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PAJ calls for balance concerning lawyers granting interviews

Press Association of Jamaica President Dionne Jackson Miller

 

The Press Association of Jamaica (PAJ) says it views with concern the current controversy around whether lawyers should give interviews and talk to the media during criminal trials in particular.

There has been an uproar in some sections of the legal fraternity over interviews being given to the media by attorneys representing incarcerated entertainer Vyb Kartel and three others in their appeal against their murder convictions.

Following calls for the General Legal Council to intervene to stop the practice, the Council issued a statement expressing deep concern about the actions of the attorneys. 

It said statements concerning pending judicial proceedings which may have the effect of influencing the outcome of proceedings constitute an interference with the administration of justice and as such is punishable as a contempt of court.

Reacting to the GLC, the PAJ said it is well aware of the critical importance of ensuring that the constitutional right of the accused to a fair trial is maintained, but points out that other rights are engaged here, including the right to freedom of expression, and the right of the public to seek and receive information.

PAJ President Dionne Jackson Miller said the warning issued by the GLC could impact negatively on media practitioners covering court cases.

She acknowledged the special need for caution with jury trials, in particular, and the need for general restraint in the interest of justice.

However, the PAJ head believes that the approach should not be one of avoiding interaction with the media, but rather, encouraging more care and responsibility in public pronouncements.



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