Mon | Aug 21, 2017

Letter of the Day | No client of mine has ever confessed to murder

Published:Wednesday | May 3, 2017 | 5:18 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:

I see where Patria-Kaye Aarons is ‘raining’ on lawyers in her column of Tuesday, May 2, 2017. But she should stick to her forte: the weather. But since you didn’t go to law school, let me help you.

Clients instruct attorneys, and it is the attorney’s duty to present those instructions on their client’s behalf.

Defence attorneys investigate their instructions and the State’s case because while it is said that each person before the court is innocent until proven guilty, we have to prove our client’s innocence by cross-examination and evidence challenging the State’s case.

Further, like priests, lawyers cannot judge their clients. Lawyers may withdraw from a case if there is an impediment that would prevent them from representing their client as required by the canons of ethics. It would serve Ms Aarons well to read those canons.

In my 41 years, I have never had a client confess to a wanton murder. They may say, “I shot him, but … .” That ‘but’ may turn out to be a defence. No attorney will fight an unfightable case.

It is the media who fail to do investigative journalism that make court proceedings a big conquest, as so-called facts are misrepresented to the public, which makes an acquittal appear to be some magic act. If journalists publicise from an informed position, it would not be so. It is the media who label attorneys ‘big lawyers’.

It is no sleight of hand or trick that results in an acquittal, and we certainly are not lawyers because we wish to “share in the spoils”, or “duel for bragging rights”. And by the way, many ‘big lawyers’ do free work.

NO COMPLAINTS

Regarding lottery scammers, there are no complaints in Jamaica. Most of the complainants are made to the prosecuting authorities in the United States by their citizens, and not to our police.

The persons charged with scamming in Jamaica are those held by the police with paraphernalia that would indicate their involvement. But they are most time the small fry. So, Ms Aarons, what about the business people from whom expensive, top-of-the-line cars are bought in cash. Are they taking scammer money?

This is how Jamaica can reduce crime:

- No child should be expelled or allowed to drop out of school. All Jamaica’s children need to be fully and properly educated.

- Government needs to identify and give incentives to young people to pursue those professions needed to advance the country.

- Proper parenting programmes need to be a priority.

- Address the problem of Jamaican mothers who are facilitators for the crimes of their sons. Absentee fathers, too, must understand that they need to play a vital role in the stability of their children, even if they don’t live with them.

- Small-business loans should be more available.

- The private sector must open the way to more jobs.

- Emphasis should be placed on prisoner rehabilitation so that recidivism is reduced.

VALERIE NEITA-ROBERTSON, QC

Kingston