There is no obligation on the accused or his or her counsel to make any disclosure of a relationship with a juror to the trial judge

Dear Editor,

In the absence of a commentary from either the Guyana Bar Association or its female counterpart the Guyana Association of Women Lawyers, I am sending this communication for publication in response to Mr. Harry Gill’s letter published in the Chronicle’s edition of 17 August 2013, critical of Mr. Nigel Hughes, Attorney-at-Law, in his capacity as defence counsel, for not disclosing to the trial judge at the recently concluded criminal sessions of the High Court, a previous Attorney – client relationship with a member of the jury, in his practice at the Bar.

It is my opinion from research I have conducted in this matter, that whereas the law and practice of the legal profession with our common law traditions require counsel for the prosecution to disclose to the trial judge in a criminal matter any relationship between a juror and the accused, there is no corresponding obligation on the accused or his or her counsel to make any such disclosure to the trial judge.

In my opinion, it is significant that the trial judge His Honour Mr. Justice Navindra Singh, did not require Mr. Hughes to offer any explanation after disclosure of the fact that he had formerly acted as counsel for the juror in a previous matter, was made.

It is therefore with concern that I note a headline in your edition of 13 October 2013 – Cops probing Hughes’ ties to banned juror.  If there is no obligation to disclose on the part of defence counsel, what could the police be probing, and more importantly, what could have motivated them to do so?  Was there a complaint made by someone of which the public is unaware?  And if so, what offence was allegedly committed?  It does not augur well for the recently confirmed Commissioner of Police Mr. Brumell to have his subordinates investigating matters which cannot form the basis for any criminal charge.

Yours faithfully,
Brynmor T.I. Pollard, SC.

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