Court martial halted
The court martial of Ordinary Seaman Raheem Reeves was halted on Friday after the judge advocate ruled that his case had been prejudiced by media reports.
Upon resumption of the hearing, which had been adjourned on Monday, the issue of published reports on information coming out of a voir dire arose.
Certain legal challenges that arise during the course of a trial are determined in a voir dire (trial within a trial).
The hearing of those legal arguments is conducted in the absence of the jurors or, in this court martial, the panel, but in each instance members of the media are also excluded from reporting on it. However, in the matter where Queen’s Counsel Michael Lashley, representing Reeves, had made an objection on Monday, the details of that objection, the rebuttal and in one instance the testimony of a witness were carried in media reports.
On Friday, Lashley cited legal precedent from local cases where the matters were stopped because of similar press reports which were deemed prejudicial. He said while there were other defects in the hearing, the matter involving the press trumped those as the reports prejudiced his client’s right to a fair trial and tainted the proceedings.
Reeves, 25, was facing two counts of neglect to the prejudice of good order and military discipline, with allegations that he failed to carry out his duty as shore police at HMBS Pelican on August 24, 2020, by not informing his superiors that a colleague admitted to being involved in a serious incident, and on August 25 not informing them that that colleague asked him to contact his parents.
The Judge Advocate, Principal Crown Counsel Krystal Delaney, agreed that Reeves’ case had been prejudiced but disagreed with defence counsel that he should not be retried.
She explained that the court martial was like any court and if the panel was withdrawn, matters dealt with in its absence should not be published. This ended up wasting the time of the Barbados Defence Force and the civilians, she stated. (AC)