Lightbourne wavers at Manatt enquiry
Gary Spaulding Senior Gleaner Writer
Justice Minister and Attorney General Dorothy Lightbourne capitulated to intense pressure at the Manatt-Dudus commission of enquiry, as she wavered on claims she made that Deputy Director of Public Prosecution Jeremy Taylor fouled up on advice he tendered to US authorities.
However, the Justice Minister adamantly refused to withdraw her charge that Taylor had tendered bad advice to US authorities on the extradition request for Christopher “Dudus” Coke.
Lightbourne’s subdued attitude was in stark contrast to her defiant stance when she declared that Taylor acted amiss in the pursuit of his duties.
“You have made serious judgment, very serious judgment against Mr. Taylor,” said Lord Anthony Gifford, the attorney representing the office of Director of Public Prosecution (DPP).
“I am suggesting to you that it (the option of formal extradition request) was the only advice that he could give under these circumstances,” Gifford said.
The Justice Mnister has maintained that Taylor should have advised the US to send a provisional warrant instead of a formal extradition request to Jamaica.
She had suggested under cross-examination from KD Knight, the attorney for the People’s National Party, that it was this decision and not her refusal to sign the extradition request, that led to the deaths of 73 persons in West Kingston in May 2010.
“I ask you to withdraw that suggestion…” Gifford said.
“I can’t withdraw the suggestion…” said Lightbourne.
“Is the advice lawful or unlawful…?" Gifford asked.
“I cannot say…”Lightbourne responded.
“Well please withdraw the allegations…” Gifford said.
“People were knocking at my door…so there was an issue of urgency,” Lightbourne said.
“If Mr. Taylor had suggested a provisional warrant, that could have left with you with little or no time to sign the authority to proceed,” declared Gifford.
“Yes, but I was looking at the issue of urgency,” said Lightbourne.
“I suggest to you that that the advice given by Mr. Taylor was correct,” Gifford insisted.
An obviously tiring Lightbourne who has been in the witness seat for eight days mumbled: “I don’t know…”
Lightbourne had been contending that a provisional order was the best option for the US.
A provisional order would have landed “Dudus” in jail and given the US of up to 60 days to prepare a formal request.
“It would not be a happy situation if a dangerous criminal is locked up for 60 days and then has to be released because you had not received the authenticated documents,” suggested Gifford.
In challenging the use of a provisional warrant to nab Coke, Gifford suggested that the process would have been more oppressive for the suspect.
Lightbourne admitted that Coke would not have been privy to the evidence against him.
“Is it not more oppressive when the provisional procedure is used than the
normal extradition procedures?” queried Gifford.
“Yes, but it is used in cases of urgency,” responded Lightbourne.
Gifford suggested that the case could not be considered urgent if Coke was a flight risk, or a psychopath.
However, Lightbourne argued that the issue of urgency could be considered as Coke had the capacity to organise and resist arrest.
“In May 2009, when the advice was given there was no reason to consider the matter urgent,” stressed Gifford.
Lightbourne’s competence in her interpretation of criminal law also came under scrutiny at the enquiry.
She conceded that there was nothing wrong with Taylor giving the US the advice it had solicited in the lead-up to the extradition request.
Earlier, Lightbourne insisted that it was her understanding that the DPP takes on the responsibility of legal representatives for the US after that country dispatches the extradition request to Jamaica.
She said while she was not certain if this practice was correct, it was one she had inherited when she assumed portfolio responsibility for justice.
Asked by Gifford, what the US authorities should do if they needed advice before submitting the extradition request, Lightbourne countered that they could solicit private legal assistance.
Taylor had been approached by the US before the extradition documents had reached Jamaica for advice.
The Deputy DPP had advised the US to dispatch a formal extradition request.
The Justice Minister has accused Taylor of giving the US authorities bad legal advice when he told them to opt for a formal extradition request instead of a provisional order.
“I am suggesting to you that there was nothing objectionable for Taylor to give advice on behalf of the DPP,” asserted Gifford.
“I did not say anything was wrong,” responded Lightbourne.