GUEST COLUMN: Yugge Farrel – Trail to injustice

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RAWLSTON POMPEY

It has often been said that there are ‘…more crazy people out in the wider society, than there are patients under psychiatric confinement. Yet evidence has shown that many people not psychiatrically certified or institutionalized and presumed sane, appeared to have done or said more crazy things than people who had completely lost their sanity. This may not necessarily be said of social commentator Edwin Ayoung, more popularly called ‘…Crazy.’ Seen as losing control of his mental faculties, in predictive mood, he sang that ‘…In time to come, America would have a black President’ and that ‘…One day Trinidad and Tobago will have a woman Prime Minister.’ In spite of the name ‘Crazy, it might be ‘saner’ [Urban Dictionary], to listen to his song, ‘…In Time to Come’ [You Tube: 2000], than that which you are about to read.

PROPHETIC MADNESS

Even as ‘Crazy’ was prophesying future happenings these may have been considered ‘…figment of imagination.’ Incidentally, that which the social commentator had not prophesied was that in time to come, a fashion model would have been placed under psychiatric confinement for allegedly ‘…Making use of abusive language.’ Had he prophesied such occurrence in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, then he may have lost his sanity if ordered to be placed under such confinement.’ That which speaks to his sanity, are that the manifestations the world has seen. Barak Obama became the first black President of the United States [2009-2017], while Kamla Persaud-Bissessar became the first woman Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago [2010-2015]. However, while ‘…marijuana is being sold in shops,’ it may have been ‘…Prophetic Madness’ to say that sane “…Women would walk naked in town’ and that‘…What goes up will never come down.

PERSPECTIVE

This commentary looks not at the facts of the Case or determination of innocence or guilt of Fashion Model/Defendant Yugge Farrell 23, but primarily at the procedures followed by (i) …Law enforcement; (ii) …the Prosecution; and (iii) …the Magistracy.’ It represents a ‘…professional law enforcement/ prosecutorial perspective,’ based upon (a) …personal law enforcement practice; and (b)…investigative and prosecutorial experiences’ [Antigua & Barbuda]. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights speaks to ‘…Equality of all persons before the law’ [UDHR: 1948: Article 7: SVG CO: Section 8]. Thus, it matters not the offence charged or the status of persons involved. In criminal proceedings, the fact in issue and related facts and substantiating evidence, are that to which adjudicators shall confined their considerations. These allow for adjudicators to make informed judicial decisions.

CURSE CRIME OR CONCERN

Many would have seen the faces of evil everywhere, but perhaps, none as harrowing as those seen by fashion model Yugge Farrell. Background research revealed that she was born into a family household of indigence. Though her societal and financial status was unequal to that of her accuser, ‘…Karen Duncan-Gonsalves,’ to her these were neither ‘…a Curse; …a Crime or a Concern.’ Endeavoring to achieve that which had apparently been evasive to her family, she set out to be ‘…independent and self-sufficient.’ Said to have possessed extraordinary talent, she ‘…conceptualized; …sketched and designed’ that which women and girls and ‘…queens and in betweens’ may wear. She had been striving for self-actualization. Thus, she had been working toward self-empowerment and financial security. She was strengthened and encouraged by an ambition that may have paved the way for her to become one of the region’s top fashion models.

UNFOLDING EVENTS

The unfolding events of arrest and prosecution and institutionalized confinement of Yugge Farrell appeared smack of ‘…peculiarities and irregularities.’ There was not an iota of evidence suggesting that her responsibility was so diminished, and that she was unable to guard herself against physical danger. Then there were marked deafening silence on ‘…public adulterous relations claims. These were not refuted or acknowledged. These have developed into a scandal that has sparked national controversy. Those that had witnessed the judicial developments had negatively viewed the proceedings as institutionalized lunacy. When the Order of confinement was made, with awesome grimness, the pleasing personality and bright sparkle in her eyes and radiant smile on her face disappeared. That which might prudently be cautioned is that in the discharge of duties, judicial officers shall not be unmindful of pitfalls that had plagued many ‘…Police officers; …Judges and Magistrates.’

