EDITOR, The Tribune.
EARLIER this month, a letter of mine appeared in your column wherein I suggested that Acting Chief Justice Stephen Isaacs’ plea for more judicial discretion on the issue of bail (specifically for Magistrates) should be regarded as merely the wrongheaded opinion of the spokesman for an interest group.
I also suggested that the judiciary (through its actions on bail and sentencing) bore a large responsibility for the state of criminal disorder in our country today.
Since then, it has been brought to my attention that the former statement could be interpreted as a personal attack on Justice Isaacs, insofar as it might suggest a misuse of his constitutional role, which is far removed from acting for narrow interests and involves (among other things) an important exercise of discretion in delineating the rights of the state and those of the individual.
This role is deserving of the utmost respect by anyone who values the rule of law and constitutional government. It should never be confused with the role an individual judge assumes when he or she engages in public discussion on issues relating to the judiciary and its role in society.
Meanwhile, in the fortnight since my letter appeared, the patent absurdity of the suggestion that the judiciary is not the basic cause of runaway violence in our country has been on painful display.
About half a dozen young men have been killed in shootouts with police, many of them apparently on bail and being “electronically monitored” and a man convicted not just of possessing, but of importing, high powered weapons into our country received a sentence of 4 years in prison (mere possession would get you 15 to 20 years in most comparable countries).
Bahamians are being killed and robbed daily by people who are caught repeatedly by the police and are released on bail and who use illegal guns, for the possession of which Judges and Magistrates give absurdly light sentences. This is the main challenge to the viability of our society today.
Do not permit members of the judiciary acting in their private roles to obscure that fact by appealing to the respect that their constitutional role rightly attracts.
January 29, 2018.