News

Lawyer urges colleagues to offer crime-fighting solutions

BY RACQUEL PORTER
Observer staff reporter
porterr@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

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Defence attorney Peter Champagnie yesterday urged his colleagues in the legal fraternity to offer crime-fighting solutions as the country continues to grapple the problem of murder.

Champagnie, who was speaking at the opening of the Home Circuit Court, made the call against the background of the murder last weekend of attorney Sashakay Fairclough in Ocho Rios, St Ann.

“…It is a sad reminder that none of us are immune from the savagery in terms of criminal conduct,” he said, as Justice Vivene Harris presided over the commencement of the Michaelmas Term which runs from September to December.

“Having said that, my lady, I do believe that it behoves us at the private bar especially those who practise at the criminal bar to be mindful that while we remain guardians of the rights of individuals and defend our clients to the best of our ability within the confines of the law and all ethical standards, we have a greater responsibility in this new dispensation to ...offer solutions in the way of crime fighting and crime prevention,” Champagnie said, noting that three attorneys have been killed since the start of the year.

Fairclough was shot dead last Friday while driving her car with her mother aboard. The attack was carried out by gunmen travelling in another car, police said, adding that her mother was injured.

Yesterday, Justice Harris extended condolence on behalf of judges to Fairclough's family, friends and colleagues.

“I think that that incident has brought sharply into focus that one of the things that remind us all as law-abiding citizens of Jamaica that we want to see a country where crime is significantly reduced so that our children, who are the future, will inherit a great legacy free from crime,” Justice Harris said.

Turning to the court term, Justice Harris said she's optimistic that there will be improvements in a lot of areas.

“We are going to address the high crime rate, we are going to address the long list, and we can do so by commitment, dedication and sheer will to do what is simply right; all of us as Jamaicans,” she said.

One thousand and thirty-seven cases are scheduled to be heard during the term. Of that number, 32 are new matters, while 1,005 were brought over from the Easter term.

According to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions' overview of cases for the Michaelmas Term, 569 murder cases are expected to be heard during this term. Of that number, 17 are new matters.

With murder accounting for the bulk of cases, the second-highest number of matters on the list is rape, which includes 211 old cases and five new cases. As it relates to other sexual offence cases, sexual intercourse with a person under 16 stands at 61. There are 24 buggery cases on the list as well.

Champagnie, while noting that the case management system is working, pointed out that there is room for improvement on agreement.

“We pledge at the criminal bar to cooperate and to, as best as we can as per our instructions, reach agreements and comprises where they can be reached and contest matters where there is no room for agreements, but bear in mind also that time is precious and that judicial time ought not to be wasted in terms of matters that can be agreed upon in terms of evidence and amendments to the Evidence Amendment Act,” Champagnie assured the court.

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