that the actions of Pusey "cannot be excused".

However, he said that McCalla, who oversees the parish courts where Pusey is the chief judge, should go through the case involving Nerice Samuels. She was acquitted by the Appeal Court of the unlawful wounding charge for which she had been convicted and sentenced to six months in prison on October 28, 2015. She only served two months as she got bail after filing an appeal.

 

LIVE RECORDINGS

 

Meanwhile, defence lawyer Peter Champagnie said that he could not comment beyond what the Court of Appeal ruled. "As to their reasons, I await to see the written judgment. But it (the case) calls into question an urgent need for live recordings as obtains in other courts so it can save time and cause matters that are not worthy of appeal to be dealt with accordingly."

Unlike in the Supreme Court, where there are court reporters who take notes of proceedings, details of cases in the parish courts come from the notes of judges.

Noting that she was "very, very disturbed" by Pusey's actions, the DPP read an aspect of the judge's transcript of the case, which stated: "There was some discussion between the Bench (judge) and the parties, and I was of the distinct impression that although initially, the accused said she was not guilty, after the discussion and cross-talk, she had accepted responsibility for injuring the complainant."

Samuels has maintained that she pleaded not guilty.

Under the Constitution, accused people have a right to legal representation and "fair procedures".

Llewellyn said that Samuels' conviction was a "clear and blatant disregard by the Bench for due process" and that it cannot be excused "because this is not the first occasion from this particular court".

... No update on judicial code of conduct

Yesterday, Justice Minister Delroy Chuck said that he had no update on a judicial code of conduct and accountability being worked on by the chief justice and the president of the Court of Appeal, Justice Dennis Morrison.

Justice Patrick Brooks, who read the oral judgment of the court, said that Judith Pusey committed a "judicial error", which "should not be repeated", adding that it was in the interests of justice that Nerice Samuels be acquitted and not face a retrial.

Samuels, who is from Franklin Town, St Andrew, said that the judge took her away from her two children without due process and should be sanctioned.

jovan.johnson@gleanerjm.com