Lost Public Confidence — the case of the ODPP

| 04/07/2014

I imagine that a number of good workers can be found among the many that work at the Office of the Director of Prosecutions (ODPP) – this Viewpoint is not about them. If anything, I hope it articulates their feelings that they’re unable to personally express. This Viewpoint is about those who work at the ODPP who collect a good paycheque in return for poor work, and those who instead of furthering the cause of justice impede it due to their undeserving, giant egos.

My personal experience with the former Department of Legal Services, now the ODPP, is that they are woefully disorganized, reckless, wasteful, unfocused, far too often wrong, and in way over their heads. They are usually stubborn when it comes to cases where it makes no sense for them to be so willfully obstinate and laissez-faire about cases where prosecution ought to be vigorously pursued. Far too often, as in my case and numerous others, they persecute instead of prosecute. Where common sense dictates that a person is innocent, they purposefully ignore the obvious, or often fail to recognize it. 

Voltaire’s famous quote “Common sense is not so Common” must be without a doubt the ODPP’s most oft used screen saver, followed closely by “Appearance must always trump Substance” – apparently, one of the greater deciding factors as to whether or not a case is pursued. The claim that each case is carefully scrutinized is laughable at best – it ought to read that the law is applied willy-nilly, depending on the day of the week, and in which direction the wind so happens to blow. 

In my case (for those unfamiliar with it) the Legal Department, in one of their more brilliant moments, wasted 21 Summary Court sessions, 8 Grand Court Sessions and 4 Cayman Island Court of Appeal Sessions over a matter of 0.004 oz of ganja (including tobacco) that did not belong to me. This, despite that 99.9% of the evidence pointed to my innocence. As some of you may recall, the ganja spliff was half smoked – if it belonged to me, as they claimed, it would have shown up in my urine test, it would have contained my DNA, etc. My urine test did not contain drugs, I was not a contributor to the DNA found on the half-smoked spliff, there was no motive for me to carry a half-smoked spliff given that I was not a ganja smoker (I was not about to gain millions of dollars by trafficking 0.004 oz of ganja into the United States), my explanation remained the same from the beginning to the end, etc. 

At the time, my case was being pursued at all cost while many other cases involving far more serious charges were being routinely lost and dismissed in the Cayman Islands Summary and Grand Court. For example, between 2005 and 2010, a total of 38 cases of possession of an unlicensed firearm were dismissed in the Cayman Islands Summary Court and Grand Court.  In August 2010, the Cayman Island Court of Appeal castigated the crown for appearing unprepared in front of the court – the case involved a firearm. One can only wonder what may have happened if the crown had devoted more time to their more important cases. 

There are some commentators who defended Director of Prosecutions Cheryll Richards’ and the ODPP’s appalling record by claiming that the RCIPS provide the ODPP with poor, sloppy, unworkable evidence. My suggestion is that they stop pursuing those cases where the evidence does not exist to convict, no matter how badly they’re itching to get their suspect. Innocent people, and there are a few among the many guilty, should not fall prey to the ODPP's convict-at-all-cost, even if there is not evidence, mentality. More importantly, I would suggest that Ms Richards use her position and influenceto demand and bring about better work by some of her staff and some of the police.

I could write a few more pages on this matter, but I don’t have the time, or the interest. Besides, most readers understand the problem. The fact of the matter is that the ODPP suffers from any number of maladies as a result of a lack of leadership, a lack of focus, and poor choices that they continue to make, etc. Perhaps one commentator sums up the problem best:

“They too bust trying to get Sandra Catron…LOL”

This Viewpoint is in repsonse to an article on CNS: DPP not cops' rubber stamp

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Whats the PPM's and the Deputy Governor, hell even the Governor's take on all this. Seem like a bunch of mutes to me.

    Next election get some young folks in there. The current MLA members have all been in Government or at least most of them have been in poliTRICKS for the last decade trading favors for favors. Same old same old produces SAME OLD SAME OLD!

  2. The Janitor says:

    We complain and nothing gets done. 13 burglaries just this weekend  and guess what they will not be caught or they will be caught then place on bail.

    Criminals have more rights than a law abiding citizens

  3. Anonymous says:

    No surprises here.  Both the Attorney General and the Director of Prosecutions are mediocre attorneys at best. 

  4. Anonymous says:

    Hear Hear!


    Enough with the spineless DPP – and AG and CG for that matter!


    The country deserves better than what these individuals have done (or not done) in their positions of immense power and influence. 



  5. Anonymous says:

    Guess solution will be to give out more status grants that way tehy can be called Caymanian.


    As long as we have the type of MLAs we keep electing and a Deputy Governor who refuses to take action, start with the top and start demanding better performance, things will simply get worse and the perception will continue that all legal offices in the CIG, staffed by foreign nationals who appear determined to go after certain Caymanians.

    We're a BOTC and our civil service legal service, complaints commissioner's office all run by expats.


    What a stinking mess!

    • Anonymous says:

      You know that if the status grants were illegal as some suggest, no one became Caymanian as a result. Does anyone remember who it was that said they were legal?