THE ORDER

In summary proceedings, the normal procedural flow after a ‘…Not Guilty Plea’ is (i) …Commencement of trial; (ii) …If unprepared, the prosecution may make application for adjournment; (iii) …Bail will then arise. Dependent upon readiness, the defence may apply for bail, while the prosecution may decide upon one of two options- object or agree. The adjudicator, however, reviewing the nature, circumstances and in consideration, may exercise a discretionary power in ‘…granting bail or remand to jail.’ In the instant case, the adjudicator appeared to have misdirected himself and unwittingly upheld the prosecution’s objection to bail and erroneously acquiesced to an application for ‘…an Order of Confinement to the Glenn’s psychiatric hospital. This may have been the point where all craziness had started. Long before she was born, it was said, ‘…Injustice anywhere, is a threat to justice everywhere’ [MLK: You Tube].

TRAIL TO INJUSTICE

In commencing criminal proceedings ‘…fitness to plead’ on sworn information before the Court that a defendant was losing touch with reality; that she appeared delusional, paranoid or schizophrenic or psychotic is critical to its commencement. These are said to be progressive conditions, affecting minds. Only psychiatrists may evaluate. In Yugge Farrell’s case, there was no evidence that the she had posed imminent threat to herself, her accuser, members of the wider society or to judicial officers. She exhibited no behavior inconsistent with normalcy, but likened to a ‘Bengal tigress’ she was caged by the physical presence of law enforcement personnel. In the mindboggling developments, the prosecution appeared to have lured an unsuspecting Magistrate Bertie Pompey down a slippery and treacherous judicial ‘…Trail to Injustice.’ The case revealed ‘…Irony and Oddity.’ She was fit to plead and then she was unfit to stand trial. She pleaded ‘…Not Guilty’ to the charge, but confined for want of sanity. [January 5, 2018].

THE CONCEPTS

While the concept ‘…Criminality’ speaks to criminal behavior, ‘…Lunacy’ speaks to mental instability. Though different, they bear some co-relations. One speaks to propensities in individuals in committing criminal offences of varying classifications (Indictable; …Misdemeanor and Summary). The other speaks to actions reflecting ‘…abnormal human behavior,’ consistent with that of ‘…a person starved of sound memory and discretion.’ This specifically speaks to persons not in control of their mental faculties. In criminal proceedings, likened to the ballistic experts or pathologists, psychiatrists are often called upon to give guidance to adjudicators in determining ‘…mental fitness to plead and stand trial.’ This is never a determination of adjudicators. If it were so, then there would be no need for ‘…psychiatric evaluation or confinement.

THE DIFFERENCES

The differences are clear and simple. Magistrates come with a ‘…legal background,’ while psychiatrists come with a practice in psychiatry. One deals with ‘law and justice,’ the other with disease of the mind. A Magistrate has the power to incarcerate a psychologist, while a psychiatrist has the expertise to certify him crazy. Admission to a psychiatric hospital might be (i) …Voluntary; (ii) …Recommended by a psychiatrist; and (iii) …Ordered by a Magistrate on sworn information by any informant.’ Thus, in view of certain provisions contained in most ‘…Mental Health Laws,’ Courts before whom defendants appear to answer criminal charges may, ‘…with good cause,’ order such persons to psychiatric confinement, either for (a) …Evaluation; (b) …Safety and control; or (c) …Care and supervision.’

