Let’s have a conversation. At the end of the exchange, I will total up the calls and emails I get, and publish the results for and against. I have given my home address, email address, and mobile and land line numbers in some of my columns based on what I argued in those articles. Here are my personal details again.
Home – 47 Area Q, Turkeyen. Email- [email protected] com. Cell – 614-5927. Landline – 222-1615/222-1616. Let’s start the conversation. Contact me and answer yes or no to the following question.
Two female Jamaican teenagers organized to have their father killed in his Toronto home. The elder of the two girls lured the father into the kitchen where her boyfriend axed him several times. The younger teenager was part of the complicity. The boyfriend arranged for his pal to transport the body where it was simply dumped on the roadside like a dead snake that the village boys battered to death.
Three are charged for murder; the transporter with accessory to murder. The boyfriend pleads guilty. He gets 12 years. The transporter does the same and gets two. The Jamaican government then negotiates with the Canadian DPP to drop the charges so they can take the teens back to Jamaica to have them taken care of. Canada agrees. The Canadians inform the press that since the two men admitted to the killing there was no need to proceed with the murder charge against each teen.
Here is my question. Do you think Canada would have said yes to Jamaica, you can take the teenagers? Here is another question. Transfer the exact circumstances to the US where the teenagers are Guyanese. Do you think the district attorney for the particular state where the crime was committed would have agreed to the request of the Guyana Government? I will publish the yes versus no results.
This crime drama presents a tantalizing curiosity. The DPP was within her legal rights to discontinue the case against the teenagers but can the DPP do whatever she wants even if the dimensions of her decision have troubling implications for the social fabric of Guyana? My curiosity takes me back 30 years ago to Judge Barnwell versus Chief Magistrate Claudette La Bennett.
The magistrate accused the judge of interference in a case before her. The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) wrote President Hoyte, who initiated an inquiry. Barnwell was removed based on the recommendation of the inquiry. From that case, it seems to me that a complaint has to be lodged with the JSC.
But here is where my confusion comes in. In the Barnwell situation the complainant was a high judicial officer and the JSC acted. Will the JSC act if a member of the public alleges that a judicial officer committed a legal impropriety? The DPP has the status of a judge and I am assuming that she is subject to the same disciplinary procedures that apply to our judges.
It was this state of confusion that deterred me from asking the JSC to investigate Chief Magistrate, Ann McLennan, when she fined a woman instead of jailing her for conviction of trafficking in person. A guilty verdict carries a prison term.
When Chancellor Carl Singh was head of the JSC, I wrote that body asking for an inquiry into the conduct of Magistrate Judy Latchman who denied bail to an accused even though the prosecution had said in open court that she was the wrong person charged.
For me this was blurring the vital priceless distinction between a prosecutor who has a natural bias and a judge who legally is neutral. One day, out of the blues, I received a letter from Chancellor Singh that stated that there is no impropriety by the magistrate thus, no reason for the JSC to inquire.
That decision changed my attitude to any willingness I had to make complaints against judicial officers to the JSC.
Since Barnwell versus La Bennett, I know of no JSC action against a sitting judge. It begs the question under what circumstances can you make a formal complaint against the DPP. I know from the reporting of this newspaper the DPP’s explanation that proceedings against the two teenagers were discontinued because of the guilty plea by the two men. And I know the DPP had the water-tight authority to discontinue a criminal matter in the court.
What I am unclear about is if an abuse of authority takes place (I am not saying this happened), what redress the lay person has. Could the dead man’s relative file a complaint against the DPP?
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