Sun | May 27, 2018

Howard Hamilton - 'Born to Defend'

Published:Sunday | September 23, 2012 | 12:00 AM


"His were the safest hands I ever entrusted any case to."

- Ian Ramsay QC (deceased)

Howard Hamilton, QC, is one of Jamaica's most noted criminal defence attorneys-at-law. Born to Defend, chronicles the highs and lows of a brilliant 50-year legal career in advocacy, which takes him across all 14 parishes of the island as well as the wider Caribbean. Sophisticated and urbane, yet compassionate and sincere, Hamilton recounts some of his most memorable cases with honesty, humility and humour, including extracts from his 73 consecutive acquittals partnership with Patrick Atkinson QC (currently Jamaica's attorney general).

He pays tribute to his mentors Dudley Thompson, QC, and Ian Ramsay, QC, whom he says both had a profound impact on his career and he shares some of the lessons learnt in his 'Thoughts and Tips for Budding Counsel'.

For the general reader as well as for the aspiring and established lawyer alike, Born to Defend captures the inner workings of the criminal justice system through Hamilton's personal experiences and is packed with interesting anecdotes from 'My First Stage Performance' to the 'Green Bay Murder Trials' and the 'Grenada 19 Murder Case', readers are given a firsthand account of some of the most sensational cases in Jamaican and Caribbean legal history, as well as the rare privilege of representing two prime ministers, Hugh Lawson Shearer and Michael Manley, is eloquent testimony to the esteem in which he was held.

Here is an excerpt from Chapter 6

The Potter's Row Murder [Kingston]

When dawn broke on July 15, 1969, little did Mr Randolph Goldson, labourer of 163 Windward Road, Kingston, know that this was going to be the most regrettable, unforgettable day of his life. This was the day Miss Anita Witch, of 28A Potter's Row, Rae Town, Kingston, his girlfriend of six years and mother of his two children, would lose her life at his hands. However, the events, which led ultimately, to this outcome, started a long time before.

Mr Goldson, then an employee of the Caribbean Cement Company at Rockfort, Kingston, had an intimate relationship with Miss Witch dating back some six years, which produced two children, but for three months, leading up to July 15, he had been working the night shift, coming off duty at daybreak. During those three months, he had a day-off and took the opportunity to go to downtown Kingston, to do some shopping. At about midday, he was walking along Harbour Street, when to his horror, he saw Anita and a girlfriend, who also lived at 28A Potter's Row, coming along Harbour Street in the embrace of two United States sailors from a battleship docked in the Kingston Harbour.

He confronted the women before heading straight for their home at Potter's Row, where he proceeded to divide and remove everything capable of being divided that jointly belonged to him and Miss Witch, including one of their children, and made it clear that as far as he was concerned their intimate relationship was at an end. He also declared that he would return a week later to settle any monetary obligation he had to her for maintenance of the child left with her, promising to honour his duty of support for that child.

Goldson returned to 28A Potter's Row on July 15 and in the aftermath of his encounter with his children's mother that day, she ended up lying dead on the house floor with a 14-inch carving knife blade embedded in her heart. The handle was broken from the blade and the only visible indication of the blade seen by the medical examiner, Dr John Martin, was when the body of the deceased was turned over and the tip was felt beneath her skin at her back. Dr Martin subsequently gave testimony in court that he performed a post-mortem examination on the body on July 16, after it was identified by brother of the deceased Manley Brissett, and found a stab wound 14 inches in diameter between the clavicle and the first rib on the right side of the chest ... .

South African poet Motsei performs 'What about love?'

In commemoration of September as National Women's Month in South Africa, The South African High Commission in association with The Arts Foundation of Edna Manley College of Visual and Performing Arts jointly hosted a lyrical workshop entitled 'What About Love?'.

The event which took place on Thursday, September 6, at Edna Manley College Dance Studio Theatre, featured as its centrepiece renowned South African poet and author Mmatshilo Motsei.

Complemented by a string of talented musicians and an interpretive dance, Motsei presented a fusion of poetry, movement and storytelling with the heartbeat of drumming and the soulful sounds of the guitar and trumpet all blended synchronously to depict her story of love as a counter for separateness and violence.

The performance style used by Motsei developed an intimacy with her audience that not only blurs the lines between stage and audience but demolishes the metaphoric fourth wall. She recanted memories of happiness, such as the 55-year-long marriage of her two loving parents, and sadness, as she told of her personal experience of being raped at the age of six.

"What is your greatest fear? In other words, which prison have you locked yourself in?" Motsei asks her audience during her performance. She used a series of metaphors and intense imagery to provoke discussion among audience while describing the socio-political and environmental issues in South Africa.

By the end she had segued through three artistic interpretations of violence - violence against the self, violence against the other and violence against the environment.

She closed her profound set by reading passages from her book entitled Seeing Voices, Hearing Visions to the sounds of percussion and string as she danced her way from the stage to join her captivated audience.