THE MISERIES

There are as many traits in humans, as there are moods and biases. Among these are, (i) …Human fallibility; (ii) …human insensitivity; and (iii) …Treachery.’ These are universally known to have been among the frequent causes of ‘…human misery, pain and suffering.’ When a criminal Complaint was read to fashion model/defendant Yugge Farrell, by adjudicating Magistrate Bertie Pompey, and a plea of ‘…Not Guilty’ had been entered, she had not the slightest inkling that she was poised to endure prosecutorial, judicial and psychiatric ‘…Miseries.’ Then when agents of the State argued that she had suffered ‘…diminished responsibility,’ instead of withdrawing the minor complaint or enter ‘…Nolle prosequi,’ she was caused to be placed under psychiatric confinement, by an Order of the Court [January 5, 2018].

THE MADNESS

Likened to most regional jurisdictions, the ‘…Mental Health Acts’ [Antigua &Barbuda: Chapter 274 and St. Vincent & the Grenadines: Chapter 294], allow for persons suspected of lunacy to be committed to a psychiatric hospital. In spite of the non-violent nature of the alleged act, likened to common criminals Yugge Farrell appeared at a Kingstown Magistrate’s Court under conspicuously heavy police escort. She had been accused of being confrontationally and verbally abusive to a citizen and prominent housewife Karen Duncan-Gonsalves, referring to her as a ‘…dirty bitch’ [Jamaica Observer: January 30, 2018]. There was no evidence that she was a person in whose case, existed mental defectiveness as to require ‘…psychiatric care, supervision or control.’

THE PREGNANCY

It is to public knowledge that in its judicial reviews of Appeals from OECS’ Courts, the ‘JCPC’ has been uncompromising in censoring Courts for that which appellants/litigants had seen as judicial decisions that appeared ‘…Pregnant with Perversion.’ This has often been the view of many ‘…defendants and accused; …practicing attorneys and lay persons.’ Those who are familiar with, and guided by the ‘…Law enforcement Code of Ethics,’ know that among its fundamental duties, is helping mankind. One of which is, (i) …Protecting the weak against the strong.’ There was no doubt that coming from a law enforcement background, former Deputy Commissioner of Police and sitting Magistrate Bertie Pompey [SVG] was sufficiently aware of such law enforcement duty.

THE PREDICAMENT

Social media images of the fashion model showed Yugge Farrell as a young woman of striking and breathtaking beauty. Yet facing adversities, none had revealed anything the ‘…Thousand words,’ a picture was said to be worth. Except for a ‘…gesture with her fingers under police escort’ to the Glen psychiatric hospital, they revealed nothing of her ‘…disappointment, plight and misery.’ Her ‘…Predicament’ has not only touched the hearts of many people in her country of domicile and Diaspora, but also thousands across the region. Media reports suggested that, the prosecution, without showing to the Magistracy, a prosecutorial application for institutionalized confinement, saw bail effectively denied.

THE PRESUMPTIONS

One month after her appearance at the Kingstown Magistrate Court to answer a minor charge, it continues to boggle the mind of legal practitioners as to the reason/s the mental state of fashion model Yugge Farrell fell into the prosecutorial briefs of the Prosecution Service [SVG]. Equally as much as there is the ‘…Presumption of Innocence,’ there is also the ‘…Presumption of Sanity.’ In the former, the prosecution shall prove guilt ‘…beyond reasonable doubt,’ while in the latter, the ‘…accused shall prove that he/she was crazy.’ The long established Case of ‘…Daniel McNaghton’ sets the Rule. It states that ‘…Every man is to be presumed sane…and that to establish a defence on the ground of insanity, it must be clearly proved that at the time of committing the act, the party accused was laboring under such a defect of reason, from disease of the mind, as not to know the nature and quality of the act he was doing, or if he did know it, that he did not know what he was doing was wrong’ [1843: 10 C& F: 200].

