Horace Fisher, Gleaner Writer
MAY PEN, Clarendon:
IMMEDIATE PAST president of the Lay Magistrates' Association of Jamaica (LMAJ), Calvin Lyn, last week warned justices of the peace (JPs) that they will be dismissed if they bring the office of the lay magistrates into disrepute.
Lyn, who was speaking at the annual general meeting of the Clarendon chapter of the LMAJ, urged JPs to watch other members in an effort to protect the integrity of the association.
"There are too many reported cases of JPs who are bringing the office of the lay magistrates into disrepute. I am urging you to uphold the integrity of the association in Clarendon, and never behave like the Jamaican police, and I have no apology for this," declared Lyn.
He added: "The custos of the parish can dismiss any one of you, without even referring the matter to King's House. It happened in Mandeville about three years ago, when I had a gentleman arrested and dismissed for charging a fee to sign documents," Lyn said.
Protect citizens' rights
Meanwhile, guest speaker Shawn Wilkinson also urged the parish's JPs to advocate and not to be the police's rubber stamp to sign warrants and other state documents that may violate citizens' rights.
"Please, ask for statements or evidence to support such request, because sometimes the police have personal vendettas against individuals," said Wilkinson, an attorney-at-law.
Wilkinson, while lauding the Clarendon Lay Magistrate chapter, said there is a strong perception that the dispensation of justice in Jamaica is a purview of the rich, and pointed out that lay magistrates are at a vantage point to dispel such perceptions.
"Even the Bible warned us about the equitable dispensation of justice, especially for the less fortunate in the society. Justices ,you are in a position to be justice advocates. Pay keen attention to what is taking place at the lock-ups, ascertain if there are minors locked up with adults, and check to see that there aren't any other violations of citizens' right," she urged.
The eight-member Cloverlin Smith-Morris-led executive was returned to serve another year, except for treasurer Pauline Fearon, who voluntarily stepped down.
Smith-Morris, in her acceptance speech thanked the executive and other justices for their support in 2011, while simultaneously calling for greater support in 2012.