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News and Views by Dionne Jackson Miller

pointed commentary on current affairs in Jamaica and the Caribbean

Month

March 2012

Hello! PNP!!!!!! Most people didn’t vote for you!

The People’s National Party (PNP) is in full self-congratulatory mode –  back-slapping – grinning from ear to ear – publishing countless orange maps of Jamaica – mode. At some point, may we hope that they’ll pause to seriously consider the fact that nearly two-thirds of registered voters couldn’t be bothered to spend the five minutes or so it would have taken to vote in Monday’s empty polling stations?

The voter turn-out was about 34.5%. That says clearly that increasingly the political parties are talking to themselves. Barely more than 50% of registered voters voted in the December 29 election, still low, but higher than Monday’s figure. Even as the parties’ rhetoric about the importance of local government rises, public interest is plunging.

While we have a general problem with political apathy, I am suggesting that it’s time to start serious discussion about holding both general and local government elections on the same day, on the same ballot. Here are some pros and cons.  

Pros

  1. We would save millions of dollars by having one election instead of two.
  2. The significant hype and attention given to general elections would help raise the profile of the local government elections.
  3. The local government candidates could campaign with the general election candidates, therefore raising their profile and visibility in the communities. We might even be able to figure out who our local government candidates are BEFORE we turn up at the polling stations! (personally – I did get a flyer from the sitting councillor (who I know) and a small card with the name and photo of the opposing candidate telling me where to vote).
  4. We’d only have to deal with one round of campaigning, not two (for those who saw any campaigning at all).
  5. Businesses and schools wouldn’t lose that extra day.

Cons

  1. Um, I can’t think of any.
  2. Ok, opponents argue that local government issues will be subordinated to the national issues in a general election campaign. I can’t take this very seriously. There is very little attention paid to local government issues anyway. Since local government is supposed to be community-based, then you don’t need the national media houses to feature your candidates and issues to any great extent. Plus we can’t. There are too many of them.  Work with the community stations and groups.
  3. We would need legislative changes to allow same-day elections. Well, we amend legislation all the time. Somehow I think we can manage this.
  4. The problems of the different length parliamentary and local government terms would have to be considered. Again, this is not insurmountable. Not even close. Because of all the postponements of local government elections, councillors have frequently served four or five year terms anyway (stretching to about eight years for one notable period in the 1990s under the PNP, a dubious distinction of which the party should still be thoroughly ashamed.) We can decide to establish a fixed election date and hold both elections together. Or we can decide that both the parish councils and the parliament would be dissolved at the same time.
  5. It doesn’t suit the political parties. Ah, that trumps everything, doesn’t it?

Requiem for a Jamaican teenager

I don’t know Vanessa Kirkland. I don’t know her family. And I certainly don’t know exactly happened on Tuesday night. What I do know is that a 16-year-old girl is dead, a high school student who was preparing to sit exams, and whose future stretched out ahead of her, full of potential and possibility.

There’s an empty space in her house this morning, her bed not slept in, her school uniforms not worn, her notes for exams never to be used. Reports are that Vanessa had recently taken graduation photographs. When they arrive, there’ll be no girlish giggling over them. Instead, there’s a good chance those photographs will only be greeted with tears.

Her mother has lost a daughter, and her siblings, a sister, in a manner that must be hard to accept.  The future her mother dreamed of for her no longer exists. We grieve with her, and we know it could be us. Today fi you, tomorrow fi me.

And although we don’t know precisely what happened, the circumstances under which Vanessa died and the disjointed “PRELIMINARY REPORT” are sufficiently cloudy and questionable to raise inevitable feelings of mistrust and anger. This is where Independent Commissioner of Investigations (INDECOM) Commissioner Terrence Williams’ complaint about the inability to get ballistics tests done speedily must raise renewed concern.

Because the least we can do now for Vanessa is to insist on a speedy and effective investigation. Let her mother, and the country, know exactly what happened. She deserves that much.

GSAT – the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat – Part 1

 

 

The main difference between the Common Entrance Examination (CEE) and Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT) is there are more subjects and more material to study for GSAT. But let us not forget, results day for CEE was just as stressful and traumatic.

That’s because the fundamental question these tests answer is “Which high school will my child attend?” Therein lies the problem, since the test results determine placement at the high school level, and the facilities and reputation of the high schools can vary markedly.

