Defense attorney successfully argues for suspects’ rights
A judge directed a jury to deliver a not guilty verdict on a woman whom police failed to inform of her right to free legal representation prior to being interviewed.
Itzel Anderson was found not guilty of perverting the course of justice after a Grand Court jury returned a directed verdict on Friday.
Anderson’s defense attorney Nicholas Dixey successfully argued that criminal suspects must be informed by the police of their right to free legal representation prior to undergoing an interview with police officers.
Anderson had been charged with perverting the course of public justice on Nov. 25, 2013, by attempting to conceal parcels of cocaine from the police by placing them within a garbage container.
The trial started with jury selection Wednesday, but before any evidence was heard, Justice Alexander Henderson was asked to hear legal arguments.
Anderson had been told by police that she had the right to speak to a lawyer before being interviewed, but knowing she could not afford to pay a lawyer, she agreed to be interviewed without one. She was not told she could have free legal representation.
Justice Henderson ruled that her interview was inadmissible.
After the judge gave his ruling, Senior Crown Counsel Tanya Lobban told the jury that the evidence the prosecution was left with was insufficient to proceed with the case, and therefore she offered no evidence against Anderson on this charge.
Justice Henderson then explained to the jury that for the previous two days he had been dealing with a very difficult, for the Cayman Islands, point involving the rights of criminal suspects to have legal advice before they are interviewed by police.
He reinforced what Ms. Lobban had said – that his rulings had left the crown without any way of proving its case.
“This is not something to be disparaged,” Justice Henderson cautioned. “It is the system working as it’s expected to work.”
He said the court does make rulings from time to time that result in a lack of evidence available to the crown. The result was that the jury had to return a verdict of acquittal, as a matter of law.
Justice Henderson indicated earlier that he would be giving his full reasons for his rulings in writing because of the importance of the principle involved.