Ms Paula Llewellyn’s certain legacy

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

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Lord Chief Justice Hewart’s comment in a far-reaching 1923 case that "…a long line of cases shows that it is not merely of some importance, but is of fundamental importance that justice should not only be done, but should manifestly and undoubtedly be seen to be done" has been given life in Jamaica.


Last week, legal history was created when the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) launched Jamaica’s first Manual for Prosecutors, henceforth providing a tool to enhance, if not ensure, objectivity, fairness, transparency, and consistency in the exercise of their prosecutorial discretion.


This is indeed an exciting development and prosecutors, we think, will long sing the praises of DPP Paula Llewellyn whose vision and determination was rewarded after two years working to bring the manual into being.


No one doubts that prosecutors possess significant discretion in the criminal justice system, and such a manual, Ms Llewellyn says, " is meant to support the Jamaican prosecution service in meeting its goals".


The manual is a compilation of directives and guidelines that provide clear instruction and guidance to Jamaican prosecutors, whether they are employees of the ODPP, clerks of the Resident Magistrate’s Courts, or private sector agents who might be retained by the DPP to conduct a given prosecution. In other words, the manual is expected to be consulted and adhered to by all prosecutors.


"In applying the manual to the case before them, prosecutors make decisions without fear of political interference or improper or undue influence…They are, however, accountable to the DPP, the Parliament through the minister of justice, and ultimately, the Jamaican public for the way in which they have discharged this crucial responsibility," the DPP said.


"As such, the manual can be viewed as a tool, which prosecution service managers might use to ensure the proper and consistent application of prosecutorial standards."


We in this space have an obvious and vested interest in chapter 15 of the manual which deals with relations between prosecutors and the media. We note that the manual upholds the principle that public confidence in the administration of justice depends on access to full and accurate information on court proceedings and that "the media play a central role in this exercise…"


"By providing appropriate and accurate information to the media, prosecutors give citizens an opportunity to become informed about the justice system and correct misunderstandings that can undermine public confidence…


We join with Ms Llewellyn in thanking the other parties without whom the manual could not be a reality: the Department of Justice Canada; the Public Prosecution Service of Canada; Global Affairs Canada (formerly the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada); the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP); the United Kingdom’s Crown Prosecution Service; the British High Commission; and, of course, the Ministry of Justice.


Jamaica owes them all a profound debt of gratitude.

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