A weekly digest of legal news under the following headings:-
Before the Courts
Developments in the profession
Law and Society
Beyond our shores
The corruption case against Opposition parliamentarian Daryl Vaz has been dismissed. Vaz’s trial got underway in the Corporate Area Criminal Court this morning but the Crown was dealt a blow after the main witness said he could not recall the details of the 2012 incident. As the court resumed this afternoon, prosecutors offered no further evidence and Resident Magistrate Maxine Ellis later told Vaz he was free to go.
The Government has been given the green light to continue the bidding process for infrastructure improvement at the Braco Hotel in Trelawny, which has been closed since May 2013. The improvement project has been stalled since late last year, following a lawsuit brought by two bidders against the National Investment Fund Resort Management Company Limited – a subsidiary of the National Insurance Fund (NIF) and the Attorney General.
Before the Courts
A senior official at the Bank of Jamaica (BOJ) is among more than 70 public-sector employees expected to be hauled before the court today in a fresh crackdown by the Corruption Prevention Commission (CPC) on public servants accused ignoring their responsibility to file statutory declarations on time.
The male UWI Mona student accused of attacking a fellow female student is scheduled to return to the Corporate Area Resident Magistrate’s Court on April 7th 2015.
Barbados government legislators have defended the immigration policy of the island despite a recent ruling by the Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice awarding Jamaican Shanique Myrie a substantial amount of money for being denied entry.
Debating the Immigration (Amendment) Bill, the legislators urged immigration officers not to be intimidated by travellers who sought to subvert the island’s immigration policy.
The Bill to grant amnesty to “thousands” of illegal immigrants received bi-partisan support when it was passed in the Lower House, yesterday, after numerous recommendations were adopted to expand the criteria and yet make them more stringent.
The Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) says it is working towards the establishment of a regime for the free circulation of goods (FCG) during 2015.
Law and Society
Telecoms expert, Professor Hopeton Dunn, is of the view that the assessments of legislation could be compromised because of the pace at which the Government has to approve laws under the programme with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). He was reacting to The Gleaner‘s discovery that private information can be accessed from the website of the National Security Interests Registry.
Some have suggested the law should be changed to require the use of a TRN to access information on the web site.
Similarly Opposition spokesman on Science, ICT & Digital Society Development, Dr. Andrew Wheatley lamented that the controversy surrounding the website highlighted the absence of data protection and privacy legislation, of which no coherent and meaningful response has come from the Government to date.
The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Paula Llewellyn is renewing her call for her office to be given the right to appeal verdicts. The call follows last week’s decision in which a Westmoreland jury freed an alleged bigamist despite what appeared to have been compelling evidence.
MINISTER OF INDUSTRY AND COMMERCE Donville Inniss is “deeply troubled” there’s no Barbadian on the bench of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ). Opposition MP Kerrie Symmonds described Inniss’ comments as “feckless and brainless buffooonery” while the Nation News editors have said the issue “is not even a slight breeze in a teacup”, and Jeff Cumberbatch expressed his fundamental disagreement with those views. The Barbados Bar Association also rejected the Minister’s suggestion as a xenophobic approach.
The Bar association again came out in defence of the CCJ when Vernon Smith QC said he was offended by the Court’s accusation that he had abused the judicial process of the court. President of the Bar Association, Tariq Khan, hailed the welcomed continued comments made by the CCJ in relation to the delays in the administration of justice in the island.
In other news concerning the CCJ, Ismail Erturk, an expert in corporate and international finance and a senior lecturer at Manchester Business School, leaving the Privy Council could negatively impact both existing and future foreign direct investment in Jamaica. He put forward no evidence in support of this claim.
While the Belize Bar Association expressed that it had the “signal honor” of hosting CCJ President, Sir Dennis Byron, last week.
The Trinidad and Tobago Judiciary was puzzled about attorney at law Mark Seepersad’s comments that he had not been interviewed during the police investigation into the discovery of High Court documents in his office in 2010. The documents included a notebook belonging to Justice Lennox Deyalsingh and personal documents belonging to a then judicial support officer at the Supreme Court. The investigation cleared him of any criminal wrongdoing.
According to the Supreme Court ruling in the case of Arthur Williams v Andrew Holness, political leaders have no power to revoke the appointment of Senators. The question we are left with is whether they should have that power. And the Part 2.
Authur Williams has attempted to clear the air on his role in drafting the letters.
I thank the great Dr Lloyd Barnett for his contribution to the current constitutional debate. We’ll have to agree to disagree, but I suspect our disagreement is purely philosophical.
Notwithstanding these gaps and inconsistencies, no person can successfully challenge these laws on the basis that they infringe any of the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution of Jamaica, 1962. This is because of the savings provision in Section 13(12) (a) of the Constitution.
It’s been impossible to pin down THEY; they metamorphose every five years, only to change colour, not to advance the interests of those they love. Meanwhile, we suffer the pangs of despised love, waiting for a consummation of our rights from a full review of the Constitution, instead of the piece-by-piece changes.
Beyond our Shores
In the United States, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed that the company A.V.E.L.A used Bob Marley’s photographs on merchandise sold at major retailers such as Target and Walmart for commercial advantage without permission. The unauthorized use amounted to a trademark breach and the court held that there was confusion as to the origin of the goods.
Dominique Strauss – Kahn who is the Former Chief of the International Monetary Fund is expected to hear on June 12th whether investigative magistrates have accepted his version that he was unaware that the sex parties he attended involved prostitutes and that he was not responsible for organizing them. Strauss – Kahn has been charged of aggravated pimping.
His lawyers believe that the prosecution’s case has collapsed and that the law had been twisted to attack Strauss Kahn over his morals.
This article looks at a pending Supreme Court decision in Texas where the court could potentially rule that disparate impact claims cannot be made under the State’s Fair Housing Act. Disparate impact claims is where a policy or practice may be deemed illegal if it disproportionately affects minorities. The author notes that this decision could shed a disturbing light on how this court believes the law should react to entrenched discrimination.
A Texas arbitration panel ruled in favour of SCA Promotions for US$10 million in its suit against former American cyclist Lance Armstrong for bonuses it paid for his Tour de France championships. According to the SCA the ruling is the largest award of sanctions assessed against an individual in American judicial history.