Thursday, February 22, 2018

Juror replaced

‘Issues’ brought to judge’s attention...

ONE of the jurors in the Vindra Naipaul-Coolman murder trial was discharged by Justice Malcolm Holdip at the Hall of Justice in Port of Spain yesterday following a week of in-camera legal submissions after certain issues were brought to the attention of the judge.

The juror was replaced by one of the alternates with Justice Holdip reminding the remaining jurors they should not seek to find out or speculate why the juror was discharged, saying it was a legal decision taken by the court.

After the juror was allowed to leave the Second Criminal Court, Holdip directed the jury’s foreman to enquire from other jury members if they had any difficulties in continuing to listen to evidence in the matter in an unbiased way in the absence of the juror.

Following a brief consultation with the jurors, the foreman indicated there were no difficulties saying: “Nobody have no problem (sic). They can go on with the case as normal.”

Holdip proceeded to remind the jury that during the course of the trial there were going to be delays as objections were raised by both defence and State attorneys during which the jury will be required to leave the courtroom to facilitate legal arguments.

The judge pointed out “this is not what you see on TV where everybody is sitting and going nowhere. In a real-life criminal trial the jury will from time-to-time be asked to leave the courtroom”.

He also reminded them they were free to express their opinions once in the confines of the jury room but to refrain from doing so while in the courtroom.

“Once you are up there (the jury room) whatever you say or do is none of my business. I am not telling you to go up there and fight you know...

“It is expected the group dynamic would allow you to discuss issues and have opinions that differ,” said Holdip.

When the matter resumes this morning, defence attorneys Joseph Pantor and Lennox Sankarsingh are expected to begin their cross-examination of police photographer acting Cpl Bruce James.

James was the officer who took several photographs in and around two houses at Upper La Puerta Avenue, Diego Martin, on the morning of January 6, 2007, as police continued their investigations into the kidnapping of Naipaul-Coolman on the night of December 19, the year before.