THE HORRORS

She appeared to have encountered challenges, difficulties and hurdles, suspectedly resulted from ‘…high-profile socialization.’ Such were known to have brought disappointment and destruction to young lives. There are certain developed tendencies. Escape from them often resulted in ‘…self-induced tragedies and funerals or confinement to psychiatric hospitals.’ As fate would have it, she was arrested for running afoul of the law. She was arrested and charged for utterances, bordering ‘…criminality or lunacy.’ Then there were ‘…Horrors.’ She had to contend with a brutal judicial system that appeared to have ignored human sensitivity and the dignity and worth of the human person. Lessons may be learned from a Jamaican reggae artist Lieutenant Stitchie. He advised ‘…Young Girl Wear Yu Size’ [You Tube].

THE BAD WORD CASE

While the public had been incensed over the ‘…prosecutorial/judicial developments,’ legal practitioners had questioned the prosecutorial expediency. For instance, fundamental questions were raised over (i)…the approach by law enforcement; (ii) …the hard-lined position of the prosecution; and (iii) …that which informed the ‘…Magisterial Decision’ in ordering the confinement of the defendant for psychiatric evaluation. The matter was so simple that within the law enforcement community, personnel would have described the matter as a straight forward ‘…Bad word Case.’ Attempting to save her from possible ‘…judicial indiscretions,’ Attorney Grant Connell was prepared to accept a ‘…Dock Brief’ (consultation with the defendant in the prisoner’s dock). The attempt ended in futility. Likened to the ‘…End of Solomon Grundy,’ that was the ‘…End of fashion model Yugge.’

THE QUESTIONS

When an Order for a two-week confinement at the psychiatric hospital was made by adjudicating Magistrate, His Worship Bertie Pompey, Yugge Farrell was devastated. The fashion model/defendant Yugge Farrell descended to the depths of despair. A lifelong dream of a modeling career; the prospect of self-empowerment; …social advancement and financial prosperity had all been shattered.’ The developments have prompted many questions (i) …Was the adjudicating Magistrate deceived into believing that the defendant was mentally deranged? (ii) …Was she the subject of a mental health inquiry? (ii) …Were there good cause or information before the Court, evidencing the unsoundness of mind? (iii) …Was she medically certified to be of unsound mind? (iv) …Was she a proper subject for confinement?’ The answers might be ‘…Blowing in the wind’ [Stevie Wonder: 1966].

THE CHARADE

Hoping that closure was brought to the ‘…Prosecutorial Charade,’ and clearly in control of his mental faculties, Senior Magistrate Rickie Burnette inquisitively asked, ‘…Where does the matter go from here?’ Seemingly not having a clue, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Colin Williams had not taken the Magistrate’s cue. This may have been observed when a clearly flabbergasted ‘DPP’ responded repetitively and indecisively, ‘…Where does the matter go from here?’ [IWN: January 29, 2018]. The learned ‘DPP’ may have been caught like a ‘…rat in a trap.’ However, if he had any clue, in view of the job description posted at the Government Website [Paras. 1 & 5], had he taken the Magistrate’s cue; he may have run the risk in incurring some kind of wrath.

WHERE TO GO

While the prosecutorial intent speaks to punishment, the public expectations speak to withdrawal of the charge. Such intent may have been discerned from his answer to the Court ‘…Where does the matter go from here?’ For reasons best known to him, he may have been impelled to suspend concentration on far more serious indictable matters to attend to a ‘…mundane offence.’ While the learned DPP would have been discharging a perfectly legal duty, albeit making advancing legal arguments respecting the mental capacity of the defendant, ‘…his intellect; …time and energy’ may have been more productively utilized. The simple answer, though not so simple for reasons of continuity of an untouchable constitutionally secured tenure, is to enter a ‘…Nolle prosequi.’

THE COMPOSURE

Notwithstanding the summary nature of the offence, the defence of insanity appeared far removed from all defence considerations. When the defendant appeared at the Kingstown Magistrate’s Court, she was reportedly calm and composed. Though under Court Orderlies watch, behaved normally, showing a pensive mood; …sat unrestrained and quietly entered the defendant’s box. These are obtained only by defendants in a mental state of normalcy. While there may be no evidence of collusion, speculations were rife over the prosecutorial developments in the ‘…Yugge Farrell Case.’ Those likely to be judged by history and posterity for her miseries are most likely to include, (i) …the overzealous arresting officer; (ii) …the objecting prosecutor; and (iii) …the adjudicator who had ordered the objectionable confinement to the institutionalized residence of certified lunatics.