I don’t think that the main problem is the exam itself. The problem is that there are only a handful of high schools that we parents want our children to attend.  Think about it. The desperation to get test scores up over 80% and 90% is almost entirely due to anxiety to get our children into one of the “brand name” schools.

The extra classes starting in Grade Four, the after school, Saturday, Sunday and Christmas classes are fueled primarily by our desire to get our children into their first choice school. (Parents are allowed to select five schools on the GSAT application form. Some are more popular than others and therefore children have to score higher and higher to get into them).

If we were assured that even if our children scored 80%, 70%, 60%, they would still end up going to a school with good facilities, good security, with no apparent problems of criminal gangs operating (yes, that’s what we’ve come to) and one in which we could be sure that their abilities would be nurtured and their potential realized, would we push our children so hard?

If we were convinced that their future did not depend to such a great extent on their GSAT placing, would we be able to relax a bit more, and place a little less stress on them? I make the point about security and gangs because I think that the lure of the “brand name” schools is greater than just academic excellence, it is also their reputation for law and order and a relatively peaceful school environment that attracts parents.

Many of the upgraded high schools have been doing better and better. But we still have a way to go.

So by all means, let’s review GSAT. But until we do more to solve the problem of inequity at the high school level, nothing will change and we will continue to see Grade Six children learning, far too early, the thrill of academic victory and the agony of defeat. 

 

 

Jamaica 50 could make or break Lisa Hanna. Which will it be?

Lisa Hanna got major props from a lot of people during the Youth Debate in the run-up to the general election. People who had previously only seen her as a “former beauty queen” were impressed with her performance. She was criticized for some of her answers, but overall, she made a very favorable impression.

Her appointment as a full Cabinet Minster was further validation of her rising star status, but her political ascent could be accelerated or brought to a screeching halt this year.

The Culture Ministry is not usually a very high-profile portfolio. Culture is seen as one of the “soft” Ministries that doesn’t carry the cachet or media attention of some of the others. In an ordinary year, therefore, Ms. Hanna, as a new Minister, would have a little time, under the radar, to figure out the ins and outs of her Ministry and learn on the job.

Not this year. This year is Jamaica 50. All you can hear in every other sentence is Jamaica 50. So the celebrations spearheaded by the Culture Ministry are going to be squarely in the media spotlight.

The planning started last year with Ms. Hanna’s predecessor, Olivia “Babsy” Grange. She set up a secretariat, and commissioned a Jamaica 50 song, which, up to the start of this year was relatively unknown, as I mentioned here in a previous post.

There was always going to be pressure attached to the Jamaica 50 activities. But given Ms. Hanna’s early criticism of the JLP administration’s planning process, and Ms. Grange’s speedy defence, we can expect even closer scrutiny of the celebrations and the Minister herself.

And it’s not just the celebrations. The process is going to be just as important. With the Contractor General and Auditor General waiting in the wings, any good governance shortcuts and attempts to ride roughshod over government procurement guidelines to give jobs to Comrades are likely to be exposed. Reports of mismanagement and corruption will dull the new Minister’s  star faster than you can say Jamaica 50.

 

Ms. Hanna says the nation will soon hear the revised plans for the celebrations. She is surely aware of what is at stake, not just for the country, but for her.

Book Review – “And Still I Rise – Seeking Justice for Stephen”

Cover of "And Still I Rise"
Cover of And Still I Rise

This is the compelling story of the Stephen Lawrence case told by his mother Doreen. Stephen was an 18-year-old British teenager of Jamaican parents, who was stabbed to death by a group of white youths in a vicious, unprovoked attack, on the night of April 22, 1993, while he was waiting at a bus stop with a friend.

The book begins with the words:

Two lives ended one chilly April night thirteen years ago. One was the life of my elder son…He was murdered by a gang of violent, racist boys, and they got away with it. They remain unpunished to this day. The second life that ended was the life I thought was mine.

Doreen Lawrence’s story, for it is her story as much as it is Stephen’s, is told in a direct, conversational style that is very easy to read, and at the same time very moving.

She traces her early years in Jamaica, starting with her comfortable, protected life with loving grandparents. She  went to live with an uncaring aunt after her grandmother’s death, and then migrated to England at the age of nine to live with a distant mother with whom she was never able to establish any real relationship.

Lawrence describes her marriage, which she says made her feel “needed and valued” for the first time since her grandmother’s death and also chronicles the years before Stephen’s killing with her husband, Neville, and her three children.

