Thu | Aug 17, 2017

Letter of the Day | A bad case will only get worse

Published:Friday | June 2, 2017 | 6:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:

I write in response to J'Aristotle's Jottings ('We want justice!'), published in The Gleaner on Thursday, June 1, 2017.

One would readily accept that the justice system needs great improvement, especially where infrastructure is concerned, as well as a need for an increase in prosecutors and judges. After all, we all want a justice system that we are proud of and in which we have the greatest confidence.

However, we must be careful of the criticisms we level on the system from an uninformed position. It does us no good and is a diversion from the real causes of inefficiency.

Statistics have demonstrated that 70 per cent of adjournments in the Supreme Court have been granted to the prosecution, and of the 30 per cent granted to the defence, only a handful of attorneys are responsible for those.

That is why the chief justice of Jamaica has moved away from the blame game and has led the way for all stakeholders to accept responsibility for the shortcomings of the system and to commit to its improvement.

We must be careful what we view as justice, because justice is not necessarily an individual's expectations of the outcome of any particular case.

Speaking from an informed position, the Yallahs shooting case was fully and properly investigated and prosecuted. The results reflect the failure of witnesses to speak the truth and the uncovering of those failings in court. The video of the event that was taken by a bystander with no interest to serve, spoke loudly of the unfolding events.

The jurors demonstrated that they examined and considered every aspect of the evidence carefully and fully. To therefore challenge their verdict is to disparage their service and discourage them and others from coming forward to serve in the future. They must be lauded for their independence of mind and their ability not to be biased.

 

JUSTICE IS DELIVERED

 

In respect of Carlos Hill, a weak case cannot get better with time, and certainly time can only erode the weaknesses further. Try to remember that there was a previous trial in which the indictment had to be amended in the middle of the case and that case was discontinued to start anew. Was this a demonstration of the weaknesses?

Try to understand and appreciate that Carlos Hill has rights, as does every citizen, and that the director of public prosecutions' remit is to ensure that justice is delivered, and to do so she has to delicately balance the public interest within that concept of delivering justice, free from bias, prejudice or influence.

Let us, therefore, not view justice as our own view of who should be adjudged guilty or not guilty until we have all the facts. If we do so, our myopic views can cause a groundswell of uninformed opinion that ultimately will damage the justice system.

VALERIE NEITA-ROBERTSON (QC)

Attorney-at-law