Attorney-at-law, Lennox Lawrence has formally written to the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), Sherma Dalrymple, to intervene and discontinue the alleged 2014 criminal complaints filed by Antoine Defoe and Others alleging Treating.
In his letter dated March 24, 2021, copied to the Attorney General as one of the attorneys-at-law for the Defendants in the matter, Mr. Lawrence invited the Acting DPP to exercise her power under section 72 (2) (c) of the Constitution to discontinue any private criminal proceedings against his clients subject to any directions from the Attorney General as he is empowered to do under the Constitution and on well-established grounds enunciated by the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (ECSC).
Lawrence further indicates that the complaints should be discontinued because they do not disclose the statutory offense of treating under section 56 of the House of Assembly (Elections) Act and, in any event, have no reasonable prospect of resulting in conviction.
The case in question, Roosevelt Skerrit & Others v Antoine Defoe & Others, allegedly arose out of events leading up to the general elections held in Dominica on 8 December 2014, most notably two free music concerts open to the public on two different days.
Speaking in response to the Leader of the Opposition on Friday, Lead Counsel, Anthony Astaphan supported the letter written to the Director of Public Prosecution by Attorney-at-law, Mr. Lennox Lawrence.
“My response is that the Director of Public Prosecution and the Attorney General have a constitutional duty to perform and we have given them in the letter written by Mr.Lawrence, premise on legal advice that I have prepared and provided to the Honorable Prime Minister, that this is a classic case for the intervention of the Director of Public Prosecution and the Attorney General to prevent an abuse of the process of the court for multiple reasons; one the complaint as we argue in the letter does not disclose a cause of action of treating as provided for under the act, we have two judgments of the high court that have said that musical concerts and these sort of events are not corrupt practices during an election, they are no different to any normal event that takes place in social life and indeed in any other election campaign.”
It was also indicated in the letter written to the DPP, that the complaints do not disclose any specific persons allegedly corruptly treated on the days of the free music concerts or who were allegedly corruptly influenced to vote for a particular candidate.
“We have also indicated that the complaints do not disclose a single person by name or by identity or whether registered or not that was in fact treated or corruptly influenced to vote or refrain from voting by virtue of these two concerts,” Astaphan said.
He further added, “The so-called person that is alleged to have been corruptly influenced was the Dominican electorate, what is that? who is that? were they in attendance? And indeed, I should add the complaints do not even suggest that anybody attended the concert and of course we added questions of the potential abuse of private criminal complaints, of maintaining the integrity of the criminal process and the judicial independence, and to prevent any abuse to the criminal justice process and the magistrates court and a number of different reasons.”
“The letter is now in the public domain and I urge the people to read it, whoever leaked it, thank you. I urge you to read it and see the grounds set out and I am sure if and when it should say the Honourable Prime Minister will disclose the opinion that was provided to him as well which sets out in great detail what is an obvious abuse of the process of the court and when you read both the letter and the opinion if it is released, you will then get a sense of why is it that the justices of the privy council may have asked Ms Cara Shillingford whether these complaints were abuses of the processes of the court.”