But the bulk of the book, of course, is given over to Stephen’s brutal murder, and the family’s determination to get justice for him.

Even if you have been following this case, the book will probably give you a new perspective. It exposes in detail the true depth of the indifference, negligence and racism of the police force, the courage and determination it clearly took for a working-class, immigrant, black family to challenge the largely white and powerful establishment in the way they did, and the dedication of the lawyers who worked with them throughout the years.

Here are some highlights:

1.The police were not short on intelligence. There were dozens of tip-offs in the first couple of days, many repeating the same names. One man walked into the police station less than a day after the killing and named three of the killers and told the police their address.

2. The killers named were known trouble-makers who had already attacked several other people.

3. It wasn’t until three days after the murder that the police sent a photographer and a policeman to carry out surveillance of the house at which the murderers were staying. The photographer took pictures of two of the youths leaving the house with appeared to be bags of clothes. The policeman couldn’t follow them as he had no car, and couldn’t call anyone because he had no cell phone. In the meantime, the full surveillance team was shadowing a black youth suspected of “theft from the person.”

4. The Lawrences were able to meet with Nelson Mandela two weeks after the murder, and Mandela’s

Nelson Mandela, July 4 1993.
Nelson Mandela, July 4 1993. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

public condemnation of the killing helped to raise its profile in the media.

5. While the campaign for justice was heating up, one senior police officer wrote another stating that  “…our patience is wearing thin, not only with the Lawrence family and their representatives, but also with self-appointed public and media commentators.”

6. On February 14, 1997 based on the information that came out in the inquest,  the Daily Mail took the unprecedented step of naming the five white youths as murderers in a banner headline and challenging them to sue for defamation.

7. The family initially objected to the appointment of retired Justice Sir William MacPherson to head the landmark public enquiry into the matter because of his record of being severe on immigrants and asylum-seekers. The MacPherson Report turned out to be highly critical of the police force which Sir William  accused of  “institutional racism.”

(photo credit – BBC)

8. The Lawrences’ marriage crumbled under the weight of their grief and depression.

Two of the murderers were, in January, convicted as a result of advances in forensic science, and also because of a momentous 2003 amendment to the criminal law which abolished the double jeopardy rule which stated that no one could be tried twice for the same crime. This had been one of the recommendations in the MacPherson report and was critical to the convictions as the family had mounted an unsuccessful  private prosecution against the youths.

Named for the Maya Angelou poem from which Doreen Lawrence says she draws strength, And Still I Rise is not just a good read, it is a poignant account of an ordinary woman thrust into circumstances she never would have chosen, and in the process, accomplishing extraordinary things.

Highly recommended.

Suffering to Pay Taxes

Taxes
Taxes (Photo credit: Tax Credits)

Yesterday I joined the throngs of people  rushing to the Constant Spring Tax Office to give Caesar his due. Three hours later I emerged, back aching, bleary-eyed, hungry, in fact, totally pop dung, as one of my colleagues commented.

I’m not taking on the three-hour waiting time to do a three-minute transaction, not today at least. I did wait until nearly the last minute and I didn’t try to file online. No, my complaint today is far more basic.

 

 

Is it really beyond someone in Customer Service, or for that matter, anyone in the entire Tax Department to suggest that chairs be provided for taxpayers? It has now become commonplace for business places with good customer service to have a numbering system and a place you can sit and wait. Hell, the passport office, another government agency with excruciatingly long waiting times, albeit all year round, has  provided two tents and chairs outside for customers, and there are more chairs once you get inside.

 

 

So what’s with the tax department? Too busy collecting money to think about the people paying it? This one is a no-brainer. Hey, I’m a taxpayer, I wouldn’t object to a couple thousand dollars being spent on some chairs. Would you?

taxes
taxes (Photo credit: 401(K) 2012)

 

Why E-Readers are Great – Even for the Fuddy-Duddies!

English: Open book icon
English: Open book icon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Fuddy-duddies aren’t supposed to like E-readers. And I admit it – I’m a fuddy-duddy. I resisted getting a Blackberry, I still haven’t started to use Internet banking, I like paying bills at a counter and getting back paper receipts – what can I say, I don’t like change. So the idea of using an E-reader just wasn’t a huge draw for me. Until I tried it. And I got hooked immediately. Here’s why.

