DPP Urges Prosecutors to Remain Committed to Ethics


Director of Public Prosecutions, (DPP), Paula Llewellyn, has said that prosecutors must remain committed to prosecutorial ethics and evidence and not bow to public sentiments.
“Prosecutors in the 21st Century have to be aware that their role is a delicate act, where they have to be sensitive to public interest while maintaining their independence in decision making. At the same time, ones decision cannot be driven by sympathy, prejudices, and public sentiments or talk show host opinion, but by prosecutorial ethics, fairness and courage and of course, when you are prosecuting any matter, by the actual evidence that is available. This demands that the decision to prosecute has to be taken within the context of all the available evidence and the relevant law,” she stated.
The DPP was speaking at the 17th Annual Faculty of Medical Sciences Research Conference, held recently at the University Hospital of the West Indies, Kingston, where she focussed on forensic medicine in criminal justice and the role of the prosecutor.
According to Ms. Llewellyn, while the role of the prosecutor’s duty is to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt, evidence that can be used to exonerate the accused must not be ignored. “If it comes to our attention and if we have the evidence in our possession that for example, DNA evidence is available, that will totally exonerate an accused person. we have the duties of disclosure. So before we actually come to try the case, we have to disclose all the available materials and if it totally exonerates the accused, then we would have to offer no evidence against that accused person, irrespective of what our particular thinking on the matter may be,” she stated.
Turning to the usefulness of forensic medicine in the criminal justice arena, DPP Llewellyn said that this has proven to be useful in Jamaican jurisprudence, citing the Michael Pringle case in 1996, and the Mary Lynch case. She noted however, that the scientist is not allowed in law to categorically tell the jury that the DNA profile is that of the accused.
“For example, in the Mary Lynch case, when the remnants of the jaw bone showed that, that was the man and we were able to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt. The Pringle case for instance indicates that the scientist…whether the doctor or the consultant forensic pathologist or the DNA expert is not allowed in law to tell the jury that ‘this DNA profile that I did says conclusively that it is the accused’. Cases have been struck out on appeal for that. The analysis or expert only needs to outline what his or her findings were and it is for the jury to decide what they make of it in combination and consideration with all the other evidence,” she asserted.
Given the impact of forensic evidence in many cases, the DPP has expressed the hope that the Government will invest more in developing facilities that can preserve the integrity of forensic evidence as best as possible.
“In many ways, we have used forensic medicine and circumstantial evidence to prove the prosecutions’ case beyond a reasonable doubt. I can only hope that the authorities are very well aware of the importance of forensic evidence and that they will devote more resources in terms of the facilities to make sure that the investigators, prosecutors, and defence counsel and the court have available to it, the best possible evidence in terms of the whole integrity of what forensic evidence is supposed to be about. I believe that if they devote more resources, then it will be a positive plus for the criminal justice system,” she stated.
The primary aim of the conference was to update and expose medical and legal practitioners and other health care workers of new developments in forensic medicine and to inform and influence governmental and non governmental policies in the field of forensic medicine.
The Collins Essential English Dictionary 2nd edition defines forensic medicine as the application of medical knowledge to the purposes of law, such as in determining the cause of death. There are different categories of forensic medicine including pathology, anthropology, alcohol analysis, entomology, chemical analysis, DNA testing, dental records and toxicology.

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