“The duty of Prosecuting Counsel is not to obtain convictions at all costs but to act as a Minister of Justice.”
R. v. Puddick ER 176, 662 4 F. & F. 497
(CMR) Cayman Marl Road's, content manager and host of The Cold Hard Truth has advised that she will be seeking legal action against Darlene Oko, Crown Counsel at the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.
The decision comes after Oko sought to have Hill's bail conditions revoked on Tuesday morning solely on the word of the alleged victim in the harassment case against Hill, Matthew Leslie.
Leslie claims that Hill was making disparaging remarks about Justice Chapple and Oko on her morning podcast on Tuesday, May 19. Confirming that she had not actually seen or heard the podcast for herself Oko noted she was instead relying on the veracity of Leslie's comments to her.
She claims that according to her source, Hill had claimed that the judge had no common sense and had other disparaging reports to share about Oko herself. As a result, she was asking the court to have Hill legally sanctioned for the remarks.
What was actually said was in relation to the judiciary having Zoom meetings available online and then the Chief Justice issuing directions that a person could only watch the proceedings at the Constitutional Hall. Hill said it defined common sense to have spent money and IT resources setting up online Zoom rooms that could then not be used at all by persons online.
Oko also allegedly mischaracterized a previous hearing in February in which she sought to have the bail conditions extended and have Hill reprimanded then as well. Claiming that she had been victorious in getting that extension she was asking the judge to act based on those “facts”.
In that earlier matter, Oko claimed that a publication where Hill shared a letter from the DPP's office went against her bail conditions and that the bail conditions should be extended to include legal correspondence. The original bail order prohibits the sharing of disclosure documents leading up to the trial or anything that may prejudice the case.
The judge found that by sharing that letter there was no breach of the bail conditions and he was not willing to include letters sent between the parties. Her request to have the conditions extended was therefore not permitted. The judge firmly explained that if a client wanted to share correspondence between her attorney and the DPPs office that would be their choice to do so and no one could prohibit that.
However, during Tuesday's trial, Oko recalled the details very differently and erroneously informed another Judge that the bail extension had been granted. Clayton Phuran, quickly objected and indicated that was completely false. In the end, Justice Chapple said he was not concerned in a judge-alone trial with much of anything that was published on Cayman Marl Road because he would not be accessing the website and his decisions would not be subject to any influence by any publications.
Oko, did not allow the false and disparaging remarks to end with Tuesday's hearing. During Friday's session, Oko continued with the severely defamatory remarks about Hill and CMR claiming that we peddled in fake news and making comparisons to what she appears to think is the holy grail of local media, the Cayman Compass. Hill objected and Judge Chapple asked the parties to settle the matter outside of his court.
Hill shared her concerns with CMR:
“Most people do not realize that the DPPs office should be acting as ‘Ministers of Justice' and should be seeking the truth. How can it be right that a DPP stands up in court and essentially lies and on that basis attempts to revoke a person's bail? That is a very serious request of the court and she should not be relying on hearsay to make a revocation bail application. I am most thankful that judges are much more balanced than the prosecutors. Nonetheless, her actions cannot go unanswered.”
Asked precisely what legal action she would be taking she indicated that she was in talks with several attorneys about what course is most appropriate but at the very minimum a formal complaint would be lodge with several agencies. The DPP continues to seemingly push the boundaries of freedom of speech in relation to reporting on the case.
The incident has led to CMR having to address false rumors that Hill had been arrested for breach of bail conditions.
Darlene Oko is Canadian and formally of the Public Prosecutor's office in Nova Scotia. Darlene Oko was a 1989 graduate of the University of Calgary Law School. She articled with the Crown office in Calgary and was later appointed a Crown attorney there. In 1996 Ms. Oko was appointed the senior Crown in Drumheller, Alta., where she stayed until her appointment this past September as a Crown attorney in Antigonish.
She appears to have arrived in Cayman in 2017 to work for the DPP's office.