Many Jamaican Lawyers Are Not Above Board, They Should Not Expect To Get Special Treatment When They Break The Laws…


This is the third Article in a row in which I am respond­ing to events in Jamaica which involves mem­bers of the Bar Association.

During the years I served in the (JCF) Jamaica Constabulary Force I became friends with sev­er­al decent and hard­work­ing mem­bers of the Legal Fraternity.
In fact a cou­ple of my good friends kind­ly assured me they would defend me “pro-bono” if ever I need­ed to be defend­ed legal­ly as a result of the pur­suits out my duties as a police offi­cer.
Those assur­ances will for­ev­er remain in my heart. The kind­ness and thought­ful­ness of those assur­ances still warms my heart even though I left law enforce­ment over two decades ago.

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Such was the extent of the friend­ships which devel­oped as a result of the mutu­al respect and admi­ra­tion we had for each oth­er from work­ing togeth­er though work­ing at dif­fer­ent ends of the spec­trum.
I also built rela­tion­ships with some mem­bers of the bench who are still serv­ing today and I am indeed proud of those asso­ci­a­tions as I fun­da­men­tal­ly believe those pro­fes­sion­als were of the high­est cal­iber and still remain so.
From my per­spec­tives oth­ers were sim­ple bul­lies who hid behind the clown cos­tumes and hurled abuse at those who could not defend them­selves.
Those abus­es con­tin­ue to this day and in many cas­es have increased expo­nen­tial­ly.

Over the years we have seen sit­u­a­tions in which mem­bers of the Legal fra­ter­ni­ty have brought the once proud and pris­tine fra­ter­ni­ty into seri­ous ques­tion. Some mem­bers can­not seem to avoid com­mit­ting lar­ce­ny as ser­vants, fraud­u­lent con­ver­sions, or mis­ap­pro­pri­at­ing their clien­t’s monies.
Every year as I have point­ed out in recent arti­cles sev­er­al are struck from the list of those allowed to prac­tice law on the Island.
The General legal Council pro­vides a detailed list which pro­vide the names of those so dis­barred . One must bear in mind that list includes only those bad lawyers who have been caught and found to have com­mit­ted seri­ous and egre­gious breach­es of their sacred trust.
Disbarred Attorneys

The same is true of the Police ser­vice in which I spent 10 of my for­ma­tive adult years.
As we seek to look at the behav­ior of some mem­bers of the Bar it is impor­tant to observe that Lawyers become Judges. No one goes to School to become a Judge.
Judges are appoint­ed from the pool of lawyers which prac­tices law both on the side of the Prosecution and the Defense.
Most Western Industrialized nations tend to pick their Judges from the Prosecution side, the same can­not be said for Jamaica.
This may or may not have some­thing to do with the per­cep­tion that it is almost impos­si­ble to gain con­vic­tions in Jamaica’s crim­i­nal courts, par­tic­u­lar­ly when the accused is con­nect­ed.

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I made the afore­men­tioned obser­va­tions against state­ments made by President of the bar Association of Jamaica Donovan Walker and an alleged Investigation which has been com­menced by Zaila McCalla the Island’s Chief Justice into an inci­dent in which an Attorney was arrest­ed at the Supreme Court in Kingston.
In his state­ment Walker said he spoke to the Commissioner of Police and the Minister of Justice about the arrest which he saw as prob­lem­at­ic .
Stating quote : “Arresting an offi­cer of the court with­in the precincts of the Supreme Court build­ing sends a bad sig­nal ‚the action may be seen as an act of con­tempt, the dig­ni­ty of the courts must be observed by all offi­cers of the court, includ­ing the police”.

This writer main­tains that the laws of the Country must be upheld and respect­ed indeed by every­one in the coun­try. In a Democracy no per­son is greater than the oth­er. As such the laws must be applied fair­ly and equi­tably across the board.
I fun­da­men­tal­ly believe there is no bet­ter place to arrest a per­son than in the very halls of jus­tice , if the Supreme Court does con­sid­er itself a hall of jus­tice as it once was.
The President of the Bar Association has from the report­ing been able to secure the com­mence­ment of an inves­ti­ga­tion into what is clear­ly a jus­ti­fi­able and prop­er arrest.
He argues that the arrest in the con­fines of the court could be viewed as con­temp­tu­ous with­out pro­vid­ing one iota of evi­dence in sup­port of that scur­rilous asser­tion.
The enforce­ment of Jamaican laws can­not be con­fined to the poor­est of the poor and the least con­nect­ed only, and it cer­tain­ly can­not be sub­ject to the whims of a gen­tri­fied Bureaucrat.

