Refuse Them!

Refuse Them!

SDA pastor urges lawyers not to represent people believed to commit heinous crimes

BY HORACE HINES
Observer West reporter

Thursday, September 24, 2020

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MONTEGO BAY, St James - Outspoken Pastor Charles Brevitt, who leads the congregation at the King's Seventh-day Adventist Church in Mount Salem, says the time has come for attorneys-at-law to refrain from providing representation for individuals who they think have committed heinous crimes.

“I believe the time must come in this country when some lawyers must say, 'I am not going to take this case'. Now, I am only a little pastor you know... you have to forgive me, you really have to forgive me. Because some men come to me and I say, 'I am not going to baptise you, you are not ready'. So you see my point of departure?” Pastor Brevitt posited.

“I believe that sometimes people should be prepared to stand up and say, 'I am guilty and I am casting my lot on the side of mercy', rather than to know that I am guilty, and you know that I am guilty and you are going to defend me and protect me as if you know that I am innocent.”

He was delivering the sermon on Sunday at the Assize Church Service to mark the beginning of the Michaelmas term of the St James Circuit Court, at the St James Parish Church in Montego Bay, under the theme: 'Upholding Justice in Uncertain Times'.

President of the Cornwall Bar Association Lambert Johnson, who was also in attendance at the church service, rejected the forthright clergyman's stance, citing that vital to the profession is “the presumption of innocence until proven guilty”.

“The ethic of our profession requires us to take on any and every case once it is in your field of competence and there is no conflict of interest, because essential to our role is the presumption of innocence until proven guilty. So, if you take it from that step that each person is clothed in innocence until proven guilty, then it is our duty to defend those persons who come to us no matter how heinous or dreadful we think the case might be,” Johnson told the Jamaica Observer West.

He pointed out that there are well-known instances where persons who were generally believed to be guilty of crimes have been subsequently vindicated.

“Of course there are several well-known cases in Jamaica where persons have been presumed to be guilty in the court of public opinion, but when the matter goes to court and the evidence is put forward, it becomes clear that these persons are innocent. And so, while I hold the pastor in great regard, I have to respectfully disagree with him on this one,” Johnson argued.

Johnson reflected, for instance, that in 2012 it was popular belief that two brothers who were charged with the rape of five females, including an eight-year-old and two teenagers in Irwin Point, St James, were guilty until after they had to be acquitted in the face of DNA evidence.

The men were jointly charged with burglary, robbery with aggravation, illegal possession of firearm, abduction and assault at common law as well as the sexual assault charges including rape, buggery, sexual touching and grievous sexual assaults after they were pointed out at an ID parade.

“There is the well-known case that has been called the Irwin Brothers case where they were thought to be guilty of the rape of several females in the Irwin area, including a very young child somewhere in the range of about eight, and the court of public opinion had them convicted, but luckily DNA evidence showed that they were never present. It was only after the perpetrator was discovered by DNA that the matter was actually put to rest. So, I respectively cannot agree with the very respected man of the cloth,” the Cornwall Bar Association president argued.

Pastor Brevitt also called for social intervention that will allow repeat offenders to break their cycle of criminal activities.

“I believe that there must be a way that repeat offenders, rather than going back through the routine, must find a way to be subjected to some form of training and intervention that must prevent them from being repeat offenders…,” the man of the cloth argued.


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