1. It’s so easy to buy books – let’s face it, most local bookstores are really limited in what they stock, and even the best aren’t superstores. My corner of heaven is going to have a superstore bargain book table, so when I’m faced with a device that with a couple of clicks can instantly deliver to me any book I want, I’m already in heaven – until the credit card bill comes!

2.  One device can hold hundreds of books. All the classics you can download for FREE – and a bunch of other books you can buy for as little as a few $US (and anything else you want to buy for plenty $US.)  Confession – I’m a bag lady (I couldn’t find a picture of a bag lady who was good-looking and black and had locks, so I went with good-looking!)

. I walk around with four or five books at a time because I like to read several different books at once.

books
books (Photo credit: brody4)

The E-reader is supposed to eliminate that. Unless you then find yourself walking around with the E-reader plus four or five books, in which case I’m, I mean you’re,  beyond help.

3. Lighting. They have their own lighting source, so instead of cotching up under a reading lamp at night, you can see to read. This is especially important after you pass one of those landmark birthdays!

4.  They cut out the middleman. As an aspiring author, it’s great to know that if for some strange reason, I can’t find anyone willing to publish my M.Phil. thesis with the thrilling and provocative title of “The ecology of Procryptotermes corniceps in the Port Royal mangal, with some reference to Incisitermes schwarzi” (I’m not kidding), now I can put it out there myself and see the big bucks roll in!

So fuddy-duddies of the world, this E-reader thing really isn’t that bad! Give it a try and see!

Prince Harry and the Hug

 

English: Prince Harry at a 2009 charity match ...
English: Prince Harry at a 2009 charity match at , London. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have been a little perplexed by the coverage of Prince Harry’s visit by the international media. Reporters almost universally seemed to interpret the positive reception the young Royal received as a diplomatic coup for the Royal Family in general and Harry in particular. The hug between Harry and Portia made headlines as an example of Harry’s charm and warmth despite the PM’s reputation as a hugger extraordinaire.   A few reports say the PM was the hugger.  More seem to prefer the story that she was the hugee. But you get the sense that they expected her to show, on some level,  hostility or unfriendliness until Harry charmed her. What nonsense.

I suppose all the emphasis on the warmth of the Jamaican welcome stemmed from fears that given the Prime Minister’s avowed determination to sever ties with the monarchy, there might have been street protests and embarrassing demonstrations,  with the BBC et al. on hand to capture scenes of crowds lining the streets and booing a red-faced Harry, while waving badly lettered cardboard placards reading “Out with the Queen!”

The fact that no such protests materialized is not, I believe, an indication of whether or not people want to hold on to the Queen. We are perfectly capable of welcoming a foreign visitor, especially someone exotic enough to be labeled with that fairy-tale designation “Prince” (Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty anyone?) while still maintaining core beliefs. Can a white Prince dance reggae?

Can a royal soldier shoot?

What does he look like up close?  What will he say to Bolt and Portia?

 

Royals are also celebrities, and we love celebrities, whether or not they happen to represent our Head of State.

I interviewed Paul Harrison of Sky News who made a point of saying that most Jamaicans he spoke to thought bread and butter issues were more important than replacing The Queen.  That’s undoubtedly true. Replacing The Queen is never likely to show up on a list of priorities for a people struggling with poverty and crime.

There’s also a lot of talk about the affection older Jamaicans feel towards The Queen, making them loath to cut ties.  Harry’s visit could cement that feeling, it is suggested.

Have several days  of a pre-planned publicity tour really had any significant impact on us?   Surely not. Harry is really not that important. Or is he? Maybe some people feel that anyone who can race Usain Bolt, drop a likkle patwa (he’s quoted as saying “every liddle ting gonna be aright!” at the Kings House State dinner – I assure you, that’s the spelling used in the release) and gamely take to the dance floor to “drop foot” is one more reason for us not to cut our last remaining ties with Britain. If so, God help us. Have a view, whether for or against holding on to the monarchy. We can argue that out another time. But don’t base your view on the manufactured visit of  an irrelevant prince . That would just be royally stupid.

The Green Bay Killings, Vybz Kartel and the Media

Dr. Carolyn Cooper recently wrote an interesting article in the Sunday Gleaner in which she quoted from  a letter  written to her by dance hall deejay Vybz Kartel complaining that he would be unable to get a fair trial because of all the publicity being given to his case. He was quoted in part as saying that:

 “i’m being painted as this evil ‘D.J. by day, don by night’ murderer who is society’s number one cause of crime and violence. The police is using the media to slaughter me and as such i don’t think i will get a fair trial. They are using the media to form public opinion of me that is so contradictory to the person that I really am. They (police) have tried my case in the public & found me guilty.”

