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'Out of order' - Chuck rebukes High Court judge over death squad cases comment

Published:Thursday | April 5, 2018 | 12:00 AMLivern Barrett/ Senior Gleaner Writer

A High Court judge has prompted a sharp rebuke from Justice Minister Delroy Chuck for threatening to toss out three of the so-called police death squad cases that have stalled in the courts. This because of the Government's refusal to pay the attorneys representing the accused cops.

Justice Glen Brown delivered the warning after the murder trial of police Corporal Kevin Adams, who has been in custody for four years, was again stalled in the Home Circuit Court because of the stalemate over the legal fees.

"If the Government is holding hard end and nothing can get off the ground, I can do two things: I can set another trial date, or I can throw it out," Brown said before daring anyone to challenge his authority.

"I can tell anybody. I have the power to do it. I have done nothing that anyone can take any disciplinary action against me," he insisted.

But Chuck sought to make it clear that the Government only offered to make a "contribution" to the cops' legal defence.

"For the judge to say that the case will be stopped because the Government has not paid is quite out of order and injudicious. A judge is speaking out of turn and out of order for making such comments," Chuck said.

"It is not the duty and responsibility of the Government to pay the legal fees of defence attorneys. What the Government has done is to offer a contribution to the Police Federation for the payment of fees for police officers who have been charged for serious offences," he explained.

Justice Brown has instructed that the three cases - involving six policemen - be placed in his courtroom on Monday. "So they have the whole weekend to do what they have to do," he warned.

He also took aim at Chuck, who, on Tuesday, was critical of the backlog of cases before the courts. "This is part of the reason for the backlog. He must put his money where his mouth is," Justice Brown said.

Corporal Adams is charged with three counts of murder and is one of several policemen from the Clarendon division who are awaiting trial on the capital charge as well as wounding with intent. The cases have stalled as the attorneys insist that they be paid while Chuck has described the fees, said to be $107 million, as "outrageous" and "preposterous".