Defence lawyer, DPP clash over delays in cases
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July 27, 2007
Defence lawyer, DPP clash over delays in cases

Prominent criminal defence lawyer Kay Bacchus-Browne says that the Director of Public Prosecution’s (DPP) office is tardy and Colin Williams is not correct when he suggests that she is the reason why her High Court cases are not being heard.{{more}}

This is part of the drama related to reports last week that nine inmates at Her Majesty’s prison have gone on hunger strike demanding that their cases be heard more speedily in the High Courts.

Bacchus-Browne represents three of the men who were reportedly on this hunger strike, and she told SEARCHLIGHT that she was not the reason why her clients’ cases were not heard.

She said that the preliminary inquiries of two of her clients, murder accused, Sheldon Bain and Michael Samuel were concluded since 2005, and they are still awaiting trial.

“I had discussions with the DPP, he knew that I would be ready from the end of June to proceed with my matters,” Bacchus-Browne said.

Williams refutes this.

He told SEARCHLIGHT that he knew that Bacchus-Browne was going to be out of state on personal business and had no knowledge of her availability for trial.

“Kay was available for sentencing matters but not a trial,” Williams said.

But Bacchus-Browne made reference to a letter that her office sent to the DPP dated March 12th, 2007, in which she demanded that Michael Samuel’s trial be brought forward because he feared for his life, and was waiting too long for his matter to be heard.

“I told him that my client maintained his innocence in the charges brought against him and it would be unconstitutional to keep him waiting any longer,” Bacchus Browne said.

Bacchus-Browne also represents Francis Williams, who is charged with the murder of Glenn Jackson, the Prime Minister’s former press secretary. Williams was rushed to hospital last Wednesday after he took ill; a direct result, it is believed, of his hunger strike.

Williams said that he doesn’t understand what Francis Williams would want to protest seeing that his trial is not at the top of the list for trial.

“Francis Williams has just gone in there and will have to wait his turn for a trial like everyone else,” Williams said.

“I don’t pay any mind to those who are talking nonsense, some lawyers are taking on work but are not able to serve their clients,” said Williams.

The DPP said that he is confident that his office was doing all that is possible to have the cases in question heard and said that the prisoners were being misinformed by their lawyers.

He also said that some lawyers are taking on more work than they could chew.

“Some lawyers taking on work and are not being able to serve their clients,” Williams said.

This is also the view of Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, who at a press conference earlier this week said, “what some of those who are protesting must ask their lawyers is whether or not they were available and whether they were anxious for the cases to be heard.”

Dr Gonsalves said everything that can be done to speed up the process is being done. He pointed to the simultaneous sittings of the High Court that have been taking place and said that efforts are being made to have year-round sittings of the High Court.

“I spoke to the Chief Justice about it,” Dr Gonsalves said.

Meanwhile some of the protesting prisoners are continuing their hunger strike by not eating their full complement of meals, Superintendent of Prisons Eric Rodriguez told SEARCHLIGHT.

He however stressed that all was calm at the prison, noting that the inmates’ protest had nothing to do with prison conditions or any such thing.

However the mother of murder accused Francis Williams, 24, Wonnette Williams, told SEARCHLIGHT that when she visits her son he says that he was being mistreated.