Lawyer to again try to quash case against Reid, Pinnock

Lawyer to again try to quash case against Reid, Pinnock

Observer staff reporter

Friday, January 24, 2020

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ATTORNEY Hugh Wildman turned up at court yesterday with the intention of having the criminal charges against Caribbean Maritime University (CMU) President Professor Fritz Pinnock, former education minister Ruel Reid and his daughter Sharelle and wife Sharen, and Councillor Kim Brown Lawrence overturned.

However, that did not materialise.

Instead, Wildman will have to wait until April 8, when all the accused return to court.

During the unsuccessful application to have the case quashed, Wildman argued that the Financial Investigations Division (FID), under the FID Act, has no jurisdiction or power to institute criminal charges against anybody in Jamaica.

Noting that Chief Justice Bryan Sykes is in agreement with his argument, Wildman said he was prepared to examine the ruling that was handed down last year.

“I don't have the time for that,” chief parish Judge Chester Crooks uttered.

Wildman's application came to a halt.

Crooks told him that it would be unfair to the Crown Counsel, who had indicated prior to his application that she needed more time to comprehensively review the file.

“…Perhaps your argument will find favour, perhaps, whether the matter ought to move forward and so on, but I'll suggest — I am not saying that your submissions are not relevant today — I suggest we put it for another day to afford the Crown time to do that, review the file, so that they can say definitively what their position is and then you can make the relevant submission,” Crooks suggested.

Crooks also suggested to Wildman that he put his submission in writing, given the fact that time has passed.

Wildman replied: “I accept… it is just that for the purpose of the record I just want to make this point that based on the will of the chief justice, my client and these accused persons are not properly before the court, and it seems to me that in those circumstances, your honour, it is a matter of absolute urgency that this matter be dealt with. Because, right now, the State is facing a situation where they have charged persons without proper basis, and what will eventually have to happen enuh, they may have to [do] a supplementary budget to pay them in civil suit.”

Wildman continued: “The honourable chief justice came right down the line with our application, agreeing with everything on the interpretation of the law — everything. And just at the end, your honour, when he was to make that go through the tape and quash these charges, then he fell down like Bolt in England… Luckily, what we have done, your honour, is to restart the race and so the matter is going before three judges on the 10th of next month to restart the race so that we can get a better finish.”

Wildman said, too, that the chief justice agreed that the FID has no power to do what it did.

“He said, 'come to Half-Way-Tree and quash it,' that is why I am making this application… that is what he is saying in his judgement,” Wildman stated.

Last December, the men, in the application brought by Wildman, asserted that they were arrested and charged by the FID, which was established by Section 4 of the Financial Investigations Division Act, arguing that the FID does not have the power to arrest and charge anyone. They said that, by arresting both applicants, the FID acted outside of its statutory powers and, therefore, what it did was a nullity leading them to seek leave for judicial review.

Justice Sykes, in ruling on the matter then, said the court is of the view that the police officers in this case who arrested and charged the applicants were never designated under Section 2 of the FID Act, and that any power of arrest and charge that they used could only be by virtue of the Jamaica Constabulary Force's (JCF) powers found under The Constabulary Force Act.

“Consequently, it was not FID that arrested and charged the applicants, but JCF officers in their capacity as JCF officers,” the chief justice ruled, adding, “that still leaves open the question of whether the JCF officers utilised any power under the FID Act when they were not authorised to do.

“If yes, that might raise admissibility issues which can be addressed during the criminal trial,” Chief Justice Sykes said in the ruling.

He said: “The court has come to this position on the basis of the absence of evidence that the police officers were authorised officers under [the] FID Act.”

“I make no pronouncement on the credibility of any of the deponents in this case. This means that this decision must not be understood as indicating that the deponents for the respondents were found to be more credible than applicants,” said Sykes.

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