Thursday, April 18, 2024

Justice must be done, come rain or shine


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HUNDREDS OF BARBADIANS have been called upon over the years to serve on juries – a legal requirement and a civic duty no less. Such service is considered one of the cornerstones of our judicial system, and is not to be taken lightly.
In the execution of this most profound responsibility, there are certain requirements of conduct, among them a number of don’ts. As a juror you do not talk to your family or friends about the trial, for example. You do not visit the scene of the crime on your own. Posting or responding on s re information pertaining to any case is a clear no-no.
And, from the very start, if you know or are familiar with any of the witnesses, you let the chief juror and the presiding judge know.
The restrictions imposed on jurors may appear rigorous, but they are for the good of everyone, including the juror himself or herself, and indeed for the sustainability of the integrity of the 12-member panel.
No one could seriously suggest that being on the jury is meant to be pleasurable; it is supposed to be only your civic duty carried out with the gravity that is its nature. Without the distractions, serving as a juror in a murder case can be harrowing and stressful, with care expected to be taken in listening to the evidence so that a fair and appropriate verdict may be arrived at after several weeks of hearings.
Jurors will often hear upsetting evidence – that may have a distressing effect on them – and that is one good reason why knowing or having the slightest of connections with the witness will be disastrous for body, mind, soul and the legal system.
In other jurisdictions where mouths are allowed to run, jurors have been known to express concerns about whether they had done the right thing acquitting or convicting the defendant. After all, jurors are ordinary people. It is thus crucial that jury members pay the utmost attention to detail. And since their function is to weigh the evidence presented and decide what the facts of the case are or what actually happened, they must at all times be neutral.
One can empathize then with an upset Justice Crane-Scott who was made to preside over “an inquiry that essentially began with a simple case of one man, who could have been severed, [implicating] another, who implicated another, and then there was the possibility that misconduct had taken place”.
It is sad the accused in the Michael “Piggy” Dear murder trial must put his case all over again after all the preparation he had put into his defence. But as the learned judge rightly asked: “. . . What do you think people in society will think if they heard that one of the members of the jury was related to the key eyewitness?”
Like Malcolm X, we must be for truth, no matter who tells it; for justice, no matter who it is for or against.

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