The Court of Appeal has urged prosecutors in St. Vincent and the Grenadines to inform judges, during trial, of any errors or omissions the jurist might make in his summations to the jury.
The advice was offered last week after the Crown conceded three murder appeals because of blatant errors by two trial judges, one of whom is now the deceased and the other retired.
Justice of Appeal, Louise Blenman said that the Crown had properly and professionally conceded the appeal.
“What is clear is that during the summation of the learned judge, several errors were made,” she said.
“I want to suggest to the Crown that whenever the judge is summing up to the jury, that the crown has a checklist and the Crown has a definition of offences so that the Crown could actually tick off when the judges go by and if the judge makes an error, correct it.
“That is what the Director of Public Prosecutions is required to do. Defence lawyers are also required to do that but they won’t do that because it is in their interest, so they may think, to have the judge err,” she said.
The jurist said there is a greater obligation on the Crown to ensure that the judge gets his summation correct.
Justice Blenman suggested that prosecutors can rise at the end of the judge’s summation or find a way, along with the defence, to seek a private audience with the judge.
“What should not happen is to have so many matters, as occurred this morning, where the judge had made egregious errors and the crown was forced in a situation where they had no other choice but to properly and professionally concede the appeal,” she said last week Monday on the first day of the appeal court’s one week sitting in Kingstown.
Acting Director of Public Prosecution, Sejilla McDowall, told the court that her office will take the suggestion on board and will have discussion on the way forward.
Justice of Appeal Davidson Baptiste, another member of the panel, noted that some judges don’t like to be told when there is an omission.
“Some will say, ‘No, no, no. I said it’, when he has not said it all.”
Justice Baptiste, however, said counsel has an obligation to say it and that could save the day on appeal.
Baptiste said that some judges, at the end of the summation, would ask counsel if they had neglected to say something while others might not.
Justice of Appeal Gertel Thom was the third member of the panel.
The jurists’ comments came after they freed one man who would have completed, in August, a 12-year sentence for murder.
Leroy Haynes could have been retried for his alleged crime; however, the Court of Appeal decided that to do so would not serve justice, since he had almost completed his initial sentence.
The judges, however, ordered retrials of Aubrey Wilson, who has been convicted of murder, and of Annel Young, who had been convicted of murder and aggravated burglary in unrelated cases.