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DPP locks horns with judge in Kern case

Published:Wednesday | April 21, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Livern Barrett, Gleaner Writer

Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Paula Llewellyn defiantly refused yesterday to give a statement about a meeting she had with former accused-turned star witness Rodney Chin, triggering fireworks at the corruption trial of former junior minister Kern Spencer.

Obviously peeved at Llewellyn's decision, Senior Resident Magistrate Judith Pusey warned that "obstruction of justice is very wide" in one of several testy exchanges between the two.

With Pusey insisting that the DPP comply with her ruling last week and provide the defence with a statement and Llewellyn refusing to budge, the case was adjourned until May 3.

A serious matter

Llewellyn told The Gleaner afterwards that the adjournment would give her time "to advise myself on our position" which, she added, had ramifications for other cases.

In court, the senior resident magistrate said, "It is a very serious matter, which is why I am prepared to be so indulgent.

"I don't want when anything happen later down the road, people say they never had enough time," she added.

The DPP countered that in 25 years of practising law she had never seen, "in any circumstances", where prosecutors were asked to write a witness statement.

She described the move as a "fishing expedition" by the defence "in the hopes of catching a defence".

Unfair trial

At the centre of the issue is a ruling by Pusey last week that defence attorneys be given notes which Chin testified that Llewellyn took when she met with him and his attorneys in September 2008.

Insisting that she did not take any notes during the meeting, the DPP told the court yesterday that defence attorneys were given a letter on Monday with a detailed account of "what I can recall, given the passage of time".

The letter was not sufficient for defence attorney K.D. Knight, the lead attorney for the co-accused Coleen Wright, who told Pusey that the defence wanted a statement because Llewellyn was a potential witness in the case.

Defence attorney Patrick Atkinson, who is the lead attorney for Spencer, said his client could not get a fair trial because of the conduct of the prosecution.

In her defence, Llewellyn said the defence was given a letter because Pusey's ruling did not give any specific way in which she should respond.

However, when she told the court that nothing Chin said in the 2008 meeting was "outside the four corners of what he told police investigators", Pusey interrupted.

"You seem to be recalling more than you are saying. It's like just an attempt by you to circumvent the ruling that I made," Pusey said.

"I have fulfilled and discharged my duties," Llewellyn insisted in one of the exchanges between them.

When Llewellyn made it clear that she would not be giving a statement, this drew the ire of the senior resident magistrate.

"You are telling me that whatever this court decides, you are not going to do it?" asked Pusey, before admonishing the DPP about impertinence.