Not all cases (and lawyers) are equal

Not all cases (and lawyers) are equal

Wednesday, August 05, 2020

Print this page Email A Friend!

Dear Editor,

The recent decision by the Supreme Court, Virgo et al v The Attorney General [2020] JMFC Full 6, highlights the fact that all lawyers are not equal.

I believe it was a matter that could have easily been settled out of court had the primary motivation really been the best interests of the child. Instead, litigation was pursued, and counsel did a right awful job representing his clients before the court and media, and proving his appreciation of the law.

I am sure law students, and young counsel, for years to come will be reading this judgement as a lesson in case preparation and alternative dispute resolution. The courts aren't always the best avenue for just remedies — that's taught at law school. The job of an attorney is to solve problems; not be one.

Having established that all lawyers aren't equal, I think it fit to remind the public that all cases aren't equal either in respect of their long-term impact and significance. From time to time people with ulterior motives and agendas present particular circumstances to the courts with the intention of establishing particular precedents that pave the way for others — not solving the surface issue which is readily seen. This case, I submit, is an example of same; albeit a very poor one.

Counsel for the claimant, instead of pleading specifically the matters in issue, sought a very broad ruling from the court regarding the right to freedom of expression, seeking an unfettered right to self-identity expression which should not be restricted or questioned by institutions, nor justified by the right holder. Counsel, who cited foreign case law regarding gender identity expression (for example a biological male transitioning to a female identity within a regulated space, and the concomitant obligation of the respective institution to affirm and support this type of self-expression), whether intentionally or not, set about to test the constitutional limits of the right to freedom of expression.

The claimants themselves may have unknowingly been mere pawns in a larger game. Precedent would be set and other things would follow. Similar to what occurred in Belize with the Caleb Orozco case, there is a concerted effort of proponents of the LGBT agenda regionally to carefully erode the rights under our constitution to make them read a narrative advancing a particular set of foreign values.

The court was right to allude to the proverbial floodgates which could have been opened as a result of the case, and correctly limited its decision to the actual issues in dispute, thus rightly referring the matter to the executive branch of government for guidelines to be issued clarifying/further limiting the discretion given to schools related to deportment.

All cases are not equal.

Jillian Forbes

Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at




1. We welcome reader comments on the top stories of the day. Some comments may be republished on the website or in the newspaper � email addresses will not be published.

2. Please understand that comments are moderated and it is not always possible to publish all that have been submitted. We will, however, try to publish comments that are representative of all received.

3. We ask that comments are civil and free of libellous or hateful material. Also please stick to the topic under discussion.

4. Please do not write in block capitals since this makes your comment hard to read.

5. Please don't use the comments to advertise. However, our advertising department can be more than accommodating if emailed:

6. If readers wish to report offensive comments, suggest a correction or share a story then please email:

7. Lastly, read our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy

comments powered by Disqus



Today's Cartoon

Click image to view full size editorial cartoon