PAULA’S COMEDY FAR FROM FUNNY

Recently, it came to pass that:

  • the DPP found the case of a policeman caught on video tape shooting an unarmed citizen to death too difficult to obtain any conviction whatsoever;
  • the same DPP refused to prosecute the cabinet for non-compliance of a Contractor General demand yet asked the cabinet to comply;
  • as if that wasn’t sufficiently oxymoronic, the DPP also advised the cabinet to seek a free opinion from a Judge; and, in international news,
  • a self-help Cardinal from Argentina, who utilized Muhammad Ali’s “rope-a-dope” tactics in the early voting, thereby became the world’s first Pope on a rope.

Regarding the alleged shooting by that very lucky policeman, I now understand that we employ pathologists and permit them to return to faraway homelands years before their cases can be brought to court.  Seriously?  It occurred to NOBODY that this embarrassment was likely?    Nobody kept track of these wandering pathologists?  Nobody insisted it be a term of their contracts that they return to testify as needed?  Whose fault is that?  Did the DPP exercise any foresight with a view to avoiding the eventual humiliation?  Can a murder trial really be derailed because a pathologist went home to Mommy?

Walk the streets at night
looking for someone.
Looking for someone
you’ll never find.

Whoa, darling, you might as well forget him
for he’s gone, he’s said his last goodbye..

I also understand that nobody else could say that the chap seen lying on the ground while being pumped full of lead had died. It seems the accused policeman’s Attorney’s no case submission was unanswerable because our Director of Public Prosecution couldn’t establish that a dead man was dead; that he died from gunshot wounds; and that a videotape of the entire episode ought to be received in evidence.

Well, blow me down.  What next? Will she be able to prove that a Ponzi Scheme was fraudulent? Or that, as has been widely reported without demur, a businessman offered a policeman $2,000 to avoid a traffic ticket?  Or that scammers call vulnerable senior citizens and extract money from them on the false pretence that they were lotto winners?

As a Jamaican citizen, I’m sick and tired of the DPP’s frequent, facile explanations for her office’s repeated failure to obtain or hold onto convictions in cases that appear to the common man to be open and shut.  This DPP has too many obstacles to success in her mind and, according to her public utterances, in the system within which she works.  She appears to me reluctant to be pro-active preferring to depend on the police to gather evidence for her against popular colleague policemen; co-accuseds to turn state evidence; or the system to offer her regular exculpatory opportunities.

Our Justice Minister seems to be pleased as Punch at his new Lotto Scam Act but I’ve some bad news for him.  Legislation never convicted a single criminal.  And lawyers who sit back and expect evidence to fall into or be placed on their laps usually lose more cases than they win.  Like every other lifetime endeavour, the practice of law, whether at the public or private bar, is a matter of strategy.  It begins with strategic thinking; continues through strategic planning; and ends with strategic action.

Why hasn’t the DPP found alternative ways to introduce the damning video in the absence of the person who made the film?  Why hasn’t a reward been offered for that person to come forward?  Cancel the carnival trips and use those savings to pay the reward.  Is it really acceptable that nobody knows who this cameraperson is or where he/she is?  Why isn’t some policeman or prosecutor facing at least a severe dressing down for this pathetic display of ineptitude?  Why such an apparently casual approach to such a serious case?

In any event, long before this and many other like matters come to trial why isn’t a strategy worked out between the police and the DPP to identify those cases in which evidence might be difficult to adduce with a view to using the inadmissible evidence in a strategic way to obtain a confession or a plea?

Why aren’t we using the wiretap law to catch Lotto scammers red handed (or red mouthed)? And then squeezing a confession or plea out of them before wasting court resources at trial where key U.S. witnesses mightn’t appear?  It happens everywhere else.  The Americans didn’t need a trial to convict Dudus.  Not one witness had to testify.  Why not us?  Is it that we’re too busy drawing boundaries of authority or responsibility to bother actually seeking results?

But the DPP’s approach to the asinine referral of the entire cabinet for prosecution for failing to kowtow to a former Contractor General’s dictates took the best comedy prize.  In an apparent effort to be bureaucratically diplomatic, the DPP found it impossible to limit her response to the obviously correct refusal to prosecute but volunteered her advice that the OCG should take the matter to court.  It took the DPP twenty-one pages to complete her circuit around Mulberry Bush and decline to prosecute although the “why” of her reticence wasn’t immediately apparent since, according to the Gleaner’s March 13 report, she found the cabinet to be non-compliant without justification.

