DPP not cops’ rubber stamp

| 02/07/2014

(CNS): The director of public prosecutions has defended the independence of her office in the face of criticisms that corruption offences are not being vigorously pursued by the crown’s prosecutors. Cheryll Richards, QC, said that the office is “not a rubber stamp for the actions or beliefs” of the police service and was created under the constitution as an independent entity. Richards insisted that all cases submitted for consideration to the office are considered on the basis of independent and professional judgment exercised by the government employed lawyers. She pointed to the successful prosecution over the last 14 months of four public officials under the Anti-Corruption Law and the Penal Code.

In a statement released Wednesday, Richards responded to criticisms in the local media after the struggles of the Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) were reveal on Cayman News Service Monday and reported in the Cayman (formerly the Caymanian) Compass Wednesday. Commenters on CNS also raised significant concerns about the public prosecutor’s office as well as tabout he government’s commitment to the spirit of anti-corruption.

But Richards said that just because the office had rejected five files submitted by the specialist unit, that did not mean that it was refusing to take cases forward.

“However strongly an investigator may feel about the merits of the case he has submitted for ruling, it remains the sole responsibility of this Office to objectively determine whether the material presented passes the evidential test, i.e. that there is a realistic prospect of conviction if the evidence is produced to a reasonable tribunal and that the case merits prosecution in the public interest,” she said. “An investigator’s sentiment about the quality of his investigation is irrelevant. What matters is the evidence that is presented for review and whether that evidence can prove all the legal elements of a particular charge under any law.”

Richards dismissed the idea that the office was dragging its feet where corruption is concerned and said it was about a legal test correctly undertaken by lawyers trained to make such decisions. She said this applied across the 2,321 cases received from all law enforcement agencies for review during the financial year ending 30 June 2014.

“This Office does not refuse to take forward any case where the evidential and public interest tests are met,” she added.

However, some of the decisions made by the DPP have been criticized as cases that appear to have significant evidence have been rejected as not meeting the public interest test. An  allegation of assault against a senior police officer on a junior officer with independent civilian witnesses was rejected by the DPP, while it approved the prosecution of a local lawyer over a trace element of cocaine that experts said defied the ability to measure and was thrown out by the court.

Judges have also criticized public prosecutors in open court for bringing cases with almost no evidence or without any complainants as well as some of the plea bargains accepted by the crown, which has given rise to concerns over the inconsistency of decisions made by the office.

Nevertheless, the DPP stated that all decisions in the office are made on the basis of objective professional judgment. Richards also said that when a determination is made that there is insufficient evidence in a case, written reasons are provided to the police and in some cases a second opinion is obtained. She said the RCIPS is generally advised that if new evidence comes to light cases can be revisited.

“This approach is taken for all types of cases, including firearms and murders where the evidence is insufficient and the cases require further investigation,” Richards stated. “It is then a matter for the police to determine whether there are other avenues of investigation which may be utilised to secure the required evidence.”

She said that in a number of instances further investigations have resulted in successful prosecutions when the files were resubmitted. 

“Any implication that the Office should be proceeding with a case because it is an 'anti-corruption case', even where the evidence is simply insufficient to do so, would be patently contrary to the rule of law and inimical to the interests of the innocent, who we also have a duty to protect,” Richards added.

See DPP's full statement below.

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Category: Crime

Comments (30)

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  1. UHUHUH says:

    Q.C.? Why? 

  2. Anonymous says:

    Ms. Cheryll Richards QC is one of the best prosecutors in the Cayman Islands since Justice Anthony Smellie QC, when he was senior crown counsel back inthe 1980's – 90's.

    The problem is, "If the evidence dosen't fit, the jury or judge will acquitt". 

    You can blame Ms.Richards for not wanting to prosecute many of these cases; when the evidence gathered by the police is weak, baseless and leaking with holes like a kitchen strainer.  

    • Anonymous says:

      But we can blame her if she brings prosecutions without sufficient evidence to support the charges. 

  3. Anonymous says:

    Maybe I don't understand the job or workings of the police department but they seem to have some major issues.  Murders and robberies are constantly unsolved and the law on the road may as well not exist.  Then on top of this, the criminals they do seem to find they either completely mess up the evidence or have no evidence to prosecute on.  Are these guys trained at all?

  4. Anonymous says:

    The DPP must be free to make all decisons on whether or not to prosecute.  that does NOT however mean there should not be checks and balances built in.  There must be an oversight committee or board that has the power to look into relevant matters.   without it bias, incompetence, slackness or even corruption can creep in.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Well at least they are taking full responsiblity for their own incompetence!

     

  6. Anonymous says:

    They too bust trying to get Sandra Catron…LOL

  7. Anonymous says:

    This is laughable to say the least! You all pick and choose who you want to go after. This is a proven fact (the poor teacher who was persued through all means, even the appeals court for imeasurable traces of marijuana, the lawyer as of late, several young men who had firearms cases with imaginary evidence were persued for years in some instances only to be dismissed)!