THE RESCUE

When adversity strikes good natured and compassionate people with deep concern and love of humanity, often come to render much needed assistance. As the walls of the ‘…conceptualized world’ of the fashion model were about to collapse, a professionally-adept practicing attorney Grant Connell came to the ‘…Rescue.’ Committed to champion her cause, he voluntarily offered ‘…pro bono legal services’ to the ‘…State-suspected mentally unstable defendant.’ He may not only have harbored eerie feelings that she was facing imminent judicial danger, but also that which he may have seen as precariously looming, and known within judicial circles as ‘…Travesty of Justice’ [January 5, 2018]. That which may have been clear to him, was that there were even more ‘…crazy people sitting elsewhere’ than were resident at the ‘…Glenn psychiatric hospital.’ Besides that which he was witnessing, he too may have been subjected to psychiatric evaluation for his unsolicited legal services.

THE COMPASSIONATE

Moved by compassion, other regional practicing attorneys, including ‘…Vincentian-born attorney Kay Bacchus-Baptiste; …Barbadian-born Andrew Pilgrim QC; and …Grenadian-born attorney Anselm Clouden,’ have all offered pro bono legal services to the distraught defendant.’ The highly commendable gesture reflects more than a desire for ‘…selective prosecutions and pervasive injustice to cease. It augurs well for functional cooperation and fraternal relations between the Bench and the Bar. By extension, it is good for the further advancement in the regional integration process. Though the region is known for a culture of stigmatism, Yugge Farrell, now on bail, has experienced no such stigmatization. In the eyes of the people, she had been a ‘…victim of circumstance.’ She has been immortalized in the hearts of many. For many that had experience ‘…pervasive injustice,’ there is recourse. But for reasons of indigence, this often goes unchallenged.

THE RILE

Even as the crude expression had been officially reported to law enforcement, such expression is not unique to people of the region. From time immemorial, it has been the universally expressed language of people who may have been forced to react to personal situations. Even so, it was not necessarily the expression that had Vincentians at home, in the Diaspora and among the legal fraternity ‘…Riled up,’ but primarily the inhuman treatment meted out to the defendant by ‘…Law enforcement personnel; …the Prosecution and the Magistracy.’ These, no doubt, may have precipitated ‘…Jurisdictional Re-assignment’ of the esteemed adjudicator. These continue to attract widespread national and regional media coverage, equally as much as they continue to stimulate provocative debates by members of the public and among members of the legal fraternity.

PATIENT AND CAUSE

The First Aid principle has always been to ‘…Remove Patients from Causes or the ‘Causes’ from patients.’ That necessarily means a diagnostic approach to determine why patients got sick. Applied to the Judiciary, lest patients continue to remain on ‘…Sick Lists, there might be some causes that needs to be diagnosed. It was not clear how defendant Yugge Farrell or ‘pro bono attorney’ Grant Connell may have seen it. That, which may have been evident, was that law enforcement and judicial officers appeared to have shown systemic procedural deviations.’ These were known to have provoked public consternation and judicial censoring by the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (ECSC) and the London Privy Council (JCPC). Even though the ‘…re-assignment of Magistrate Bertie Pompey to a Country District’ might appease the public, reasonable inferences might still be drawn that the Judicial and Legal Services Commission might be merely treating a serious ‘…Judicial Symptom,’ and not the Cause.

