By LAMECH JOHNSON
Tribune Staff Reporter
A CORRECTIONAL Officer faces seven years in jail if convicted at trial of possession of dangerous drugs with intent to supply.
Ervin Simeon Miller, 51, of Pinewood Gardens was arraigned yesterday when brought before Magistrate Constance Delancey concerning a drug arrest on the grounds of the Bahamas Department of Correctional Services (BCDS), formerly Her Majesty’s Prisons.
On Wednesday around 2pm, a team of officers from the Drug Enforcement Unit (DEU) acted on a tip which led them to BDCS, where they conducted a search of a correctional officer (formerly a prison overseer) who had just reported for duty.
Miller was accused of having a quantity of marijuana in his possession with intent to supply.
After confirming that he understood the charge he was asked by Magistrate Delancey: “How do you plead?”
“Could I have a minute to speak with my lawyer please?” Miller requested. The magistrate obliged and he spoke with his lawyers, Tonique Lewis and Roberto Reckley, for about five minutes.
“Mr Miller? Are you ready to enter a plea to the charge?” Magistrate Delancy asked.
“That’s a hard one,” the accused said.
Ms Lewis asked the court for a moment to have Miller’s family present as they offered him their best “professional advice”.
The court allowed the family in but told the attorney: “We’re not dealing with a child, this is a grown adult.”
The magistrate addressed Miller again and asked: “How you do plead ... guilty or not guilty?”
“Not guilty,” the accused answered.
He no longer faces a mandatory minimum sentence of four years if convicted as the sentencing law was declared unconstitutional in September by then Supreme Court Senior Justice Jon Isaacs.
While the magistrate’s discretion in sentencing matters has been restored, she does not have the discretion to consider bail. She remanded him to the correctional facility and advised him of his right to apply to the Supreme Court for bail.
She also told him that, given the information presented to her, “I will make a note to the Commissioner of the Department of Correctional Services to make arrangements for your safety.”
Magistrate Delancy told Miller that he will stand trial before fellow Magistrate Andrew Forbes on February 16, 2015.
“Can we have a trial today?” Miller asked.
“That’s not possible,” the magistrate replied, adding that she did not have the jurisdiction to do so.