CRIMINAL ELEMENTS GRAVITATE TO DANCEHALL EVENTS?

MCTV NEWS Reprinted from Images Newsletter


FL: Professor David Rowe is a celebrated trial attorney who practices in Florida and is an attorney in Jamaica. He is also an Adjunct Professor of Law at the University of Miami School of Law, who has more than 30 years experience in Federal and State matters.

He teaches Caribbean Law at the University of Miami Law School. His late father was the retired president of the Jamaican Court of Appeal, Hon. Ira D. Rowe O.J. Professor Rowe has represented several dancehall artists in various matters over the years and Dave Rodney speaks exclusively with him on the recent Vybz Kartel murder trial and conviction of DJ Vybz Kartel and others.

DAVE RODNEY First, what is your view on the notion that there is a link between criminality and dancehall music?

DAVID ROWE There is a strongly held notion that Dancehall performers are also engaged in criminal misconduct including sale of narcotics and distribution of guns. The criminal element gravitates in large numbers at Dancehall events.

RODNEY I know you followed the Vybz Kartel case closely in Jamaica and you were at points present at the court. Were you surprised by the verdict?

ROWE I was not surprised by the verdict. There is a large amount of circumstantial evidence introduced against Mr. Palmer. I had expected that verdict, particularly as Mr. Palmer did not take the stand in his own defense.

RODNEY Some people say that in light of all the problems that are faced by the criminal justice system in Jamaica, this case was a litmus test for the system itself. Is this your view and are there grounds for a celebration party?

ROWE No celebration party. The scrupulously careful method that we expected the police to demonstrate, in preserving evidence was not apparent. An identifiable evidence technician in the police force must always have physical custody of the evidence representing in court.

*RODNEY What were the strengths of the case presented by the prosecution?

ROWE The case against Mr. Palmer is very circumstantial, however the strength in the case was the large amount of evidence presented and the number of eye witnesses that took the stand.

RODNEY What were the weaknesses of the arguments presented by the defense?

ROWE The defense was weak. It failed to prove a conspiracy against Mr. Palmer.

RODNEY How do you feel about the integrity of the forensic evidence presented in this case?

ROWE I believe that the forensic evidence may have been tampered with.

RODNEY How does evidence preservation in the United States compare with Jamaica?

ROWE In the United States , evidence preservation is sophisticated and must meet the evidentiary standards set by the Bench and the Bar. Most of the exhibits admitted in Mr. Palmer's case in Jamaica would not have been admitted as evidence in the United States due to tampering. In the United States, in cases relating to forensic evidence, the evidence collected must utilize tamper proofs basin.

RODNEY What is the significance of one juror being charged for offering bribes? Could this lead to a stunning revelation?

ROWE We have had great amount of corruption in Jamaica, involving jurors and bribes. Some Jamaican attorneys are known as "Jury Doctors" because of their capacity to bribe jurors . This could lead to another conviction for Mr. Palmer.

RODNEY Do you think there are any significant grounds for an appeal?

ROWE I think that there is significant grounds of appeal because of the unprofessional maintenance of evidence by the police.

RODNEY You have been a defense attorney in several murder trials. How does the level of brutality here compare to other cases you have seen?

ROWE This was a vicious and brutal murder.

RODNEY How does the Vybz Kartel case compare with the Buju Banton case that you are also familiar with?

ROWE These two cases do not compare. Mr. Palmer allegedly participated in a brutal murder, Buju was linked to co conspirators.

Photo Captions: from (l) Vybz Kartel before and after and David Rowe

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