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Court of Appeal to request audit of cases it returned to Supreme Court for retrial

A report from Radio Jamaica News legal analyst Dionne Jackson Miller
 
The Court of Appeal will be asking for an audit of all cases it has sent back to the Supreme Court for retrial over the last six years.
 
This was stated by presiding Judge Marva McDonald-Bishop at Monday's hearing into whether there will be a retrial in the murder case involving Vybz Kartel and three others.
 
Kartel, whose given name is Adidja Palmer; Shawn 'Shawn Storm' Campbell; Kahira Jones; and Andre St. John were convicted in March 2014 for the murder Clive 'Lizard' Williams and sentenced to life in prison a month later.
 
On March 14 this year - ten years later - the United Kingdom-based Privy Council overturned the convictions on the grounds of juror misconduct, and remitted the matter back to the Court of Appeal for a decision on whether there should be a retrial. 
 
Monday's first day of the much-anticipated hearing was taken up entirely with assessing preliminary objections from the lawyers on both sides to documents filed in court. 
 
But there were early indications as to two issues expected to be argued when the substantive arguments start on Tuesday.
 
Justice McDonald-Bishop noted that all the men raised the question as to when a retrial would take place - if that's what the Court of Appeal decides - and said the court needs guidance in this regard.
 
She said the audit will not be binding, but that the Court of Appeal cannot work in the dark as the issue of when the men would be tried again, if a retrial is ordered, is important. 
 
The Court of Appeal wants to know the status of the cases it has sent back to the Supreme Court for retrial over the last six years, and how long it's now taking trials to start.
 
She said the Privy Council sent this case back to the local Court of Appeal for decision on retrial because the local courts are supposed to know the state of the justice system.
 
With the murder of Clive 'Lizard' Williams having taken place in 2011, Adidja Palmer, Andre St. John, Shawn Campbell, and Kahira Jones have been in custody since September 30, 2011 - almost 13 years.
 
One of the other matters that was recurrent on Monday was that of the widespread publicity the case has received, both in traditional and social media. 
 
The men's lawyers are expected to argue that in these circumstances they will not be able to get a fair trial.
 


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