Wed | Jul 18, 2018

Justice in whose interest?

Published:Thursday | March 17, 2016 | 12:00 AM


In the Sunday Gleaner article 'Abuse of power?' (March 13, 2016), it was reported that the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Paula Llewellyn halted a trial in its track before the presiding judge could make a no-case submission ruling in the Home Circuit Court.

Llewellyn argued that she made the entry of nolle prosequi as per the request of the prosecutor, in the interest of justice, so that disclosures could be made prior to the commencement of a new trial of the matter.

There are issues of seminal importance arising from this unusual decision to preempt the ruling of a judge, on a legal submission, that must be addressed in order to correct and prevent any abuse of power by the DPP, and unfairness to the accused in the proceeding, which is what obtains in this case.

Not only is it highly unusual for a prosecutor to halt a trial before a judge could make a ruling as submitted by the defence, but it was peculiar for the judge who controls the proceeding to have allowed it in the circumstance.

If the interest of justice is to be upheld and promoted in this case, then the judge should have made her ruling on the no-case submission and act to prevent the prosecution from halting the proceeding with the view to restarting the trial.

Llewellyn was reported as saying that she was guided by her constitutional authority and ethics when she acceded to the request of the prosecutor in making that entry.

It begs the question: What prosecutorial ethic is demonstrated when the right of the accused to a fair trial is being sullied, and that such action by a constitutional authority such as the DPP could pave the way for the unfettered infringement of the constitutional rights of accused persons that are on trial?

The pendulum of justice appears to have swung in one direction here. The accused was certainly not the beneficiary of fairness, nor were his rights respected. This is a travesty.

In any fair, just and independent legal system, the court would balance the accused's interests in finality against society's interest.