The attorneys for Adidja Palmer, otherwise called Vybz Kartel, Shawn Campbell, also known as Shawn Storm, Andre St. John, and Kahira Jones, are optimistic ahead of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council appeal hearing set for later this week.
The matter will be heard on February 14-15 by Justices Lord Reed, Lord Lloyd-Jones, Lord Briggs, Lord Burrows, and Lady Simler.
Case details shared via the UK Privy Council website are that the appellants are challenging the March 13, 2014, conviction for the murder of associate Clive “Lizard” Williams.
Together, the appellants are raising their appeal on several grounds concerning evidence that was tendered at trial by the prosecution, the decision of the judge to continue the trial after learning one juror had offered to bribe others, and how the judge should have handled the proceedings after that including asking the jury to return with a verdict late in the day.
The facts as summarized for the court hearing are that the trial the appellants were convicted after a trial lasting 64 days before the trial judge and a jury in the Home Circuit Court in Kingston, Jamaica.
The prosecution had argued that Kartel, Campbell, Jones, and St. John had murdered Mr Williams on August 16, 2011, after he failed to return two unlicensed firearms to Kartel. The guns were reportedly given to Williams for “safekeeping.”
Vybz Kartel & Shawn Storm Leaving Court in 2014
Williams was never seen or heard from, and his family determined he was last at Kartel’s house in Havendale, St. Andrew. His body was never found, and he is presumed dead.
The appellants were all arrested on September 30, 2011, and police seized their cellular telephones. The evidence from the phones taken by Digicel Communications and placed on a CD was used heavily during the trial.
At trial, the defense for the appellants challenged the admissibility of this telecommunications evidence as they contended that the police request to Digicel and Digicel’s provision of data to the police were carried out in breach of the Interception of Communications Act.
They also argued that the evidence had been obtained in breach of the appellant’s constitutional rights – the fundamental right to the protection of privacy of communication. The trial judge had, however, ruled that the telecommunications evidence was admissible.
The other issue regarding the juror offering a bribe concerns the judge becoming aware that one juror had offered the jury foreman JM$500,000 to influence the outcome of the verdict.
However, the judge, having spoken with counsel for both the prosecution and the defense, decided that the trial should proceed.
The appellants are contending that the proper thing would have been for the judge to discharge the jury or the particular juror said to have offered the bribes.
“The judge finished his summing up at 3.42pm on 13 March 2014. The jury returned at 5.35pm when the forewoman told the court that the jury had not reached a unanimous verdict. The judge sent the jury out again. At 6.08pm, the jury returned and, by a majority of 10 to 1, convicted the appellants of the murder of Mr Williams.”
The attorney for Shawn Campbell, Bert Samuels, who is leading more than a dozen lawyers collectively with Isat Buchanan, said the team is ready to go. He briefly described the preparatory process before the hearing and said he hoped for the best.
“We are in the throes of final preparation, and that will be heard by the court over a day and a half, and we’re looking forward to a decision which will make our clients feel happy. Of course, this is a matter of law, and the team is hard at work. We do not expect the court to hand down its decision right away; it will likely reserve judgment. This is a huge and voluminous appeal- it has four appellants, and the bundles, notes, evidence and authorities are a huge amount of readings for the court,” Samuels told Urban Islandz.
Isat Buchanan, who is representing Vybz Kartel, also shared that he was confident in the protections of the Jamaican constitution, which confers rights to his client.
“We are ready, God and Time. In a free and democratic society, one can never negotiate unfairness. Fair trial rights are paramount. The Jamaican constitution has teeth,” he wrote in a response to Urban Islandz.
The lawyers are already in the United Kingdom ahead of the hearing.
In the meantime, Kartel and Shawn Storm have shown optimism about a possible favorable judgment separately. In a recent post on Instagram, Shawn Storm reacted to fans mentioning the appeal hearing.
On his account, Vybz Kartel also had a countdown started on Sunday. He posted the number 3 and, on Monday, posted the number 2.