No petition to block Buchanan from Bar, says GLC chairman
At no time was there a petition set in motion to block Isat Buchanan from entering the legal profession, says Allan Wood, chairman of the General Legal Council (GLC), the watchdog entity for the profession.
Buchanan was given a 10-year prison term in 1999 when he was convicted of transporting a quantity of drugs on a flight to Florida. He had a previous drug case in Jamaica for which he was convicted and sentenced. Buchanan used his time behind bars in the United States to pursue law.
He was subsequently deported before he enrolled at the Mona campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI) and only recently, was called to the Bar.
Defying The Odds
The Gleaner story on Thursday with the headline, 'Defying The Odds' stated that a petition had been circulated to block Buchanan from entering the legal profession.
However, in a written submission to this newspaper, Woods countered, saying that no attempt was made to hinder Buchanan from being called to the Bar.
"Contrary to suggestion in the article of December 14, there was no petition from anyone objecting to Mr Buchanan's application," the letter, bearing a signature attributed to Woods, said.
According to Woods, it is a requirement of the General Legal Council that in making application for a certificate, all applicants are required to provide an affidavit whether they have any previous criminal convictions and or have been charged with commission of any serious offence.
"The applicant was, therefore, required and did disclose his prior convictions and the circumstances surrounding same," stated Woods.
Continuing, he said: "Upon reviewing that information provided by the applicant in support of his application, the council decided that having regard to his prior criminal convictions, it could not issue a qualifying certificate to the applicant without first satisfying itself to his fitness and good character to be an attorney."
As a result of this, a full hearing was commissioned on November 22, 2017, for the applicant, his witnesses, and his legal representative.
At the end of it all, the council determined that the applicant was a fit and proper person to be enrolled as an attorney-at-law.
"The council came to its decision on the evidence and material before it and having regard to the applicable legal principles that the applicant had to satisfy the council that notwithstanding prior convictions, he was of good character and fit and proper person to be a member of the legal profession," said Woods.