THE DELAY

The ordinate delay in bringing persons to trial speaks to two constitutional issues; (i) …Cruel and inhuman treatment [SVG: CO: Section 5& Pratt & Morgan: 1993]; and (ii) ….Reasonable time for trial [Section 8].Yet in spite of the prolonged adjournment, albeit, for the defendant to regain control of her ‘…uncertified lunacy,’ the matter may very well succumb to ‘…natural death.’ Even so, it further begs the question, ‘…Was the extended adjournment for 11 months for an offence that neither affects the person or property of another, nor poses threat to national security, necessary? Yet his constitutional appointment and statutory powers, allows his office to ‘…Take over and continue or discontinue any criminal proceedings instituted or undertaken by himself or any other person or authority’ [SVG: CO: Section 81].

GLIMMER OF HOPE

Though the apparent ‘…mixed-up mood and attitude’ of the prosecution, suggests that the fate of the defendant, still precariously hangs in the balance, there is still a ‘…Glimmer of Hope.’ This might reasonably be inferred from the nation’s Prosecution Services. It may have been for reasons of justice and fair-play, the Prosecution Service has adopted for its guidance a ‘…Prosecutorial Code.’ This came from an appellate ruling some sixty four years ago. In the discharge of their prosecutorial duties, it partly states, ‘…It is to be efficiently done with an ingrained sense of the dignity, the seriousness and the justness of judicial proceedings’ [Boucher v R: 1954: 110: Supreme Court Canada: 256: SVG Govt. Website].

IGNORANCE OR INADVERTENCE

Seemingly by ‘…Ignorance or Inadvertence,’ the principle lay down in the ‘…Daniel M’Naghten (McNaghton) Case,’ appeared to have been completely overlooked or ignored. The defence of ‘…insanity’ appeared to have been far removed from consideration. But far from being surreptitious, it was the prosecution that had made the application for ‘…psychiatric evaluation.’ The judicial move provoked outcry by the citizenry and frequent reports in the media. It begs the question “…Why had the prosecution not apprised the Defence and the Court of ‘…privileged information,’ respecting the defendant’s mental state? The Defence was said to be seeking to invalidate the apparent ludicrous suggestion, by engaging the professional services of a forensic psychologist.

BIAS DECISION

None is infallible, and while Magistrates and Judges need no unsolicited advice or dictation, they still need to acquit themselves in a manner consistent with their intellect and impartiality. In their adjudicating role, they shall see themselves as conduits through which Justice flows to litigants and appellants. Respecting infallibility, there have been Cases on point, such as the recent Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (ECSC) reversion’ of an appellate ‘…Bias Decision’ by High Court Justice Brian Cottle. [IWN: March7, 2017]. Seemingly unconcerned about insult or injury, and more concerned with the fair and impartial dispensation of justice, the ‘ECSC’ ordered re-institution of Elections Petitions to be heard by an impartial tribunal. Reasonable inferences may have been drawn that Chief Justice, Dame Janice Pereira was ensuring that the integrity of the Judiciary was not compromised by perverse decisions.

CONCLUSION

If there are no harbored thoughts of biases in Magistrates, there may be no lingering feelings of judicial perversion in the minds of citizens. In discharging their judicial responsibilities, adjudicators shall divorce their minds from all extraneous matters, properly directing themselves, giving acute consideration to sworn evidence adduced before the Court. They shall convict when there was overwhelming and substantiating evidence. Conversely, they shall acquit when there was perverted or perjurous evidence; resolving ‘…reasonable doubt’ in favour of those standing before them. Most importantly, they shall ensure that ‘…Justice is not only seen to be done, but manifestly seen to have been done’ [1923: KB 233]. They shall always strive to promote the Judiciary as the ‘…Bastion of Hope.’ Since regional people harbor suspicions over the integrity and impartiality of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), sound Magisterial and Judicial decisions might just inspire confidence, necessary to stimulate growth in its membership. God help the Adjudicators; …God save the Courts; …God protect Justice. ***

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1 COMMENT

  1. May true JUSTICE prevail in this situation. “Gad nar sleep”

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