Editorial

A DPP to celebrate, even if 'the law is a ass'

Thursday, April 03, 2014    

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TOO often, in the heat of battle, we lose sight of the war, and all too frequently, we win the battle but lose the war.

Last week in this space we agreed with Charles Dickens' Mr Bumble that "the law is a ass, a idiot" when we empathised with those who mourned what seemed like a Pyrrhic victory in the Kern Spencer Cuban light bulb case.

Mr Spencer and co-accused Ms Coleen Wright were freed by Senior Magistrate Judith Pusey, but the backlash by an incredulous public would have taken the joy out of that victory.

But even though we argued in that editorial that we are a nation of laws and not of men, and suggested that judicial verdicts have to be accepted, unpalatable though they might be, we did not emphasise enough how fundamental the law is.

A great victory was won for our advancing democracy as borne out by the debate that followed Ms Pusey's no-case ruling — which is arguably more important than the ruling itself, as happy as that would have made Mr Spencer and Ms Wright.

People on both sides of the debate expressed their opposing points of view without the kind of violence we see and hear of in other lands.

The same point could be made in respect of the recent guilty verdict in the Vybz Kartel case, notwithstanding the foolish threats reported in the media that led to precautionary beefing up of security around some of the parties.

But there were no street demonstrations, no blocking of roads, no burning of tyres or harm being done to anyone. We have seen this happen elsewhere in such circumstances, not the least of which was the Rodney King riots in the United States, following the freeing of cops accused of beating the African-American.

We are particularly taken by the fact that the Director of Public Prosecutions, Ms Paula Llewellyn felt free to articulate both the joy of the Kartel verdict and the disappointment of the Kern Spencer ruling. On both occasions she firmly rested her comments in law, as we should expect from a DPP. And for which we joyously celebrate her.

The truth is that we don't hear enough from the state actors in law when there are controversies for which their clarification would be of great help to the public.

The Pusey-Llewellyn High Court hearing, which ended in favour of the DPP, is a case in point. Should Ms Pusey not have recused herself, or be asked to recuse herself from the Kern Spencer trial thereafter, in the interest of justice being not only done but being manifestly seen to be done? Perhaps this is something our chief justice would wish to clarify for us.

Still, for all that we might say, in this country we largely resolve our major disputes by law and that, too, we must cherish and celebrate.

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