Charge errant attorneys who help criminals

Monday, November 4, 2019 - 04:45

The Law As­so­ci­a­tion of T&T (LATT) says if Com­mis­sion­er of Po­lice Gary Grif­fith has ev­i­dence that at­tor­neys are as­sist­ing crim­i­nals in their ac­tiv­i­ties, he should “has­ten to lay charges against these er­rant at­tor­neys.”

“If there is any such ev­i­dence which the Com­mis­sion­er does not con­sid­er would sup­port a crim­i­nal charge, he should nev­er­the­less con­sid­er mak­ing that ev­i­dence avail­able to the Pres­i­dent of the Law As­so­ci­a­tion so that he might con­sid­er whether a dis­ci­pli­nary of­fence has been com­mit­ted and re­fer same to the Dis­ci­pli­nary Com­mit­tee for ac­tion,” LATT said in a state­ment

The As­so­ci­a­tion al­so of­fered ad­vice to Prime Min­is­ter Dr Kei­th Row­ley, who on pre­vi­ous oc­ca­sions crit­i­cised LATT for fail­ing to take any ac­tion against lawyers charged with crim­i­nal of­fences.

“The con­sti­tu­tion­al right to the pre­sump­tion of in­no­cence pre­cludes any such pre­cip­i­tate ac­tion. If, how­ev­er, the au­thor­i­ties are pre­pared to share with the As­so­ci­a­tion the ev­i­dence which is avail­able to sup­port dis­ci­pli­nary ac­tion, the Pres­i­dent would car­ry out his statu­to­ry du­ty to con­sid­er same.”

LATT said it is un­fair to re­peat­ed­ly ac­cuse anony­mous lawyers of crim­i­nal ac­tiv­i­ties with­out tak­ing any fol­low-up ac­tion and there­by to tar­nish the rep­u­ta­tion of those in­di­vid­ual lawyers who pro­vide their ser­vices hon­est­ly and with in­tegri­ty.

The As­so­ci­a­tion, com­ment­ing on the Com­mis­sion­er Grif­fith’s crit­i­cism of the re­cent de­ci­sion tak­en by a mag­is­trate to grant bail to some­one charged with pos­ses­sion of a num­ber of firearms, said: “ The Com­mis­sion­er en­joys the right of any cit­i­zen to crit­i­cise re­spect­ful­ly the de­ci­sion of any ju­di­cial of­fi­cer. How­ev­er, it is im­por­tant that the Com­mis­sion­er ap­pre­ci­ate and re­mind mem­bers of the pub­lic that, ex­cept in a few spe­cif­ic cas­es, there is no law which man­dates that bail be de­nied just be­cause of the se­ri­ous­ness of the of­fence, al­though that is a fac­tor which is tak­en in­to ac­count.

“To re­peat, every­one is en­ti­tled to be pre­sumed in­no­cent un­til proven guilty by a court of law. The fact that a charge has been laid by po­lice of­fi­cers who no doubt be­lieve fer­vent­ly in the strength of their case is no li­cence for a ju­di­cial of­fi­cer as­sum­ing that the al­le­ga­tion is true. This is why the Con­sti­tu­tion pro­vides for a right to be grant­ed bail, which can on­ly be de­nied un­der the spe­cif­ic cir­cum­stances set out in the Bail Act and more gen­er­al­ly if the po­lice pro­vide ev­i­dence to the court that the ac­cused is like­ly not to turn up for the tri­al or is like­ly to com­mit an­oth­er of­fence while on bail or is like­ly to in­ter­fere with wit­ness­es in the case.”

LATT added: “The Com­mis­sion­er is free to crit­i­cise a ju­di­cial of­fi­cer who grants bail de­spite ev­i­dence which es­tab­lish­es any one of these fac­tors. It is, how­ev­er, an un­fair crit­i­cism to point sim­ply to the se­ri­ous­ness of the of­fence as the sole ba­sis for the re­peat­ed den­i­gra­tion of the ju­di­cial of­fi­cer.”