‘Sad day’ for justice
SAD INDICTMENT on the judicial system.
That was how attorney at law Larry Smith described the long and contentious legal battle he was forced to wage on behalf of former murder accused Frank Errol Gibson who was set free, almost 11 years later, by the No. 5 Supreme Court yesterday.
And Smith wants Gibson’s case to be the start of a more harmonious working relationship between defence and prosecution teams, especially in cases where expert witnesses might be needed.
Smith was speaking to the Weekend Nation moments after Gibson, of Gall Hill, St John, who had been accused of murdering Francine Bolden between January 15 and 16, 2002, was set free because of issues surrounding the report of the man who was supposed to be the Crown’s expert witness.
The issues were pointed out in the report of the defence team’s expert witness and double-checked and verified by another expert for the Crown.
Smith, and his team which comprised Ajamu Boardi, Keren Prescott, Roosevelt White and Mawena Brathwaite, had taken Gibson’s case to the High Court’s civil and criminal jurisdictions, the Court of Appeal and the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), before it was ended up before Justice Maureen Crane-Scott yesterday.
Saying he was sad that the process had taken so long, he noted: “It is a sad indictment on our system that we had to do what we had to do and fight the matter through every court in order to get the state to be told that in order for there to be a fair trial, Gibson needed an expert in this matter.”
At the end of the day, said Smith, the extended litigation was of far greater cost to taxpayers than if both sides had sat down and reached an early agreement.
“It is our hope that arising out of this case that there will be more co-operation between the Crown and defence counsel in cases where experts are involved and that the need for the defence to have an expert is readily apparent,” Smith noted.
“We have always felt that co-operation between the Crown’s witnesses – whether on the side of the Solicitor General or as a criminal matter – that we are all lawyers, that we can sit down and, as reasonable people, work out the details in matters such as these.
“If there is, going forward, a willingness to bridge the gap and to be able to cooperate and work with each other to ensure that justice is served, then we have a system that the citizens of this country can buy into, and believe in and know that it works,” Smith stressed.