Supreme Court building

Supreme Court build­ing

The great­est imped­i­ment to our sys­tem of Justice is not where alleged crim­i­nals are arrest­ed it rests with the appli­ca­tion of the law. Most impor­tant­ly it rests with the per­cep­tion the pub­lic has of the peo­ple who are sworn to uphold those laws.
Judges, Attorneys and Police offi­cers have a duty to com­port them­selves in a dig­ni­fied man­ner.
Allegations of Police mis­con­duct is well doc­u­ment­ed based on their num­bers.
Instances of mis­con­duct by Lawyers are not as well know or ampli­fied, prob­a­bly because their num­bers are not as volu­mi­nous.
Judges engage in unlaw­ful con­duct how­ev­er their num­bers are sig­nif­i­cant­ly less than the num­ber of prac­tis­ing lawyers.
Juxtapose that with the fact that the high­er a per­son is posi­tioned in Jamaica the less like­ly he will ever be accused much less charged or con­vict­ed of a crime.

I will now intro­duce to you a let­ter which appeared in the Jamaica Daily Gleaner of Oct.22nd 2015 ..
This let­ter was writ­ten by one of the Country’s pre-emi­nent legal minds whom from his let­ter believes fun­da­men­tal­ly in the quote: world class qual­i­ty of the nation’s legal minds.

Lloyd Barnett, O.J., B.A., LL.B.(Hons.), LL.M., Ph.D.(London), of Lincoln's Inn, Barrister-at-Law, is a practising attorney in Jamaica

Lloyd Barnett, O.J., B.A., LL.B.(Hons.), LL.M., Ph.D.(London), of Lincoln’s Inn, Barrister-at-Law, is a prac­tis­ing attor­ney in Jamaica

In a let­ter to the Editor pub­lished on October 19, Glen George Wilson gives as a rea­son for keep­ing the Privy Council as our final Court of Appeal that the lawyers of the Caribbean will con­tin­ue to ben­e­fit from par­tic­i­pat­ing in delib­er­a­tions with oth­er world-class legal minds. The objec­tive of hav­ing Caribbean lawyers exposed to world-class legal minds will be more read­i­ly achieved by the accep­tance of the CCJ’s appel­late juris­dic­tion because at present only a very lim­it­ed num­ber of lawyers have the oppor­tu­ni­ty to appear in the Privy Council so as to have delib­er­a­tions with oth­er ‘world-class legal minds’. Since there are world-class legal minds with­in the Caribbean, the CCJ as an itin­er­ant and more acces­si­ble court would offer more and bet­ter oppor­tu­ni­ties for that par­tic­i­pa­tion.

Power To Legislate

The sec­ond rea­son Wilson gives is that the CCJ will use its pow­er to leg­is­late from the bench and so the vot­ers could be ignored. He has giv­en no basis for this sur­mise and there is no evi­dence in the CCJ’s 10 years of adju­di­ca­tion to sup­port it. But why does Williams feel that the CCJ would be more prone to leg­is­late from the bench than the Privy Council? Certainly, the CCJ will be in a bet­ter posi­tion to sense the will of ‘the vot­ers’ than the Privy Council, as Lord Hoffman, an emi­nent Law Lord and Privy Councillor advised us.

Lloyd G. Barnett .

This let­ter is a clas­sic demon­stra­tion of what we have sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly main­tained in this medi­um , that at the high­est lev­el in Jamaica it is all about self and not the long-term wel­fare and well­be­ing of the coun­try.
Of course Jamaica has no short­age of world ‑class legal minds that is nev­er in ques­tion.
Jamaicans are over­achiev­ers, what­ev­er we set our minds to we excel at it even when we seek to self-destruct.
That is not the issue, the issue is that bright legal minds like the Goodly Dr Lloyd Barnett is will­ing to cajole and coax our coun­try into get­ting rid of the Privy Council and replac­ing it with the CCJ.

It is clear from this let­ter that what’s upper­most and of para­mount impor­tance to the Author Dr Barnett as indeed many oth­ers is not the future of our nation and the rule of law but the pro­mo­tion and aggran­dize­ment of the legal fra­ter­ni­ty.
No Jamaican lawyer can rea­son­ably pick up the phone and call the Privy Council in England with a view to influ­enc­ing a rul­ing one way or the oth­er.
Can we say the same about the crim­i­nal Justice sys­tem in Jamaica?
if we dis­card the Privy Council will Jamaicans be able to say to them­selves they are com­fort­able that the process is untar­nished and with­out col­lu­sion?
Are Jamaicans con­fi­dent they are get­ting jus­tice at home when Prosecutors, Defense Lawyers and tri­al Judges were trained at the same law school, attend the same func­tions and are mem­bers of the same social clubs?
If Jamaicans believe they are get­ting untar­nished jus­tice I have a bridge I would like for them to con­sid­er pur­chas­ing.
These are just a few of the pow­er­ful voic­es lob­by­ing for the CCJ which ulti­mate­ly will be a grand old social club for the good old boys.
Jamaicans need to see this for what it is and eschew it.