Wednesday, January 2, 2013

A Nolle Prosequi

A Nolle Prosequi

According to Wikipedia, a nolle prosequi is a legal term that means “unwilling to pursue” and “do not prosecute”. It is usually made after an indictment against an individual or individuals. A nolle prosequi is a withdrawal of the claim against a defendant by the prosecutor, but the charges can be filed again at a later date.

The most famous nolle prosequi case I remember in the Bahamas involved former Attorney General (AG), Sir Orville Turnquest. He did not prosecute defendant John Moscow who was accused of discharging a weapon and killing a male who I believe was fleeing the Moscow family property at the time.

Just last week, the Attorney General’s (AG’s) office was unwilling to prosecute a case involving the discovery of a 380 pistol and 19 rounds of ammunition in the home of John and Janice Hayes. The interesting thing about this case is that the present AG, Allison Maynard Gibson, was the defense lawyer for the Hayes under the Free National Movement (FNM) administration in 2010. Senator John Delaney was the AG at this time.

Now hear this, when the nolle prosequi was re-filed last week, Gibson was conveniently out of the country. Acting AG Jerome Fitzgerald signed the order. He said that he will not go into details as to why the AG’s office moved in this direction, but he did say that it was a matter of national security.

Fitzgerald’s statement caused my curiosity to be heightened. Former AG Delaney who brought charges against this couple certainly did not see this as a national security issue. If he did, he and the former government had ample time to take this course of action. How is it that the new Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) government now sees this as a national security issue after two years? Was the FNM that incompetent?

I submit that on the surface there appears to be an abuse of power by the present AG’s office. An illegal 380 pistol and 19 illegal live rounds of ammunition found in a draw certainly leaves Bahamians wondering how is it that this decision was made. I have several questions for the AG’s office.

(1). Was this couple involved in a sting operation for the government of the Bahamas and if so why wasn’t the weapon and ammunition registered.

(2). Why weren’t the police and the national security minister aware of this? Obviously the commissioner of police, Ellison Greenslade and former national security minister, Tommy Turnquest had no knowledge of this case providing a security threat to the Bahamas.

(3). Why did it take so long for the present government to realize that this was a matter of national security? Or is this just a matter of someone’s friend cousin uncle being in trouble and requires a favor?

(3). Will these type of cases be made public under the Freedom of Information Act?

I wonder if we will hear from former attorney general, Anthony Delaney on this matter. He certainly did not have any information that this was a matter of national security because I believed that he would have acted accordingly. We all know that Hubert Ingraham would not have allowed this matter to drag on had he believed that this case was a threat to the security of the country.

I think the AG’s office has some more explaining to do. On Maynard’s return to the country, the fourth estate really needs to dig deeper and question her extensively on this matter. This act does not maintain the faith that citizens have in the AG’s office, but rather it erodes it. They say that the truth will set you free and in this case Bahamians wants to know the truth behind the Hayes being set free.

Dehavilland Moss



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