Mon | Sep 21, 2020

Opinion is not law

Published:Wednesday | July 29, 2020 | 12:13 AM

THE EDITOR, Madam:

Recent highly publicised pronouncements from certain attorneys-at-law that the continued detention of their clients was declared unconstitutional by the court were found to be impetuous and erroneous. These said statements caused heated legal and political discussions across Jamaica. The only ruling the judge made was for the five men detained under the state of public emergency to appear before him.

It is important, in maintaining the credibility and legitimacy of our justice system, that attorneys’ utterances accurately reflect the written pronouncements of the court. Attorneys have ethical obligations to, among other things, assist in maintaining the dignity of the courts and administration of justice. It is therefore absolutely important to await written declarations from the court before making any public statement on the relevant matter.

The Jamaican Bar Association was swift in reprimanding the attorney general (AG) for “undermining public confidence in the judiciary and the rule of law” for comments she made via Twitter on the matter. My view is that the AG should have stated “given my over 20 years of legal experience, I find it strange that a single judge could rule on a constitutional matter. I await the written judgment in order to make a more thorough comment”. The Bar Association, however, appears lethargic in addressing the glaring infraction by Messrs attorneys in misleading the country.

While I do agree that the continued detention of any Jamaican for a year without being charged is unconstitutional, until and unless the Constitutional Court declares this to be so, my opinion is not the law.

ANDRIA D. WHYTE WALTERS