In her extended “opinion”, she wrote “Office of the Cabinet has not complied with the requisitions of the OCG and further has not cited prejudice to the security or defence of Jamaica as its reason for not doing so.”  If that’s the sole issue, why not prosecute?  In responding to previous referrals, the DPP had been quick to defend her office as the sole authority in Jamaica to authorize such prosecution.  Why ask the OCG to do her work for her?

The reality is no court would entertain such a silly prosecution and the DPP ought to know this.  The cabinet has stated definitively that it awaits a ruling of the court in a matter already commenced regarding the OCG’s powers before considering this particular request and, on the face of it, that seems more than sufficient justification.  But it also complicates the national conundrum as I’m deeply disturbed at this new trend of government taking itself or its agencies to court to seek “judicial review” of this and that. It’s totally misconceived; an abuse of the court’s process; and unnecessary.

Government, Jamaica’s executive, runs the country and is subject to action by citizens if it can be established it exceeded its constitutional authority (e.g. infringing on a citizen’s constitutional rights).  The “judicial review” process, an invention of British Constitutional law for the Monarch’s protection of the subject (at the Monarch’s prerogative) against wrongful use of the Monarch’s delegated authority has little relevance in an independent country with a written constitution.  Certainly, it ought not to be available to a Jamaican government either against a citizen or against its own agencies.

Recently, I’ve noted legal embarrassments such as a DPP, a constitutional creature with only criminal law powers, commencing “judicial review” proceedings against a magistrate; and an Attorney General (on behalf of a Government Minister) commencing “judicial review” proceedings against a Statutory body.  These are abominations onto law and a slippery slope of ignorance that leads to farce.  Now, a D.P.P. seemingly intent on rebuilding relations instead of doing her job, “advises” an OCG (thus exceeding her constitutional authority) to seek a free opinion on the law from a Judge regarding the OCG’s complaint against the cabinet.  Where (and when) will this nonsense end?  Should the Prime Minister decide to make fiscal (or optical) savings by cutting cabinet, will she be subject to judicial review proceedings by Ministers adversely affected on the ground of financial bias?

I see the Roman Catholic Church is all a twitter that its new Pope has taken a first time name, Francis I.  But, if he wanted to reach out beyond Italian boundaries, he could’ve done so much better.  He could’ve encouraged Asian Catholics by taking the name Won Lung I.  He could’ve made a forceful statement against voter fraud by disgraced Cardinals and reached out to the Mafia by taking the name Baloney I.

Now that we have a Pope who took the bus to work instead of his assigned limousine; who cooks his own meals; and who knows that “soccer” is really football, maybe he’ll alter religious doctrine to rely on love instead of fear.

There’s a place in your heart
and I know that it is love.                                                                                          And this place could be much
brighter than tomorrow.
And if you really try
you’ll find there’s no need to cry.
In this place you’ll feel
there’s no hurt or sorrow

Maybe he’ll do something real about the disgusting abuse of young boys still being perpetrated in his Church.

Heal the world.
Make it a better place
for you and for me
and the entire human race.
There are people dying
if you care enough for the living.
Make a better place
for you and for me

He can start by removing the sect’s attractiveness to perverts by repealing the celibacy dogma.  Male perverts feel safe in an organization whose rules ensure they need never be seen romantically linked to a woman.  Check the records, Pope.  Did the ancient Monks say “celibate” or “celebrate”?  Maybe the calligrapher was also a doctor.

And the dream we were conceived in
will reveal a joyful face.
And the world we once believed in
will shine again in Grace….

Pope, face it.  The church is broken.  Brothers and sisters are leaving in droves.  For Christianity’s sake, fix it.  That ringing cell phone nearby is today’s version of Paul Revere calling to tell you “The Muslims are coming!  The Muslims are coming!!”  Heal the Church.  Heal the World.  Our future depends on it.  We’re depending on you.

Heal the world we live in, save it for our children
Heal the world we live in, save it for our children
Heal the world we live in, save it for our children
Heal the world we live in, save it for our children…

Praises be to Derrick Harriott and Michael Jackson for the glorious lyrics contained herein.

Peace and Love

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