The judgment of the Constitutional case in the High Court brought by Eugene St. Romaine against the Government of St. Lucia was delivered yesterday 30th May, 2012 by Justice Francis Belle.
Mr. St. Romaine has been charged with the offence of murder of Ms. Verlinda Joseph in December 2002. He has been in custody on remand awaiting trial.
In his case against the Government, Mr. St. Romaine asked the Court to bring his criminal trial to a halt because he alleges:
1. That there was an excessive delay in bringing him to trial.
2. He was entitled to the same number of expert witnesses as the State.
The Court disagreed with Mr. St. Romaine and denied his request to dismiss the charge. The court ruled that notwithstanding the length of time that has elapsed in bringing the matter to trial the case should not be dismissed. Rather, the Court ruled that the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) should proceed with the criminal trial against Mr. St. Romaine. However, Mr. St. Romaine will be allowed on bail while he awaits the outcome of his trial. He will also be allowed a DNA expert to assist him in his defense. The Attorney General’s Chambers and the Office of the DPP states categorically that contrary to statements made to and by the media the criminal trial against Mr. St. Romaine has not been dismissed. Any such suggestions are mischievous and may amount to contempt of court.
The state has been prepared to proceed with the trial of this matter since early 2010. From that time substantial delay can be attributed to both Mr. St. Romaine defense and his filing of the constitutional claim against the Government. Consistent with the ruling of the court and the DPP readiness to proceed, the trial of the case against Mr. St. Romaine will be listed shortly.
The State remains committed to ensuring that justice is done for the death of Ms. Verlinda Joseph
The Director of Public Prosecutions wishes to inform all media houses that it is an offence to:-
1. Publish any matter which is likely to prejudice the fair trial or conduct of
2. To publish any matter which prejudges issues which are to be tried or are
being tried before the Court;
3. To publish any matter which is calculated to bring the Court or a
Judge into contempt or to lower his or her authority or the lawful process
of the Court;
4. To make any false or misleading statement either orally or in writing to or
concerning a judge or Magistrate in respect of the performance of his
function which is calculated or is likely to bring him or her into ridicule,
odium or contempt.
This constitutes the offence of contempt of Court under Section 390 of the Criminal Code 2004 and carries a penalty of two years imprisonment.
Prior to and since the judgment of the High Court in Eugene St. Romaine v The Attorney General, there have been reports on the media relating to the guilt or innocence of Eugene St. Romaine; the facts of the case for which is currently before the Courts; the quality or sufficiency of the evidence; the conduct or performance of the judge who gave the ruling, and the Court process.
These discussions surround matters and issues to be decided at the Trial of Mr. St. Romaine by a judge and jury. The voicing of opinions in the media on these matters prejudges these issues and are likely to be prejudicial to Mr. Eugene and can affect the outcome of the Trial.
The judgment of Justice Bell has not affected the criminal charge against Mr. Eugene St. Romaine for murder of Verlinda Joseph on 4th December, 2002.
Mr. St. Romaine shall stand trial for the offence on a date to be fixed by the Judge of the Criminal Division.
Therefore, all the laws and rules governing the trial of criminal cases apply to this case.
Consequently, the various discussions, opinions and comments surrounding the facts of the criminal case and the legal issues to be determined by the Court should not be discussed by the Media.
Media houses are therefore advised to desist from discussing issues relating to the facts and the legal issues which will arise at the trial of Mr. Eugene St. Romaine for the murder of Verlinda Joseph. Members of the public should not be encouraged or facilitated in discussion of these matters.
Media houses will be held liable for any breaches of the Criminal Law as stated.
RAULSTON GLASGOWVICTORIA CHARLES-CLARKE
Solicitor GeneralDirector of Public Prosecutions
Attorney General’s ChambersCrown Prosecution Service
Ministry of Legal Affairs
31st May, 2012