Miller questions performance of DPP

| 25/06/2015 | 13 Comments
Cayman News Service

Cheryll Richards QC, Director of Public Prosecutions

(CNS): The independent member for North Side says the time has come to take a look at the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, as he questioned the performance of the country’s public prosecutor. Speaking to CNS Tuesday, Ezzard Miller said he was disappointed that his fellow legislators voted to approve the ODPP’s 2015/16 budget in block during Finance Committee without questioning the director of public prosecutions (DPP) about what appear to be numerous shortcomings.

Miller said that as a result of a communications mix-up in the LA during the Finance Committee proceedings last week, DPP Cheryll Richards QC escaped any kind of scrutiny over her more than $3 million appropriation.

The MLA said he had hoped to question the DPP because he and, he believed, the broader public had real concerns about the success rate in the courts and the poor overall management of criminal cases.

“Questions must be asked about the performance of the lawyers in the office and the management,” he said, pointing to the frequent reports of problems in the press relating to cases going through the courts, the criticisms of the prosecutors and the failure to secure convictions.

Miller said government needed to examine the office and question whether the calibre of lawyers being recruited was up to standard or whether the problem was in management, as he said it appeared as though “defence attorneys are running rings around” crown counsel.

“It seems as though government’s prosecutors are being out prepared by opposing counsel in far too many cases,” he told CNS, as he asked for answers from the recent review that was conducted by a representative from the UK’s Crown Prosecution Service.

“We bring in consultants and experts to look at these things but never follow through on the recommendations,” he added, as he called on government to do something about the situation regarding what he said is evidently, at present, a substandard prosecution office.

Criticism of the local prosecutors is not uncommon, and earlier this week a local magistrate berated several crown lawyers over their standard of preparation. Magistrate Valdis Foldats said the court spent too much time correcting the lawyers on poorly drafted charge sheets and indictments that were missing basic information, even things like the location of alleged crimes, and where the wrong revision or sections of laws were cited. He noted that issues such as this were happening frequently.

Nor is Foldats the first member of the local bench to question the work of prosecutors. While judges do point out the shortcomings of defence attorneys at times, it is the prosecuting lawyers that are more frequently the subject of judicial criticism.

The crown is also often the party behind frequent adjournments of cases in a packed court docket. Often the failure to check if witnesses are available until the morning of trial or the quality of evidence leads to adjournments and case dismissals. Disclosure processes, a lack of communication between the ODPP and the police, as well as poor case management by prosecutors, have resulted in prolonged delays and lost cases.

The DPP’s office is also a frequent source of complaint by defence attorneys, who repeatedly call upon the judges to make court orders to help them get the paperwork they need from the crown to defend their clients.

Earlier this year Claire Wetton, a prosecutor from the UK’s Crown Prosecution Service, came to examine the weaknesses in the local criminal justice system. During a 12 week attachment, which began in January, Wetton was tasked with looking at case management and trial issues in the Summary Court, reviewing the Criminal Procedure Code rules, disclosure and witness care.

CNS has contacted the home affairs ministry about when Wetton’s report will be published and made public.

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Category: Courts, Crime

Comments (13)

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  1. Wire Wiss says:

    What you talkin bout willis?

  2. Get Serious! says:

    Honestly, with the seriousness of this topic these are the silly comments that are posted? Let’s elevate the discussion pls so that we raise enough noise to encourage change. I remember once being in court and was gob smacked when the DEFENSE team had to pass the name of the CROWN’S witness to the prosecuting attorney. It was completely humiliating!! They are in completely over their head. Unfortunately, this is one area where we definitely look third world. The other area as well is the Atty General what he is really doing? I haven’t seen or heard much out of him in years. The legal system is in a serious need of a major overhaul. Traffic court is a nightmare – one embarrassing, unorganized mess of incompetence.

  3. Rubbish again says:

    Yeah lets get the review before its redacted or better yet shelved for years. CJ Smellie, how can you allow this to happen year after year? Dep Gov. Franz is this poorly performing department part of your remit for succession planning? No! Why not? Awww, so sorry you are afraid to tackle the Jamaican Judiciary dept. Bwoy, we in some serious do do. We are so passive as a people we don’t even have testicles when we are suppose to.

  4. Wonderer says:

    Is there anyone in our government who’s doing a good job?

  5. Anonymous says:

    Having once been interviewed by the now DPP while a Crown witness in a trial a few years ago I for once actually share Ezzard’s concerns. It would be grossly unfair of me to post details of our conversation back then but it did leave me wondering what the XXXX was going on in her head.

  6. People For An Ezzard Free L.A. says:

    Everyone else questions performance of Miller.

    • WaYaSay says:

      Anon 2:21. You Sir/Madam are an idiot. You add nothing to the debate on hand.
      Your constant unfounded attacks on Mr. Miller are becoming really stale. Your wining sound foolish in view of the fact that Mr. Miller has been the clarion voice in questioning how we spend $3/4 BILLION each year. You may not care but the rest of Cayman does.

      Ezzard has obviously stepped on your tender toes sometime in the past, I only wish he had stepped in your mouth, or at least your precious little typing fingers.

      You are never going to remove him by anonymously posting on CNS. Why don’t you move to North Side and vote him out if you feel so strongly about him being in the LA. Better yet, why not stay where you are and declare and run against him in the next election………..that way everyone in Cayman can know who your stupid ass is……..and the North Siders can vote against you.

      I am not personally an Ezzard voter, I do not live in North Side, however, if there was a National vote, he would get mine, especially if he continues to call out Government entities that appear to be wasting millions of dollars!

      If you really gave a damn about Cayman, you would swallow your pride, and thank Mr. Miller for voicing his disappointment about the fact that he did not get the chance in Finance Committee, to voice the concerns that every Judge in this country are decrying in our courts.

      Perhaps you are one of those court defendants, that are really happy about the lack of performance within the DPP……….Myself however, as a law abiding Caymanian, am sick and tired of seeing people charged with murder, theft, bodily harm, wife beating etc. walking away from their charges because of sloppy work by the DPP and the Police. Don’t take my word for it…..ask any Judge in George Town!

      • Anonymous says:

        It’s all about the stuff washing up on the beaches, no trouble. Seriously, can not every citizen wonder why this madness is happening over and over again? Joey is not the only crackhead on island! Please think again about the lunacy in the courts, the RCIPS and the civil service. It can’t all be genetic. Caymanians aren’t all just stupid followers of their tribes leaders. The tribe has lost its’ head.

      • Anonymous says:

        That would be your fellow countrymen walking free because no one will say what happened. How can you prosecute against a climate of changing witnesses statements and intimidation. Ask any judge in George Town.

      • Anonymous says:

        9.09, wow, Ezzard managed to sell you his kool aid? There’s always one. Pretty much everyone else just see a populist scandalmonger, however I will give him that he asked the right question here. And now let’s guess what will happen? Today is Friday, so there is a “y” in the day, we are in Cayman, so nothing will happen! Surprise!

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