Part two of the column was published March 11, 2012, and the letter concludes on a similar note (with the inclusion of a poem).

I therefore thought it would be interesting to revisit the Privy Council case which dealt with this issue and which attorney-at-law Clyde Williams highlighted recently in a discussion with me on Beyond the Headlines.

In that case, Grant and Others v Director of Public Prosecutions (1980) 30 WIR 246,   the courts decided that the pre-trial publicity did not rise to the level that demonstrated that the accused would be unable to get a fair trial despite what the Privy Council called “the campaign in the Gleaner newspapers against the appellants.” The Court of Appeal said that it was not enough to show, as the Courts agreed had been done, that there had been “adverse publicity… likely to have a prejudicial effect on the minds of potential jurors.”

Instead, what has to be shown is that “the prejudice is so widespread and so indelibly impressed on the minds of potential jurors that it is unlikely that a jury unaffected by it can be obtained.” 

This is such a high bar, that we are unlikely to see any accused persons reach it any time soon.

How bad was the publicity and what did the courts say?

The case was brought by persons accused of murder and conspiracy in the notorious case which came to be known as the Green Bay killings. NB –  The case also dealt with a procedural point which I am not examining here.

Background

In the early hours of Thursday 5th January 1978, there was an operation by the Army at Green Bay (the army firing range) in the parish of St Catherine and five persons were killed.

The allegations were that these five persons and others had been lured to their death at Green Bay by members of the Military Intelligence Unit of the Jamaica Defence Force, but that some of them escaped and made the matter public.

Coroner’s Inquest

The jury at a coroner’s inquest concluded that the deceased died of gun-shot wounds, and had been murdered; but said they could determine by whom.

Charges

The DPP charged five persons with conspiracy to murder, two of them and  another five persons were also charged with the murders.

These people stated that after the inquest, they became the target of “massive pre-trial publicity and prejudice” in the public media in general and, in particular, in the Daily Gleaner and Star newspapers.

They sought to establish, among other things, that they would therefore be unable to get a “fair hearing” as was their right under section 20 (1) of the Constitution which states that anyone charged with a criminal offence must:

“be afforded a fair hearing within a reasonable time by an independent and impartial court established by law…’

Supreme Court

 

The applicants had first applied to the Full Court which dismissed their application.

This was despite a statement by Chief Justice Smith that the:

 “evidence presented overwhelmingly establishes that there has been pre-trial publicity, of the widest dissemination, which is calculated to create widespread prejudice of the gravest kind against the [appellants] in respect of their trial, which is pending..”

Court of Appeal

The Court of Appeal also dismissed their appeal.

The Court of Appeal had referred to the English case of Attorney-General v Times Newspapers Ltd ([1973] 3 All ER 54.  [1974] AC 273) where Lord Reid, while noting the need to balance conflicting interests, stated that

‘There has long been and there still is in this country a strong and generally-held feeling that trial by newspaper is wrong and should be prevented…”

The Publicity

The Court of Appeal referred to the material presented to it including the following:

Gleaner Headline

A headline in the Daily Gleaner on Tuesday 23rd May 1978 read   ‘It was murder at Green Bay, says jury’ and which the appellants said would “lead the ignorant, the unsophisticated and even ordinary members of the public unaware of legal niceties, to form the view that the appellants had been tried and found guilty of murder by a jury of their peers in criminal proceedings.”

Even though the Court of Appeal acknowledged that in the body of the report, it was correctly stated that the jury did not name the murderers, the Court said that

 “it set the stage so to speak.”

The Court stated, however, that the  particular report could not,  in itself,  be regarded as prejudicing the appellants’ case since  the jury, in effect, had reached that verdict.

Carl Stone Poll

The Court, in its judgment delivered by Justice Carberry, then referred to a poll carried out by Dr. Carl Stone and which it called:

an item that was surely one of the most astonishing ever in the fields of journalism and the reporting and covering of criminal proceedings…”

Dr. Stone had sworn an affidavit in which he stated that a minimum of 75 per cent of all persons interviewed were aware of the Green Bay affair, and 57 per cent had formed advance opinions in relation to the army personnel involved.

The Court said that the poll would confirm the view of the majority, unsettle the minority and persuade the uncommitted.

