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LETTER OF THE DAY - Jamaican judges not accountable

Published:Saturday | October 18, 2014 | 10:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:I read with interest your editorial titled 'Justice kicked in the gut' (October 16, 2014) and I share your concerns about the people's lack of confidence in the criminal justice system, which is persistently undermined by a lack of resources to administer justice in a fair and timely fashion.

You mentioned recent developments in the criminal court proceedings concerning the murder of Kemar Walters and Oliver Duncan.

In January 2014, when the verdicts were finally delivered, the families of Kemar and Oliver received their first hefty kick in the gut. You stated in your editorial that Mr Justice Horace Marsh ordered a retrial for both Corporal Louis Lynch and Constable Paul Edwards because there was a hung jury. This is incorrect. Indeed, the jury could not make a decision in relation to Corporal Lynch, but found Constable Edwards guilty of murder by a majority verdict of 9-3.

The Jury Act was amended in 2010 to allow majority verdicts in cases of non-capital murder. Unless Mr Justice Marsh has another explanation, he made an error that can only be described as a huge miscarriage of justice by discharging the jury and ordering both men to face a retrial when one of them had actually been convicted.

To date, no word of explanation or apology has been given to the families for this blunder. Apparently, judges are not accountable for their decisions even when they may have been blatantly wrong.

The fact that the director of public prosecutions has entered a nolle prosequi in this matter on the grounds of the prohibitive cost of a retrial has effectively inflicted a second kick in the gut for the families of Kemar Walters, Oliver Duncan and everyone else who hopes that, in every case, justice will be seen to be done.

MARK SHIELDS

Former Deputy

Commissioner of Police