There has been lingering complaints and whisperings on verandas, rum bars, hair dressing parlours and among friends regarding the conduct of some of our judges and magistrates. We are reluctant on most occasions to be critical of them due to the perception that criticizing these dudes will be seen as interfering with the administration of justice. Very few of us want to be seen by the public at large as tampering
with the sacred halls of justice. Alas! There is nothing sacrosanct about these individuals … they serve us and as thus are accountable to us. They are our servants, not our masters. In India, for example cows are considered sacred if not worshipped. Good for them … but we do not hold Judges up as if “holy cows” and as such see them as mere mortals despite their importance to society.
Milk like any one of us is not above the law, but in our perspective, for the law to be respected, everyone of us must feel or appear to have gotten a fair shake. We, however, are further of the view that justice should not only be done, but appear to have been manifestly done. We will not accept anything short of that aged old principle and Milk does not deserve anything else. Justice should be balanced and colour blind.
Simone Wolfe Reece
You will recall our posting “Of Wolves in sheep clothing” the case of the Reverend Al Miller was highlighted. The reverend was sentenced by Parish court judge Simone Wolfe Reece. Her conduct in this landmark case raised eyebrows. She found Rev. Al Miller guilty of perverting the course of justice. In sentencing Miller the learned judge Mrs. Wolfe Reece chose to find Miller close to a million Jamaican dollars even when there was irrefutable evidence, based on the facts ventilated in open court, as in the public domain, that he (Miller) was trying to get Christopher “Dudus” Coke who was on the run, to surrender to the US authorities/embassy. It was widely felt that this verdict was either flawed or suspect. It was in certain quarters strongly felt that her verdict could have been politically motivated. It should be noted that we have no hard evidence to back up our suspicion. Miller et al has promised to appeal the controversial verdict, which is their right.
There has been suspicion that many verdicts are either flawed or bordering on fraud. Reports that the FBI is probing what appears to be an unfair if not grossly excessive sentence handed down to Milk is significant, for just a mere parole violation is disturbing. We will not condone the violation of any laws, whether it be regulations, or parole … justice, in our view, must be tempered with mercy. The sentence must relate to the crime or infraction committed.
Parole violation should not be taken likely … in our view it can be seen as a gross violation of courtesy extended. A serious betrayal of trust. When a convict who is seen to have been rehabilitated and a Parole Board decides that say Milk is a fit person to be favourably considered to be let back into the wider society … to violate this trust should not be taken lightly. The confidence placed in a supposedly rehabilitated inmate is quite a judgment call which can backfire. A released inmate who is on parole has to be aware that he or she is under supervision and should act accordingly. You are not fully free … it is a little more than a half way house.
We are delighted that the FBI is on the case and other Judges who may be tempted to go off on a frolic of their own will think twice. They will realize or be reminded that they are not above the law or untouchables.
No one is above the law … whether a pauper or the president of the United States of America. President Richard Nixon left office in disgrace due to suspicion of wrongdoing.
What is your perspective? This is ours.
Hopeton O’Connor-Dennie is Senior International Correspondent & photojournalist for Vision Newspaper.