    There is no faith in your office, of you for that matter,NONE, we dont believe you, just cant quite understand how you still run that ship! But after hearing of all these government debacles in respects to hiring and firing i'm not surprised.

  8. Anonymous says:

    "What matters is the evidence that is presented for review and whether that evidence can prove all the legal elements of a particular charge under any law."

    This should not be about race or nationality but about the LAW.  What stands out to me from reading these comments are blatant envy and prejudice.  Until you have walked a mile in the post of the DPP, stop criticising and try to do something to fix the source of the problem; the office of the DDP is a good as the evidence presented to it.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Sometimes it is better to not say anything, and ignore the spineless colleagues who egg you on. Had they done their part, the ACC and her would have a better piece of legislation to work with.

    She didn't get criticised by the ACC; she only had a media entity put their spin on the statisitics.

    She should talk to her counterpart in Jamaica, Paula Llewellyn, about the many public lashings she took from Greg Christie when he was Contractor General. 

    And finally, try to grow some skin – forheaven's sake!

     

  10. Anonymous says:

    Ms Richards is a dedicated professional who, unlike some other high-ranking legal officers here, is well-respected within legal circles. She should not be placed in the position of having to appease a baying mob which clearly doesn't  even understand her role.

    As anyone bothering to read it has to agree, her statement is clear and helpful (although I agree she might have explained too how the public interest test is applied: that does seem a bit opaque, to thinking people as well as the baying mob).

    As Ms Richards says, one of her jobs is to assess the quality of the police evidence to determine whether it is robust enough to stand a good chance of success in court. If she doesn't think it is, then it's a waste of time and money bringing a matter to trial, and the mob would rightly be baying again about the loss of 'taxpayers' money'.

    The main issue then is the quality of the evidence in the cases she's being handed, not her decision not to prosecute. I prefer to see a handful of successful prosecutions rather than scores of unsuccessful ones. That would be cause for some really justified baying.

     

    • Diogenes says:

      Start baying then.  How many cases that collapse due to lack of evidence do you need to see? 

  11. The Janitor says:

    Ms. Richards hire more staff and get on with it. Corruption is rampant and is ruining the way of lives and cayman's reputation as a place to come, live, work and bank their money.

    • Anonymous says:

      "Hire more staff"……and then blame it on the PMFL like Ezzard and these fools have been doing everytime the civil service increases in size because they want some new services-more teachers, more firemen, more immigration officers, more policemen, more investigators of corruption etc etc.Totally sickening. Only in Cayman.

  12. Anonymous says:

    The Cayman Islands is to responsibility what the Bermuda Triangle is to aircraft.

  13. Anonymous says:

    I would love to know what the "Public Interest" test is.  Isn't charging any criminal for corruptionor any other matter in public interest?  

  14. ANON says:

    Quasi-Clueless! 

  15. Anonymous says:

    She expects us to believe her? Yawn. 

  16. Shirley Smart says:

    Did the Director say there were 4 successful prosecutions over the last 14 months of public officials?  Did she say that there were  2,321 cases received from all law enforcement agencies for review during the financial year ending 30 June 2014.  Were these corruption cases?  If so, that is an astounding number of non-convictions.  That's less than 1 conviction every 500 cases.
    Something isn't right.

    • Anonymous says:

      The phrase "all law enforcement agencies" should give you a hint. That would include the different departments within RCIP, Immigration, Customs, and so on. Corruption cases come purely from the ACC it would seem.

      • Knot S Smart says:

        Please ignore Shirley Smart – she is not  so smart…

        • Shirley Smart says:

          Daddy, you said you wouldn't make that comment!  If I'm not smart, I got it from you.

  17. Anonymous says:

    It's not exactly comforting to know that the DDP and the ACU are basically engaged in a media battle.

    These two important entities would do better to put egos aside and actually work together against corruption by cross training and sharing experiences to ensure effective evidence gathering and prosecution- that is what's in the public's interest! 

     

     

  18. Anonymous says:

    Does the office of the DPP have a view on the allegations of corruption relating to the Cabinet Status grants? I mean, why would it be that persons with no apparent connection to the Cayman Islands or short term residence became Caymanian overnight? just askin.

    • Anonymous says:

      Where there is smoke there is fire.  Watch out!

      • Anonymous says:

        Oh, I can see the fire. It is widespread and has been burning for 10 years, and yet the police and others seem to see nothing. Meanwhile my country burns.

        • Anonymous says:

          Yessiree. Widespread overt and blatant corruption and they do nothing. The people in charge seem to care nothing for Cayman.

        • Anonymous says:

          Go on and play us the self-pity sonata on your fiddle, you are an expert at that.

        • Anonymous says:

          Yet what have you done about it?

          Voted for the next l'il perk or favour whilst waiting for someone to come and fix it for you?

           

    • Anonymous says:

      Please learn to spell!