Sunday Gleaner article

The Sunday Gleaner of May 28th, 1978  published an article headed ‘Green Bay: what made them do it?’ which, according to the Court, proceeded on:

“the assumption of guilt of cold-blooded murder on the part of the appellants, who had already been indicted by the evidence, to dismiss any possible defence as a ‘farrago of lies and fairy tales’ which ‘would fail to fool an imbecile child’ and to address itself to a discussion of the evidence and speculation as to what inspired the Jamaica Defence Force to involve itself in cold-blooded murder? In the comment that followed, readers were invited to conclude that this was a plot to kill gunmen allegedly belonging to the opposition so as to further the military career of those involved, to discredit the Opposition and to lay the foundation for further atrocities of a like nature.”

Number of Articles

Counsel for one of the appellants reported that there were some seventeen similar articles in the space of a little over one month.  After the appellants had been arrested, an additional  80-odd articles were published.

Why dismiss the appeal?

So why did the Court of Appeal rule against the appellants?

Justice Carberry said the Court had weighed the following factors:

–        the seriousness of the prejudice, and its likely effect on the jury;

–       the interest of society in the enforcement of the law and

–       the availability of methods which could minimise the prejudice, but which had not yet been tried, namely:

  •  a challenge to the jury
  •  change of venue and
  •  postponements.

The Justices of Appeal maintained that they were …

“not, however, satisfied that the likelihood is that the minds of such potential jurors would be so indelibly prejudiced that the means available to a trial court (in particular, the challenge of jurors and the warning by the trial judge to jurors to put aside prejudice) would be ineffective to ensure a fair hearing by an impartial tribunal.’

I’ve quoted extensively from the Court of Appeal judgment because the judges at the Privy Council clearly found it highly persuasive.

In delivering the ruling of the Privy Council, Lord Diplock quoted Justice White who said in the Supreme Court (1979) 29 WIR at pp 275, 276) that :

“…it is previous and premature to suggest that the pre-trial publicity will have had such an effect that a judge and a jury of twelve persons cannot be found in Jamaica to give careful and objective audition to the evidence, and earnestly and conscientiously to deliberate the issues that will be raised thereby, and so give a true verdict according to the evidence.  I reject any such notion as untenable, and as displaying a most regrettable lack of confidence in, and respect for, the institutions established to this end.’

Lord Diplock also quoted Justice Carberry in the Court of Appeal who said that the appellants had to show:

 “that there is likely to be a failure to afford them a fair hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal.  It is not sufficient for them to establish (as they have done) that there has been adverse publicity which is likely to have a prejudicial effect on the minds of potential jurors.  They must go further, and establish that the prejudice is so widespread and so indelibly impressed on the minds of potential jurors that it is unlikely that a jury unaffected by it can be obtained. We are not satisfied that they have established this, having regard to the common law remedial measures which we indicated arc available to a trial court.’

The common law remedial measures being referred to were:

–        change of venue to a different parish  from that  in which the deceased lived;

–       postponing the trial to allow potential jurors to forget the adverse publicity and

–       the exercise of the judge’s discretion to allow each juror to be questioned as to his freedom from bias despite the pre-trial publicity.

Having referred to these statements in the Courts below, Lord Diplock stated that:

 “The judiciary in Jamaica have wide and up-to-date experience of juries in criminal cases.  In face of their opinion that, despite the prejudicial pretrial publicity that had taken place, it had not been shown that it would be impossible to impanel an impartial jury, their Lordships, lacking that experience, would hesitate long and anxiously before being persuaded to the contrary.”

The Privy Council stated that, along with the ruling of the Court of Appeal they considered the fact that counsel for the appellents had declined to argue that it would be impossible to find an impartial Jamaican jury, both of which led the Privy Council to rule that it was “quite unarguable” that  the appellants’ constitutional rights  “have been, were being or are likely to be, contravened.”

Post Script: A jury was selected for the conspiracy trial after potential jurors had been questioned by the judge and counsel. All five persons charged were discharged, and the DPP then entered a nolle prosequi in the murder cases since the evidence presented in the first trial would  essentially be  the same as that which would be presented in the murder cases.

Comment: This judgment and the outcome of the case suggest  that we may never see a Jamaican court finding that adverse pre-trial publicity would render a trial unfair.  To say that the Kartel case thus far doesn’t even come close is an understatement of massive proportions.

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