It's up to PM Holness to strike a blow for Jamaica's justice system
Prime Minister Andrew Holness

IF we in this space had to make the choice of sullying the name of a brilliant, patriotic, and all-conquering prosecutor, or a murder convict, our decision would be a slam dunk.

Faced with a type of Hobson's choice, attorney Mr Hugh Wildman tried to win a case on behalf of his client, Mr Mervin Cameron — a murder convict — by arguing for the disqualification of Ms Paula Llewellyn, KC, director of public prosecutions (DPP), against whom he (Wildman) unsuccessfully vied for the position in 2008.

Mr Wildman, himself a former DPP of Grenada, where he was given a warm time by the local legal fraternity, filed a suit in the Jamaican Supreme Court last week on behalf of Mr Cameron, contending that the three-year extension of Ms Llewellyn's tenure as DPP in 2020 was not gazetted and therefore of no effect.

Mr Cameron is quoted in news reports that checks made by his lawyer, Mr Wildman, at the Jamaica Printing Services Limited (government office), revealed that the extension was not gazetted. He was therefore of the view that the Office of the DPP was vacant.

Of course, the extension was duly published in Volume CXLIII of the Jamaica Gazette dated August 26, 2020, with the government notice reading: "The governor general, acting on the recommendation of the prime minister, after consultation with the leader of the Opposition, has approved that the appointment of Miss Paula Llewellyn, QC, director of public prosecutions in the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, be extended for three years, with effect from the 21st September 2020 in accordance with Section 96(1)(b) of the Constitution of Jamaica."

So gleeful was Mr Wildman that he went on to propose that, according to law, the "constitution does not provide for a second extension of tenure to be granted to any holder of the post".

It is fact that the constitution stipulates that the DPP should retire at age 60, even though changes since have raised the official retirement age to 65. Also, the extension of her tenure in 2020 is the only one allowed under the law. Therefore, for Ms Llewellyn to remain in office beyond September this year when she will mark her 63rd birthday, the law would have to be amended.

Fortunately, Prime Minister Andrew Holness has enough time, if he so chooses, to have the relevant amendment done to Section 96(1) of the constitution so Ms Llewellyn's tenure could be extended for another two years, or for such period as the amendment might allow.

As he did in the first extension, Mr Holness must act again in the interest of the Jamaican justice system which can scarcely afford to have this super prosecutor — who has not reached the official retirement age — unavailable to serve in a position in which she has no clear equal.

In 15 years as Jamaica's first woman DPP, Ms Llewellyn has conducted herself with ultimate skill and candour, demonstrating selfless commitment to the cause of justice and symbolising the best example of service to country.

We really don't know what to make of Mr Greg Christie — another short-lived DPP of the Turks and Caicos Islands — retweeting the story about Mr Wildman's assertions. We would suggest that he be careful not to be swept up in the vortex of social media.

After all, he could find himself in a pickle for retweeting that Integrity Commission report that the prime minister was involved in a conflict of interest case, despite the commission having knowledge of the director of corruption prosecution's ruling that the prime minister should not be charged.

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