A weekly digest of legal news under the following headings:-
Before the Courts
Developments in the profession
Law and Society
Beyond our shores
Law in the News: November 8 – 14, 2015
Before the Courts
“Can being labelled a homosexual damage a person’s reputation?” This was the question posed by High Court Judge Mira Dean-Armorer after she heard the last of the evidence in a defamation lawsuit brought by radio announcer Ricardo “Gladiator” Welch against three of his former colleagues, who he claimed tarnished his reputation by questioning his sexual orientation during a radio show in 2010.
Jamaican Opposition Senator Dr Christopher Tufton made a call in the Senate for the voting on the three bills to establish the Caribbean Court of Justice(CCJ) as Jamaica’s final appellate court, to be delayed for at least one year. He expressed concern that the vote would be unduly influenced by partisan advantage.
Three strategic laws, which are considered fundamental to undergrid Local Government Reform, were passed in the House of Representatives this past Tuesday. These legislations are intended to create the necessary framework within which local authority will operate with greater scope and autonomy.
Law and Society
In Jamaica, Sheldon Spencer and Danielle McKenzie, two parents who lost their child as a result of the bacterial outbreak at the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI) is considering taking legal action against the hospital.
Attorney at law Donna Parchment Brown is set to be sworn in as Jamaica’s new Political Ombudsman by the Governor General Sir Patrick Allen on Monday morning at a ceremony at King’s house.
St Lucia’s representative, Ms. Flavia Cherry, for the Caribbean Association for Feminist Research and Action(CAFRA) has called mandatory life imprisonment for rapists and a database system where they would be publicly identified.
Local Jamaican singer, Fabian Marley, who is claiming to be the first son of Reggae Icon Bob Marley, has been seeking a DNA comparison of his DNA with Bob Marley’s own. He intends to take legal action to enforce his request. The Marley family who is opposed to this is represented by Attorney Kevin Powell who stated that the request was unreasonable and irrational.
Deborah Thomas Felix, President of the Trinidad and Tobago Industrial Court was appointed as a member of the International Labour Organisation’s(ILO) Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations. The committee’s role is to provide an impartial and technical evaluation of the state of application of international labour standards.
Justice Seymour Panton, outgoing Court of Appeal(COA) President heavily criticized Parliament’s failure to address the low pensions of retired judges, arguing that it should be somewhat indexed to the salaries of serving judges as is done with retired prime ministers and governor generals and those currently serving. He also noted his disappointment with the Court of Appeal not being expanded in order for it to manage the heavy workload.
In Jamaica, the Centre for Investigations of Sexual Offences and Child Abuse(CISOCA) began investigations into an apparent rape video which had been posted to Facebook. The Facebook user, who is at least 25 years old is seen having sexual intercourse with a seemingly unwilling female participant. He has since been taken into custody to be questioned.
Heads of the Victims and Witness Support Unit of Police Service and the International Women’s Resource Networks in Trinidad and Tobago, Margaret Sampson Brown and Tara Ramoutar have called for a change of law which would allow the police to arrest abusers even without a complaint from the victim, once there is sufficient evidence
The ease of doing business in T&T could be hampered by recent downgrades of the country by the US and Canada concerning our compliance with Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) recommendations, Attorney-General Faris Al-Rawi stated yesterday. The FATF’s 40 recommendations include implementing adequate procedures to identify and freeze terrorist assets without delay and implementing adequate procedures for the confiscation of funds related to money laundering.
This article, written by Janielee Kelly, a student at the Hugh Wooding Law School, examines some of the laws in Trinidad and Tobago as they relate to or impact on lesbian and gay people. Many of the laws appear to be intolerant of or simply do not afford rights to the LGBT community which others have and enjoy.
Beyond Our Shores
The Supreme Court of the United States is set to consider two cases which involve ambitious state laws seeking to restrict or even eliminate access to abortion. These cases present the biggest threat to a woman’s right to obtain an abortion since 1992 and threatens the fate of the landmark decision of Roe v Wade. In particular, it determined this past Friday to hear the Texas case of Whole Woman’s Health v Cole which challenges the right to an abortion.
In England, Gayle Newland, created a fake Facebook profile, under the guise of a man, in order to deceive a friend into having sexual intercourse with her. She was found of guilty of three sexual assault charges. The prosecution described the case as an unusual one set against an extraordinary background. Judge Roger Dutton, despite his acceptance of her mental conditions declared he could not pass a lenient sentence as the offences were sufficiently serious to warrant immediate custodial sentence.
Columbia’s Justice Minister, Yesid Reyes announced the government’s plan to legalize the cultivation and sale of marijuana for medicinal and scientific purposes. The executive decree, expected to be signed into law by President Juan Manuel Santos will regulate regulating everything from licensing for growers to the eventual export of product made from marijuana.