Legal doyen tells top cop to apologise to judge

| 10/09/2011

(CNS): One of the most respected members of the local legal profession has called on the police commissioner to apologise for comments made in the wake of a recent murder trial. Ramon Alberga QC, who although retired is still considered as the doyen of the Cayman legal fraternity, said in a letter (attached below) to the press that David Baines’ remarks that the acquittal of Devon Anglin “was a desperate day for justice for the Cayman Islands” were unwarranted and inappropriate. Alberga writes that a review of Justice Howard Cooke’s judgment reveals that he understood the issues and applied the proper principles and was obliged as a matter of law to acquit the defendant. Had he not, Alberga says, then it would have been a “desperate day for justice in the Cayman Islands”.

In his letter Alberga points out that when a judge disregards cogent evidence and reaches what is a perverse and dishonest verdict or when he blatantly disregards established legal principles, then that would be a desperate day for justice. Justice Cooke’s ruling, however, did not fall in either category, Alberga wrote, adding that the commissioner was “completely out of order” to describe the judge’s decision the way he did.

Acknowledging Baines’ right to request that the director of prosecutions conduct a review and determine if there were grounds for appeal, the leading QC said that he had no right to be “offensive and make insulting inflammatory statements” about the judgement.

See the full letter below.

Category: Local News

Comments (49)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    What is the difference between the Commissioner appealing the Judge's decision (albeit publically) and a Lawyer doing the same on behalf of his client?

    Obviously what is sauce for the goose is NOT sauce for the gander!

    • Anonymous says:

      Oh dear. You have missed the whole point. The Commissioner's statement does not constitute an "appeal". Appeals are based on purported errors in law that a judge has made. The commissioner's comments were an emotional outburst that might tend to bring the judiciary into disrepute. It is tantamount to saying that the judge was incompetent or biassed.      

  2. Anonymous says:

    Don’t back down commissioner your comments suggest that you are human, and not just someone programmed to say and do what you were thought. I can tell you with confidence that you have the support of the majority. I’m personally very impressed with your comments and so are many others. More power to the police, don’t criticize what you wouldn’t do for a living.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I would like to receive some clarification on a issue that maybe someone else on this blog can provide.

    I have been told that in the Governments legal dept a case isn't decided to one attorney from beginning to end. Basically, whoever the attorney is that is assigned to go to court that day picks up the file of the person on trial that day.

    Is that true? Can someone explain how the gov's legal dept is organized?

  4. R.U. Kiddin says:

    When I read the first line of this article and saw, "respected members of the local legal profession", I lost interest.

  5. Anonymous says:

    At the end of the day, there is clearly a breakdown between the work the police does and the work the justice department (Crown Counsel or whatever) does. The statistic of amount of people who were charged with some crime and walk free is appalling.

    Instead of all these people focusing their energy and heat of what Mr. Baines has said and whether it was right or wrong, I wished people (including Mr. Alberga) would focus their time and energy on fixing that broken link to ensure a better way forward.

    I am no fan of the RCIP and/or Mr. Baines, but I can imagine that they also must get fed up with putting their head on the line just to have the cases either dragging on forever or being dismisses.

    Also, my understanding is that a case is not seen through by the same person from the justice dept from beginning to end. Is that correct?

    • Anonymous says:

      Imagine the innocent men in jail awaiting trial? A lot of these cases are so slack that you have to wonder whether the police are arresting innocent people!

      • Anonymous says:

        Since they are all innocent, let’s set them all free and close the jail.  We could save Government money, some 50 to 60 thousand $$ per inmate, per year. Close the RCIP, since according to you they don't/didn't do anything right anyway, close the court house as they can't get a conviction for anything meaningful, because they don't receive good evidence. Wow! I think I have solved all our human rights issues and pulled Cayman out of the economic downturn. I'm Brilliant!

        • Anonymous says:

          Sorry to burst your bubble, but you're not so brilliant.  Convicting people on suspicion is not the way to go about doing things…  unless of course you work for the RCIPS or the Legal Department and you think that there should be no standard of proof.

      • Anonymous says:

        I didn't think it was for the police to make the decision whether someone is innocent or not and this was the job of crown counsel and the judge. Problem is that a lot of those cases are dragging on for so long that witness move off Island, forget and everyone looses interest in the case. Why does the legal system allow for someone to stay in jail for so long without a trial case? Don't think this has anything to do with the police. Crown Counsel obviously found something to charge the man with, so it wasn't police who innocently put him in jail.

