Criminal defence lawyers weary of Parliament granting powers of appeal to the country’s main prosecutorial body need to “grow up” and enter the 21st century, Paula Llewellyn, the state’s chief prosecutor, has argued.
“The pendulum of justice must swing in both directions, not only for the accused but also for the victim,” she insisted on Thursday at a virtual Gleaner Editors’ Forum.
Lawmakers are debating a bill to empower the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) with the right to appeal low sentences and questionable decisions in the Supreme and Parish courts.
But some defence lawyers have strongly objected, arguing that the Government undertaking to try a person twice for the same crime is in breach of the double-jeopardy principle enshrined in the Constitution.
The Jamaican Bar Association doesn’t yet have an official position, explaining that the proposed legislation is being reviewed by its criminal law and practice subcommittee.
Jason Hamilton, a defence lawyer of more than 20 years in St Kitts and Nevis, where prosecutors have the right of appeal, said out of fairness, lawyers shouldn’t be bothered by the provision.