Bias in ganja cases queried
(CNS): The North Side member has raised concerns about bias shown against a young Caymanian who will not be able to continue his studies because of a conviction for consuming ganja when another young man who, Ezzard Miller believes, has family connections to a leading law firm has escaped the same fate, despite also having a drug conviction. Although he has a 100% attendance and a 3.58 grade average, Anthony Berry (20) has been refused entry into the USA to begin his second semester at university as the authorities say he is permanently ineligible to enter because of a two year old drug related offence, which the Court of Appeal upheld last week.
Meanwhile, in September an un-named young man who had pleaded guilty to involvement in a scam over the Foster’s Food Fair Punch and Play Cards was also convicted of possession and consumption of ganja when he was arrested, but his conviction was not recorded.
Also an overseas student, in this case the young man’s attorney had asked the court to withhold the conviction against his client so it would not interfere with his ability to study. The magistrate ordered that the drug conviction not be recorded on the condition that no further offences occur for the next two years but the defendant was handed down a $200 fine.
In Berry’s case the Cayman Islands Court of Appeal said it was not able to assist him as it could not tell the United States authorities that he was not guilty of a controlled substance related offence as he had pleaded guilty. The three judges saw no way to provide him with a document he could use to persuade US authorities that the offence had not really happened and there had been no conviction.
Miller said he was disgusted that one young man’s future has been ruined because he does not have the connections while another’s has been saved, even when they had committed and pleaded to the same offence.
“I am appalled at how two young men can be treated so differently, with one remaining un-named by the courts and the conviction withheld while the second has his whole future in question because of the same conviction over cannabis,” he added.
Miller added that this kind of criminal record was haunting people throughout their lives, which was one of the reasons why he had brought a motion to the Legislative Assembly last year to free people from a lifetime of problems. Decades after being convicted over consumption of ganja, people were still not able to go to the States and it was even hampering their ability to get work locally, the independent MLA added.
“These criminal records haunt people all their lives but government has done nothing about the motion I brought to the Legislative Assembly to address this,” he said. “With overseas staff requiring a police clearance certificate, many employers extend that to local employees as well, and for those Caymanians who have these lingering convictions that may be decades old, they are now also finding it increasingly difficult to get work in their own country.”
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