Yesterday I brought to your attention the issue of a juror hearing the murder case against Adidja Palmer o/c Vybz Kartel dance-hall dj visiting a defense lawyer employed to Palmer.http://chatt-a-box.com/mywpblog/?p=6093. I wrote an article on the story because I was shocked at the definitive way the trial judge Lennox Campbell sought to brush the issue aside seemingly impatient, wanting to move on. I wrote about it because the fidelity of the justice system is of paramount importance, if Jamaica’s fledgling democracy is to survive. I was also shocked that there did not seem to be any other voices of dissent on the issue. I thought it was important that the juror, in fact the entire jury be dismissed from hearing the case, even if the strident declaration of Lennox Campbell was verifiable true. The judge had this to say about the juror’s visit. Quote:”We are firmly of the view that what transpired was an innocent interaction. It is most unlikely to affect what we are going on with,” .
How can a judge understand how the process of justice is supposed to work and make such a statement in light of those developments? How can he make those statements particularly when the reason for the visit was not made public? One of the corner-stones of any justice system is the belief, that justice must not only be done it must also seem to be done. I pointed to this yesterday. Jamaica’s criminal justice system is in crisis. Dirty cops, incompetent prosecutors, lack of resources. Defense lawyers who are nothing more than Consiglieres to their criminal clients. Judges who supplant decorum and precedent with their own views, and a complete break-down in the system which feeds the Don culture.
Today however, others are lending their voice to this issue, the Jamaica Observer reports :Some legal experts have said that the juror or the entire panel of 12 jurors should have been dismissed and the case, which started in November, restarted. This, according to the experts, should have been done in order to dispel any perception of under-handedness that may be in the mind of the public and to protect the integrity of the justice system. According to them, had it been any other jurisdiction the panel would have been dismissed, even if it was found that nothing wrong had taken place.http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Judge-says-visit-of–Kartel-juror–to-lawyer-s-office-innocent-_15748954
I am heartened that there are people who understand the importance of judicial fidelity and it’s importance, in this existential struggle in which our country is engaged. I will once again use this medium to call for judicial reform as we work toward a better way forward for Jamaica.