'This is not a patty shop'
Judge chides attorney over multiple-affidavit submission as Tesha Miller appeal hearing gets underway
MILLER... found guilty of being an accessory before and after the fact in relation to the June 27, 2008 murder of JUTC Chairman Douglas Chambers

Lawyers for Tesha Miller, the man convicted of masterminding the 2008 murder of former chairman of the Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) Douglas Chambers, on Wednesday began mounting their appeal against his 38 years at hard labour sentence.

Miller, the alleged leader of a faction of the Spanish Town, St Catherine-based Klansman Gang, was convicted in the Home Circuit Court in December 2019 after a trial in which the prosecution led evidence from a witness who alleged that he was a former member of a gang led by Miller, and that Miller had given orders and arranged for Chambers to be killed and then arranged for the shooter to be sent to the Cayman Islands on a boat to evade the police.

On Wednesday attorney John Clarke, who is the lead attorney for Miller's defence team, presented the court with an application to adduce fresh evidence in the matter along with several affidavits relating to Miller's trial which aim to, among other things, support arguments that the trial was unfair.

The court on Wednesday, in noting that several of the affidavits filed by Clarke have "numerous attachments", said he would be required to justify the documents relevant to the application to adduce fresh evidence noting that the defence team had filed papers that "have no relevance". In noting that the court would not wish "to fall into error", Justice Jennifer Straw instructed the attorney to assess the attachments for the affidavit to see which were necessary.

"I just want you to be able to justify each attachment to the various affidavits because we do not wish to fall into error by saying yes, this evidence will be relevant and so we will allow this affidavit but there are three, four, five, six attachments to these affidavits to which our attention would not have been particularly drawn, and which do not constitute fresh evidence... this is not a patty shop where you just bring in things from anywhere and just throw in things and hope to catch some fish somewhere. It has to have relevance. Look to see what can be removed," Justice Straw tutored in adjourning the sitting.

Miller, who was charged with the offences of being an accessory before the fact and after the fact, in relation to the killing, was sentenced in January 2020 to 38 years and nine months' imprisonment at hard labour, while the sentence imposed on him for the offence of accessory after the fact was 18 months' imprisonment at hard labour.

In an amended notice of application, which was filed on December 22, 2022, attorneys for Miller had requested the typewritten transcript of the original sentencing and resentencing for the Crown witness whose testimony helped to put him in prison. They further requested a written report from sentencing judge Justice Georgiana Fraser and a certified copy of her notes of the trial, and also sought permission of the court to, among other things, adduce fresh evidence on appeal.

According to attorneys for Miller, the material requested, and other orders sought, are relevant to the issues determined in the appeal.

According to the lawyers, "If received, the reports, notes, audio, affidavits, and statements would inform the basis of the grounds filed and could serve a useful purpose in assisting the parties and the court in narrowing issues demarcated in the application for leave to appeal the applicant's conviction."

They said that Miller and the fair hearing of his appeal "will be significantly prejudiced if this honourable court did not grant the orders sought".

The Appeal Court, in ordering that the application be "granted in part", had ordered that its registrar request — as a matter of urgency from the Supreme Court — the typewritten transcript of the plea proceedings conducted in November of 2019 for the Crown witness who testified against Miller, as well as the audio recording of Miller's trial over that period. It, however, refused the application for the typewritten transcript of the original sentencing exercise for the Crown witness, the written report of the sentencing judge of her opinion on the case generally, as well as the certified copy of the whole of the notes taken in the trial by the trial judge.

The matter will resume this morning.

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