(CMR) The Office of the Director of Public Prosecution was publicly embarrassed in Grand Court today when it appeared in the matter relating to charges against Cayman Marl Road’s editor, Sandra Hill. Her attorney, Clayton Phuran, pointed out some glaring amateurish errors in the indictment documentation that was served on him late yesterday afternoon.
Despite having almost three weeks to prepare the indictment and serving Phuran at 4:56 pm yesterday, February 6 for a mid-day hearing they still managed to make an error on each of the two counts.
Hill is charged with 2 counts of (1) misuse of ICTA and (2) causing harassment, distress etc. as it relates to an expose show that was done on Matthew Leslie back in January 2019.
Despite having almost three weeks since the last court hearing to properly submit the documentation to the defendant’s attorney they still managed to have technical errors on the indictment form. In one instance, the prosecution refers erroneously to the misuse of the ICTA Act. The Cayman Islands does not have Acts but instead laws.
Additionally, it states the offense is contained in section s.90(2) of the Act. When in fact. 2.90(2) of the Information and Communications Technology Law (2017 Revision) speaks to possible actions the court can take if someone is convicted.
The errors were not limited to the first charge alone. The second charge, which speaks to s.88 of the Penal Code (2018 Revision) refers to a law that never existed at the time of the offense. The relevant law is the Penal Code (2019 Revision).
The question of “overloading the indictment” was also brought up by Phuran. The Criminal Procedure Code (CPC) warns the prosecution against overloading the indictment when drafting it – with an unnecessarily large number of counts often creating redundancy in the charges.
The matter has been adjourned for an additional two weeks to allow the prosecution to correct the errors and a potential trial date has been set for June 10-13. The judge noted that he was mindful to not do anything that would delay the trial for the defendant. Her attorney confirmed that she is anxious to have her day in court and was against any unnecessary delays.
CMR is only permitted to report on matters that come up in open court and not disclose any disclosure documents at the request of the DPP’s office.
The DPP has now charged Hill in at least six cases over the course of some 11-years now with no success thus far. They have had their various criminal cases dismissed by the court at the earliest opportunity with no defense ever being required thur far. Speaking to Hill, CMR took her view on the day’s events:
“As usual, I am not surprised at anything that the DPP’s office does. We overpay these persons to demonstrate their amazing incompetence. To think that they continually come after me and still cannot manage to get the most basic things in order would surprise most persons; but not me. I’ve now seen it all with them I’m afraid. I am looking forward to having my day in court as always and was very appreciative of the judge’s understanding that justice delayed is justice denied. This case, in particular, has some critical issues that need to be addressed as it relates to free speech and the role of the press in the Cayman Islands.”
The matter is back in court on February 21st.