        • Anonymous says:

          It doesn't take much to charge someone!!! For example I could say you shot me and you would be arrested and charged!! 

        • Anonymous says:

          Well if you tell the truth and don't lie then even 5 years down the line the story would be the same. When you lie now you can't remember. You can basically charge someone with hear say down here. Hear say doesn't convict though. 

  6. Anonymous says:

    The police chief is not a lawyer, nor a party to the proceedings, nor was he in court. "Contempt" seems highly unlikely and the handwringing unwarranted.

    • Anonymous says:

      Does the Police Chief need to be a lawyer, or simply have enough training in the law to know what to do?

    • Anonymous says:

      You would do well to learn the definition of "Contempt of Court"

  7. Anonymous says:

    In the United State the prosecutor and his assistance investigate the major crimes like murder and they interview the witness and put together the case files, but in the Cayman Island the police do all of the investigations and prepare the case file and the prosecutor present that file in court and is basically reading from it.  May be if the prosecutor and his assistance were to actually do the investigation and prepare there owned file with the assistance of the police, may be they would fare better off in court and actually get some convictions, and I am sure there salaries are much more generous than the police.

    • Anonymous says:

      This would make more sense!! They would also know what needs to be thrown out!! 

      • Anonymous says:

        The legal dept is just as useless as the police at times. There are too many times cases where the police have failed miserably to get any evidence to send a case to court but some how the legal department still tells them take it to court and then the prosecutor has to fumble through a hearing where there is no evidence and no way he can win the case. This is just a ploy by the police to keep their numbers up for cases taken to court. There are so many instances of incidents with witnesses for the accused and they dont even bother to find them and interview them. They just push ahead with charges. They are ridiculous and wasting public funds.

         

         

    • maverick.(yes really) says:

      No, I completely disagree. The whole purpose of the prosecutor is to establish if the case/file submitted by police is complete and suitable for charging and court time. The legal dept. 'shadow charge' all files here, and make charging decisions. THEY hold almost all of the responsibility of the terrible performance of the judicial system in court. It is not down to the police solely, but down to the legal departments' failure to insist on good quality files and evidence.

      • Anonymous says:

        But the average police officer is not a prosecutor.  I highly doubt that the average police officer, preparing a case file, has the expertise to prepare it in such a way to win a prosecution.

        Furthermore, I have a relative in the police force and he has to write up and type his own reports on his computer at home in his spare time.  Time left over from dealing with his wife, children, house, car etc once he is fininshed with work.

        Common sense would dictate that the department should have proper clerical help to prepare those reports with input from the officer.  That way the files are prepared properly and in such a manner that the guilty can be convicted.

         

    • Dennie Warren Jr. says:

      If only you had not mentioned "In the United States"…  Since it would appear that the British is following the Americans, it will most likely not happen now, but I agree with you.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Truly well saidCounsel, time alone will tell if the apology will be tendered.

     

  9. Anonymous says:

    Please, will some kind person, intimately  familiar with the workings of the legal system here, explain how a murder case can make its way past the scrutiny of the Crown Prosecutor's office, apparently with a large target painted on it for the defence's convenience, in the form of inconsistent, yet  pivotal verbal evidence?

    Perhaps my perception of what happened to force the good judge to throw out the murder case is somewhat facile, but that is how it looks to an outsider, like me, reading the popular press. The question is, who dropped the ball?  I, and many others I'm sure, would love to read an informed and unbiased response to this quite simple question.

    • Bueller says:

      The buck clearly rests with the Director of Public Prosections. There needs to be a full inquiry into all of the recent aquittals, and specifically the decisions to prosecute (on what proved to be flimsy evidence in many cases). Unfortunately, it seems that no-one is willing to make what is clearly a difficult decision.

      • Anonymous says:

        I agree!!! Why go to trial with filmsly evidence?? A complete waste of time!!!

  10. Dennie Warren Jr. says:

    Commissioner Baines, maybe ignoring the law[1] where you are from is acceptable to some, but such a view is disrespectful to all those, including right thinking Caymanians, who fought to achieve the degree of freedom we currently have today and the rule of law.  Most of the Cayman Islands share your goal to lock up lawbreakers, but you must do so lawfully sir.  We do not need or want another Tempura-like scandal here.

     

    [1]: "UK riots: magistrates told 'ignore the rule book' and lock up looters", by John-Paul Ford Rojas, 10:09PM BST 15 Aug 2011, telegraph.co.uk

     

    • Like It Is says:

      Although some, including Mr. Warren, advocate the chance of have a go at shooting them dead first, which would I suppose reduce the risk of a bad trial result.

