Sat | May 27, 2023

Justice for whom? Rich or poor?

Published:Sunday | June 8, 2014 | 12:00 AM

Ronald Mason

The divisions in Jamaica are to be found in many areas. They range from the very bottom of the scale in terms of seriousness up to the political party division ranking near the top. It is more threatening to our society than the persistent claim by large numbers of citizens that there is one law for the rich and another for the poor.

The rule of law is the foundation on which democracy is built. There must be certainty that the admonition by the "Americans" that all men are created equal is, in fact, true. The failure to make this our daily reality is troubling.

Talk radio is laced with passionate views that there are two applications of the laws. The rich and very well connected are rarely even charged for offences, and they are hardly ever convicted. It is of little comfort when one attempts to illustrate the inherent equality of our judicial system. The sceptics will reply that those of us who operate in the judicial system must say that to justify our participation within the halls of justice.

With this belief, here comes a matter that is not dealt with in the acceptable manner, and those who have created the alternatives are all mealy-mouthed in defence of their action. Further investigations reveal that the very rich are to be found at the centre of the matter.


Let us seek some answers, though one shouldn't hold one's breath while awaiting answers. The pattern is clear: those with the answers will not be forthright. Why was the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), with its resources and structure made to be relegated to the dictates of rich persons in this matter? The Fraud Squad was bypassed in the investigation of the complainant. The officer who did the investigation went overseas, under the sponsorship of complainant, in the furtherance of this case. He went abroad to meet with an 'expert' witness and in so doing bypassed the similar expert at his disposal in the JCF.

Remember, the expert in the JCF featured prominently in the just-completed trial of dancehall persona recently convicted. He was engaged on the matter of the letter allegedly written by the chief prosecution witness to the Office of the Public Defender. He was strangely absent in this matter. Who paid for the senior police officer to travel abroad? The JCF did not. Are our police officers now on the payroll of the rich?

Why was the prosecution of this matter left to the clerk of the courts even when it was in the Resident Magistrate's Court? This deniability for the director of public prosecutions, who has the awesome authority to intervene in any criminal matter in this country. The DPP did intervene and issued a fiat to a team of attorneys who are not affiliated with either the DPP or the clerk of the courts to handle this case. All perfectly legal, but it struggles to pass the smell test.

The attorneys who prosecuted are all honourable in their individual capacities, but what led to the grouping of them, all four, to prosecute. Let us examine the fact that the prosecution presented its case in chief without the evidence from the main complainant. The absence of the complainant from the court and its precincts suggests that the trial was radioactive.

The Fraud Squad was absent from the proceedings in which persons were criminally charged with fraud. Who made that decision to bypass the Fraud Squad? This fails the smell test.

The DNA, fingerprints and paper trail of the rich man are all over this case. It was left to the magistrate to save the integrity of the judicial system. Fortunately, this time, the magistrate set forth her reasons for the ruling to stop the matter, and she had the authority, the unfettered authority, to do the right thing. Thank God.

Now we need to have an investigation of the following bodies: The JCF, the Clerk of the Courts for the Half-Way Tree Criminal Court and the DPP. Let the sun shine on the true nature of this case. There must be no judgement for the rich and a different one for the poor.

There is an urgent need for public education on the legal system under which we operate.

The unfounded unsubstantiated assertion about the judiciary is troubling. There are allegations of attorneys shopping for the judge of their choice. The public does not understand how a Judge comes to preside in a matter. The public does not understand the need for, and use of, in-chamber hearings. What are they cooking up? The public does not understand the large variation in sentencing handed down. Let us as a country determine to strengthen the rule of law, educate our citizens on how it works, and the equality available to all.

Ronald Mason is an immigration attorney/Supreme Court mediator, and talk-show