City firms score death row wins

CITY firms Lawrence Graham and SJ Berwin have scored a victory for death row clients in Jamaica.

Lawrence Graham has persuaded the Privy Council to quash a Jamaican death row conviction in the same week SJ Berwin won a last-minute stay of execution for another death row prisoner, Neville Lewis.

The Privy Council's intervention has fuelled Caribbean moves to scrap its jurisdiction over criminal cases.

Lawrence Graham's junior counsel Murray Shanks, of Fountain Court Chambers, says: “Cases like this demonstrate the value of the Privy Council.”

The Jamaican Capital Cases Panel of the London Panel of Solicitors referred the case of John Mitchell, who was awaiting execution on death row, to commercial firm Lawrence Graham, one of the City firm panellists.

Lawrence Graham litigation partner Caroline May, who took the case on a pro bono basis, says the “exceptional result” is the first step on the road to justice for her client.

“The Privy Council rarely intervenes,” she says.

Lawrence Graham instr-ucted Philip Sapsford QC of Goldsmith's Chambers.

SJ Berwin's success, pending an appeal to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, in Lewis' case has firmed up Caribbean resolve to scrap the Privy Council's jurisdiction.

More than a year after plans to set up a Caribbean Court of Justice were revealed, the Privy Council remains the last appeal court for convicts sentenced to death.