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Champagnie: Lawyers have duty to help fight crime

Published:Tuesday | September 17, 2019 | 12:14 AMNickoy Wilson/Gleaner Writer
Peter Champagnie
Peter Champagnie

The deaths of members of the local Bar since the start of the year serve as a sad reminder that lawyers are “not immune to the savagery of criminal conduct”, according to prominent attorney-at-law Peter Champagnie.

Last Friday evening, attorney-at-law Sasha-Kay Fairclough was shot and killed and her mother seriously injured when gunmen sprayed their car with bullets in Ocho Rios, St Ann.

In January, attorney-at-law Gareth Forbes was shot and killed at his St Andrew home, while in February, the body of attorney-at-law William Hines was found in a hole in the community of Orange Hill on the border of Trelawny and St James. Hines was reported missing on January 6.

“While we are guardians of the rights of individuals and defend our clients to the best of our ability within the confines of the law and all ethical standards, we have a greater responsibility in this new dispensation to also and equally, with force and vigour, offer solutions in the way of crime fighting and crime prevention,” Champagnie said.

He was speaking at the opening of the Michaelmas term of the downtown Kingston-based Home Circuit Court.

Supreme Court judge, Justice Vivene Harris, expressed condolences to the family and friends of Fairclough on behalf of the judiciary.

Justice Harris told the court that the death of the attorney has brought sharply into focus the desire to see a Jamaica in which crime is significantly reduced.

With 1,037 cases set for the new term, 552 of which are murders, President of the Jamaica Bar Association (JAMBAR), Emile Leiba, said that it was “not a number we can adjudicate our way out of”.

He said: “It is hoped that we find new and novel ways to deal with the number of cases.”

The JAMBAR president called on all stakeholders to work together to achieve a more efficient justice system.