Chief justice lauds women lawyers
Judiciary head commends rising number who takes on 'significant' casesMonday, September 27, 2021
BY ALICIA DUNKLEY WILLIS
Chief Justice Bryan Sykes has described what he says is “an increase in the number of women attorneys in significant criminal matters over time” as “a good development”.
The chief justice, who is presiding over the trial of 33 individuals accused of being members of the ruthless St Catherine-based Klansman/One Don Gang in the Home Circuit Division of the Supreme Court in downtown Kingston, made the observation last Thursday afternoon ahead of the adjournment of the matter.
“I see that the representation of women in significant criminal matters has increased over time.
It's a reflection of the fact that women are increasingly making their mark at the criminal bar,” he said, noting that it would appear that the seeming reluctance on the part of defendants towards female representation historically had been overcome.
The case, which includes the largest number of accused ever to be tried together in a single matter, is being handled by 40 attorneys. Based on the Jamaica Observer's count, close to 20 of that number are women. The defence team for alleged faction leader Andre ''Blackman'' Bryan who is charged with, among other things, being the leader of a criminal organisation, includes a woman attorney.
The trial got off the ground last Monday with the prosecution's first witness, Witness Number Two, taking the stand from a remote location. The self-confessed gang member turned crown witness over several days testified of using his well-appointed home to host alleged members of the notorious gang including Bryan, stash their extortion cash and their rented getaway cars. He also testified to being the driver in several murders allegedly ordered by Bryan and carried out by members of the criminal outfit in and around the central parish of St Catherine.
The accused are being tried under the Criminal Justice (Suppression of Criminal Organisations) (Amendment) Act, commonly called the Anti-gang Legislation, with several facing additional charges under the Firearms Act for crimes allegedly committed between 2015 and 2019.
All 33 accused, who are being tried under an indictment containing 25 counts, when arraigned on Monday, pleaded “not guilty” to the charges against them.
The trial resumes this morning at 10:00 o'clock, with Witness Number two slated to continue his riveting testimony.