Lawyer files JP complaint under new rules

| 17/07/2014

(CNS): Despite changes in the regulations relating to justices of the peace (JPs) after a warrant was thrown out of court by a local judge when the shocking disregard for law between the police and JPs was revealed, the new rules don’t appear to have helped. A local criminal defence lawyer has brought the first complaint against a JP after the issue of the new Justice of the Peace Regulations that are less than a year old. The complaint arises out of a search in November last year when RCIPS Detective Winston Harrison obtained a warrant from William I Wood JP without executing the requisite information and complaint.

Peter Polack said he received a copy of the search warrant and unsigned information from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) after he was unable to access his client’s court file. He found that the police had raided his client’s house in breach of the Criminal Procedure Code which required them to enter the premises only after sunset.

The potential serious breaches of the penal code were brought to the attention of the ODPP, the Commissioner of Police and the Chief Officer in the home affairs ministry, Eric Bush but Polack said no one has responded to his complaint or even acknowledged it. Polack has taken his grievance to the Office of the Complaints Commissioner and a formal complaint has also now been lodged with the Clerk of Court under the new Justice of the Peace Regulations and he is not waiting on the court’s response.

The Complaint has also been sent to the premier who is responsible for Home Affairs, as well as the Deputy Governor and the Attorney-General.

The lawyer is also pursuing a third complaint of allegations that his client was not allowed to witness the search which resulted in a Summary Court order on 12 June that Detective Harrison furnish a further statement on the search.

It was in June last year that local activist Sandra Catron challenged a search warrant used to sear her home and was successful in getting the search warrant thrown out by Justice Alex Henderson who noted that the Cayman Islands Government would be liable for damages in that case.

The revelations that police had been using JPs who had no knowledge of the law, the rules surrounding searches and that the JP in this case had never refused to sign a single warrant in decades revealed a complete disregard by the police for the law. Deliberately choosing JPs with no legal experience who asked no questions the issue cause something of a controversy and led to a review of the regulations and training for all JPs began January

The recurring theme on search warrants are that the Justices have acted in a manner that the RCIPS knew to be unlawful,” Polack told CNS. “But they have continued on nevertheless because there is no sanction, oversight or proceedings against officers involved in the execution of illegal search warrants outside the lawful time allowed or in the absence of parties who are the subject of the warrant and present but prevented from bearing witness to the entire search.

“The Minister of Home Affairs and his recently re-appointed Commissioner of police are all asleep at the wheel or worse, deliberately ignoring the rights of the voting public,” he added.

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Category: Crime

Comments (16)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Not that this matter is necessarily Eric Bush's responsibility but the professional decency and public duty to respond to an associated concern certainly is. Wonder why he is not being held accountable for the large number of serious issues which occur under his Portfolio (which includes HMP Northward). No surprise though, bet he belongs to that "fraternity of buddy-buddy protectionism". Instead his Department gets awards!!

    CNS it would be curious to review and list these issues over the past two or three years. Also, curious that most Department which have been recipients of Civil Service awards have glaring issues. Guess that's the Dep. Gov's way of improving the Civil Service!! What a larf!!  

     

    • Anonymous says:

      14:51, some of us know who you are. You must get over your bitterness. Success will eventually come your way if you moderate your truly unfortunate attitude.

  2. Anonymous says:

    The info for a warrant should be sent over to england for a warrant to be issued by a qualified person not connected to any of the BS on this little rock

  3. Anonymous says:

    The appointment of JPs under our current framework is a complete mockery of the ancient practice of JPs in England.  

    Such persons should at least have a law degree (no need to be a qualified attorney) so that they understand and exhibit a level of legal knowledge and intelligence in their duties.  

    Of course there are many countries that give lay JPs the power to issue warrants, but this power is limited. 

  4. Anonymous says:

    I am a JP and the truth of the matter is that many other JPs are not following the new rules.

  5. Anon says:

    JP's should not have the legal burden of signing search warrants! It is obvious that JP's are not appointed because of their legal expertise, even though some are lawyers, so why is this one of their mandated responsibilities. 

  6. Anonymous says:

    Somebody has to take them to task. Seems like Peter Polack is the only attorney that actually fights for his clients rights!

  7. MIke Hennessy says:

    This situation points to a bigger problem: the obeying of laws as a matter of convenience. We see it time and again with things like the flouting of the Freedom of Information Act, the nod and a wink attitude toward work permitting and now this. I'm surethat the attitude of the police officers involved was that they didn't have time for "technicalities". Well, whether we're in Cayman or the U.S. or anywhere else, those "technicalities" are the only guarantee of justice that we have. Sandra Catron's case shows what can happen, when people with an agenda and an attitude that it's more important to silence someone who is a pain in the collective backside can use the power of the government to advance that agenda. The next time you hear someone in law enforcement and/or the prosecutor's office grumbling about "technicalities" remember what happened to Ms. Catron. Luckily she had the knowledge and the courage to fight and win, but the next time, the ending might not be such a happy one. 

  8. Anonymous says:

    "The Minister of Home Affairs and his recently re-appointed Commissioner of police are all asleep at the wheel or worse, deliberately ignoring the rights of the voting public,” he added".

    While Mr. Polack appears to have a valid complaint it is misdirected at the Minister of Home Affairs who has no authority over the police. That is a matter for the Commissioner of Police and the Governor's Office.  

    • Anonymous says:

      No, not in his made up version of Cayman law.

    • Dread on Dread says:

      Primo  has no authority over the Police eh, well he doesn't seem to have much Authority over the Governent/Party which he supposedly leads. Temper tantrums may work on KT but not on this bunch Primo.

  9. Anonymous says:

    They are above the law nothing more or less!!

  10. Anonymous says:

    Well this should be an easy win – Sandra Catron has set the bar for suing this bunch!