    • Fed Up says:

      Dennie,

       

      To be honest people are tired and fedup up of hearing about your "issues" with the police. You need to just suck it up and move on with life. I have a firearm license and when the Police come to my house and ask to see my firearm and safe etc I have no issues. I also have no issues with letting them in whenever they come. I understand your issues with the technical points but when one considers the level of gun crimes here and the crimewave that we are experiencing, I am happy to be cooperative in order to help them ensure my firearm is safe. 

      In the case above, it is clear the Comissioner expressed his personal feelings and perhaps those words were uncalled for, but I am also sure that when he considers the what went wrong, his opinion matches the opinion of most of the public. 

      Dennie,please remember the victim here was a 4 year old boy! We should be fighting to get justice for him, and allowing personal dislikes for the comissioner to spill over into this case is just as bad as the comissioner allowing his personal feelings to spill over. 

       

      • Anonymous says:

        I agree the victim was a 4 year old boy! BUT it is clear that the accused was and is innocent!!! The own prosecution's evidence showed and proved that!!! Stop making this only about a little boy dying regardless who died fair is fair!!!! Justice has been served!! An innocent man has been found not guilty!! Don't be upset the Judge did the right thing! The police should have reviewed the evidence thoroughly first before filing charges and seen that it didn't make sense so they could have caught the right guy! Im sick of everyone in a uproar over the verdict when it is clear why he was acquitted!!  

        • Anonymous says:

          The finding of not guilty does not constitute a finding of innocence. It simply says that evidence presented by prosecution did not prove defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

          • Anonymous says:

            LOL!  Agree but in this instance it did. The two eye witnesses testimonies contradicting each other definitely proved the defndant's innocence! 

            • Anonymous says:

              It doesn't matter whether you agree or not. I am simply stating the law. No lawyer would disagree with me. The differences in the eyewitness testimony can not in any way, shape or form prove the accused's innocence. What it did was to introduce reasonable doubt as to his guilt. The differences in their testimony do not erase the fact that the accused was seen by others in the getaway car, had gunpowder residue on his clothing and had a shower in a residence near to his own home where he changed his clothes.      

          • Anonymous says:

            Ummh, actually you're wrong.   He was found not guilty – in other words innocent of the crime.  He was not found possibly guilty but not 100% guilty…he was found NOT guilty.  Got it yet or you need me to spell it out furtherfor you?

            • Anonymous says:

              Learn the law before you comment.  Not guilty doesn't mean he is innocent – as the previous poster said, there was insufficient evidence to convict which doesn't mean the defendant is innocent. 

            • Anonymous says:

              You are hilarious. You are obviously a non-lawyer attempting, with great arrogance, to lecture a lawyer of 22 years experience about the meaning of a "not guilty" finding by a court. Let me break it down for you. The standard of proof in a criminal case is proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Even if the evidence presented suggested that it was more likely than not that the accused committed the crime it will not be sufficient to convict him and will result in a "not guilty" finding. While there are certainly many cases where the accused is indeed innocent and obtains a "not guilty" verdict, the "not guilty" verdict, of itself, does not mean that he is innocent. It means simply that the prosecution did not prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. I am not expressing an opinion about the innocence or not of this accused. I am simply explaining the law. Got it yet?  

      • Dennie Warren Jr. says:

        Firstly, regarding my “issues” with the Commissioner of Police.
        I hope that you are simply unaware that my concern with the Commissioner of Police is only about the rule of law, and not about any personal dislike for the person in that office.  My concern with the Commissioner ofPolice is not “technical points,” but is what I and some good lawyers consider to be his blatant disregard for certain laws.  However, this matter is still before the court, so I will not be arguing it here.

        Sucking it up and moving on with life is what those brainwashed by their colonial masters do.  It is one of the reasons why the Cayman Islands are where it is today.  Dennie Warren Jr. vs. All CI Lawbreakers is a position I could live with.

        Secondly, regarding: “… a desperate day for justice for the Cayman Islands.”
        Cayman’s love affair with lawlessness is very troubling.  You appear to be allowing your emotions for a truly innocent young boy to cloud your judgment by supporting those who are attacking the rule of law.  Are you suggesting that the judge should break the law, because that is what some people wanted him to do?  If yes, how does that differ from those who told the UK magistrates to: “ignore the rule book' and lock up looters"?  No thank you, but I prefer order.  Unlawfulness done by the state is still unlawfulness.

