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Will the Bar Association please speak?

Published:Monday | March 15, 2010 | 12:00 AM

 THE Editor, Sir:

Good, analytical articles on the extradition process and its legal ramifications are being placed before the public. Notable among these have been the contributions of Gordon Robinson, attorney-at-law, who, in his most recent article (Sunday Gleaner, March 14, Page A8), has actually done what few commentators have sought to do - take us step by step through the relevant sections of both the Extradition Treaty and Extradition Act.

He makes a very compelling case for the layman to wonder whether the distinguished minister of justice has, perhaps, not erred very seriously in the advice she has given her prime minister and Cabinet colleagues. I think the Jamaican Bar Association should consider rendering good public service by inviting select, eminent members of that body to prepare a position paper on the contending legal opinions, so as to enrich the public debate. I am suggesting that there are matters of law and procedure that can be debated publicly, without prejudice to either Christopher Coke, as a potential defendant before the courts or, for that matter, the judicial review being called for.

Bar association debate/review needed

The matter, however, goes beyond simply informing the public. If the United States (US) government resubmits a new request for extradition which circumvents the issue of wiretapping that our Government claims is tying its hands, the matter of the soundness of the minister of justice's position on that key issue may never be pronounced on by the courts. I think we need such a pronouncement and, in its absence, an opinion from the Bar Association would certainly aid our judgement, and, perhaps, the prime minister's, on the soundness of the advice given.

For, if the minister is vindicated in the position she has taken, then all fair-minded persons must laud her. If her judgment is found wanting then, given regard to the profound, wrenching turmoil our country, the Government and her party has been put through on the basis of her advice, it would be inconceivable that she not tender her resignation to the prime minister. If the US government should follow through and submit a new extradition request, our dilemma might then be that Mr Coke may well get his just desert, while the minister, by default, escapes hers.

I am, etc;


Stony Hill