Court cases falling at first hurdle

| 06/12/2012

(CNS): A review of statistics relating to assault charges brought before the Summary Court during 2010 and 2011 reveals more than one fifth fell at the first hurdle, with cases being voluntarily stopped by the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions before trials began. In total, almost 62% of the cases over the two year period resulted in defendants being released, leaving the prosecution with a 38% conviction rate in cases of violence. Although 57 people were brought to court by the crown, it elected not to proceed against them for a variety of reasons but mostly down to a lack of evidence. Some legal professionals have said government could face significant compensation claims under Cayman’s new human rights regimen if the authorities persist in bringing unsubstantiated cases before the courts.

A close examination of the statistics relating to just this one type of offence revealed that far more cases fail than succeed and the already strained criminal justice system is being clogged up with defendants who in some cases walk free without ever facing trial as charges were laid even though there was no likelihood of a successful prosecution.

Of the 266 defendants who were charged with Actual Bodily Harm, 101 were convicted but only 25 went to jail; others received lesser punishments, from probation to being bound over for good behaviour.

With the mounting complaints from defence attorneys of the continued delays in receiving the alleged evidence against their clients, the poorly drafted indictments and the constant postponements in the courts, there are concerns that this will be the first area where government will either be going to court to defend human rights claims or paying out compensation that it can ill afford.

“The public should become increasingly concerned about the persistent non-performance of the RCIPS and Office of the DPP in circumstances where there is little or no oversight,” local defence attorney Peter Polack stated in face of what he described as alarming statistics and a dismal conviction rate. “The lives of innocent people are being adversely affected in circumstances where a large part of government revenue is being wasted by persons clearly unfit for their positions of responsibility.”

See statistical review below.

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Category: Crime

Comments (10)

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  1. the truth says:

    I have to wonder how ,as we continue to see these deplorable results, like the poster above mentioned, that would have the normal lawyer in the Cayman Islands basically railroaded out of his proffession, that not a single elected MLA or any hopefuls for that matter, have spoken up on this! Like i've said before, there needs to be more emphasis put on this by the next government ,as it crystal clear that the whole office of the DPP needs to be made redundant. If Governement were held to the same standards as the private sector these people would have been nothing more than a memory by now! My fellow Caymanians, ask yourself, when the powers that be in the private sector see such specticles like this going on in government do you think they would be looking to take a few compitent people off the governments hands and into there establishments? The answer is no! Long story short, This is a BAD BAD look for the Cayman Islands and its people.Just wait until all those who were dragged through court only to have charges dropped come out of the wood works with law suits, then maybe ONE, JUST ONE of the peoples honorable representatives (or so they call themselves) will see to it that these free loaders are shown the door! 

  2. Anonymous says:

    The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions is not fit for purpose and has not been for some considerable time now. It specialises in errors and incompetence and has been humiliated in court many many times will ill conceived prosecutions, lost evidence and mistakes of law that a junior associate in a law firm would be fired for.

  3. Anonymous says:

    To say that there is a 38% conviction rate is technically accurate, but misleading. The "no conviction recorded", "acquital" and "drug court disposal" headings all mean that guilt has been established/admitted.

    Even if you include them as convictions, you are still left with a 48% conviction rate. In England, conviction rates for offences against the person are around 75%, so there is a huge discrepancy. The problem is twofold: firstly, there is no system of alternatives to prosecution, so relatively minor cases that are not really worth prosecuting can't be dealt with by mediation, or a warning, or something similar. Secondly, the zero tolerance policy of the DPP means that there is huge pressure to prosecute very weak cases. There is no discretion given to lawyers to discontinue these cases, even if victims change their minds. This means that unmitigated tripe, which will never result in a conviction, is prosecuted. This wastes everyone's time.

    • Judge Dredd says:

      You also need to add in the juries which are drawn from such a tiny pool that there is immense pressure not to convict.

    • Anonymous says:

      Since when has acquittal meant guilty, aquitted means to be cleared ie found not guilty….

      • Anonymous says:

        Yes, you're right! I meant "absolute discharge".

      • Criminal says:

        Acquitted means that there was inadequate evidence to conclude beyond reasonable doubt that the accused was guilty.  It means nothing more.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Well, until now, the police and prosecution services and personnell have had Cayman as their own, private little ball park to play in, where they made all the rules…didn't matter whether they still lost most of the games….their rules, their game.

    That's all changed now…there's a new ref in town with a new set of rules.

    Losers, leave the field, please….and pay the penalty for losing as you go.

    But this is not some game…this is people's lives you're playing with here.

    Thank you !