        This post is only about the rule of law, not who killed the young boy.  

        Regarding what you would allow the police to do on your private property and inside you private dwelling is your choice.  When your rights to firearms have all been taken away, you will remember this discussion.  There is much I can say on this point, but again this matter is still before the court.

        Finally, one of the main reasons why rational individuals enter into the social contract is because the polity has agreed to maintain an ordered society, and reject lawlessness.  In fact, the current levels of crime being experienced in the Cayman Islands today is one way this polity is paying dearly for supporting lawlessness.  Without support for the rule of law, current and future generations will suffer unnecessarily.

        • Fed Up says:

          Dennie,

          You really didnt read my post. I simply said that people are tired of hearing about your issues with the Comissioner. I never said anything about the rule of law. I am simply saying suck it up, because desperate times call for desperate actions. If the Comissioner feels it is necessary to come knock on my door and check on my firearm, I will gladly invite him in, offer him something to drink, and even make a few coments on what I think can be done to help curb crime here in Cayman. Sometimes we all need to suck it up and support those who are here trying to do a thankless job. 

          Remember this! the criminals do not play by the rules…give the comissoner a break and let him do his job. 

          PS My License was renewed without incident.

           

          • Dennie Warren Jr. says:

            Re: “I never said anything about the rule of law.”

            Trust me, I read your post, but this discussion is not about anything you said; it is instead about what I originally said concerning the rule of law.  In the UK, could a Chief of Police make such public statements about a judge?

            I repeat, my matter is still before the court and I will not be arguing it here.  You clearly want to change the focus of my original post from the rule of law.  Are you fed up with the rule of law?
             

      • Anonymous says:

        The law is not about a matter of personal feelings. It's about the law.

        Can we get past the 4-year-old and deal with the content of this letter? This letter is about the wrongful statements of a Commissioner of Police to a Grand Court Judge. And the letter is written by a Queen's Counsel.

        I would say, that of all the postings on this website about this matter, this letter should hold the most weight.

        The letter was not about guilt or innocence. It was about the Commissioner and his interruption of the legal service.

        Let's stop pretending that the Commissioner wasn't wrong for our own personal opinions and accept that he was. Only then will we begin to see the true weight of this letter.

        And if we can sit by and let the police take attack at our Grand Court Judges, then let's do as advised: dismantle our judicial system.

  11. Gyyupa says:

    Quite often the guilty walk free. It is the price for high standard of proof required in criminal trials.

  12. AnonymousSick and Tired of the B...S... says:

    I hate to say “I told you so”, but at the time of the Commissioner’s comments, shown CITN News, I posted a blog in which I suggested that Baines was walking the thin line of “Contempt of Court”. I am amazed that nothing has previously been said until this intervention by Ramon, whose own comments I thoroughly endorse.

  13. Ironshore says:

    I do agree with what QC Alberga has said, but in this instance I see the Commissioner of Police as, a drown man grasping for a straw.  So the shock of the police losing this case has taken its toll.  But who is to blame? "The investigating officers, Who else".. and that is because we have these officers who cannot take proper statements to make a case in court.  Of course the Judge is not to blame, even if he has it in his mind that the defendant was guilty; he had to go by the evidence presented to him.

    From the time I read that the evidence of the Father and Mother was different, I know the case was out the door.  So it is the question asked, "Who investigated?' who took their statements, didn,t these officers have enough commonsence to see they were telling different stories.?  Why put the two of them on the stand.  Obviously the police did not have a day with the witnesses before the court day to determine what they were going to say.  They went in there so eager to get Anglin convisted, that they made a down right fool of the Case, and as for the investigating officers They need training.  We need a commissioner of police from the Caribbean.  Tough no nonsence Top Cop.

    • Anonymous says:

      Did you also not read that same judge complimented the investigator on his work and that investigator appeared to be convince as to the guilt of the accused?  Did I read something wrong?

      • Anonymous says:

        Yes he complimented the Investigator on his job! All fine and dandy! BUT not because the investigator did a good job means that it automatically qualifies the Judge to give a Guilty verdict!!! The evidence presented by the Crown proved the denfendant's innocence!! The investigator can be as convinced as he likes but the truth of the matter is that there is no way a Guilty verdict could have been given with such contradiciting evidence being presented by the Prosecution!!! People need to understand the law! It doesn't take much to charge someone!! It takes A LOT to convict them!!!!!