DPP's lawyers want apology for AG's criticisms

Attorney General Reginald Armour, SC - Photo by Sureash Cholai
Attorney General Reginald Armour, SC - Photo by Sureash Cholai

STATE attorneys at the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) have sent Attorney General Reginald Armour a two-page letter, delivered to his secretary on Wednesday, demanding that he apologise to the office of the DPP.

The letter was dropped off by at least 16 attorneys shortly after Armour met with DPP Roger Gaspard.

Gaspard and Armour met for close to three hours at Armour’s office on Richmond Street, Port of Spain.

In the letter the attorneys highlight the work they do with limited staff and the toll they say it takes on them.

Last Saturday, Armour issued a statement via WhatsApp saying the DPP’s office was underperforming.

His comment was a direct response to Gaspard's saying his office has 58 attorneys, some with little or no court experience and was hamstrung by "an acute and chronic" staff shortage that affected its ability to prosecute cases in every court in the country.

Armour said: "That is an unsatisfactory explanation for under-performance of the DPP. Other critical arms of the criminal justice system are also operating below capacity, yet far more effectively. We need to critically examine what are the systemic issues that are hampering the performance of the DPP’s office."

In their letter, which was signed “All Professional Staff” the attorneys said: “We, the state attorneys of the DPP, formally express our disappointment with these comments. They do not accurately reflect the efforts and commitment of the staff at this office. These statements present a distorted view of the existing reality and are likely to undermine public confidence in this office.”

The attorneys said with limited staff and an increased workload, they have been performing and are committed to their jobs, despite having to sacrifice personal and family time. They said this affected them not only mentally, but physically as well, and some have fallen ill because of the workload.

They urged the AG: “We call upon you to issue a public apology to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and retraction of these unfounded claims.”

The day after Gaspard expressed his concern over the staff shortage, the Prime Minister said, at a public meeting in Barataria, many state entities are starved for resources, and called on the DPP to do like others and “make the most with what you have.”

Dr Rowley then said the DPP failed to occupy a building on Park and Henry Street, which cost taxpayers over $40 million for retrofitting and leasing.

The attorneys said the directive to immediately vacate their current location at Winsure Building, Richmond Street for the Park Street building, “serves as a further blow to our physical and mental well-being.

“We have been informed by the DPP that the Special Branch advised against occupation of that building without implementation of the suggested recommendations. Given the fact that the Special Branch Unit is specialised in the assessment of a range of security threats for executives, including the President and our own knowledge of the location of that building, we, the attorneys, are unwilling to occupy the Park Court Building, where we are likely to be the subjects of criminal attacks. This is especially so as many of us have already suffered the trauma of perilous encounters with accused persons, their associates and families.”


"DPP’s lawyers want apology for AG’s criticisms"

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