By Latrishka Thomas
After spending three months out of office on “special leave”, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) resumed his regular duties yesterday.
DPP Anthony Armstrong, a Jamaican, proceeded on leave in February after he was found guilty of professional misconduct by Jamaica’s Disciplinary Committee – the General Legal Council (GLC).
The GLC found that he acted contrary to the laws of Jamaica when he signed as a witness to a document for a client who was not physically present.
Michael Adams, the man who brought the accusations against Armstrong, told the council, through his attorneys, that Armstrong had represented him in the purchase of three properties between 1999 and 2002, during which time he resided in the United States of America.
He said he often paid Armstrong in cash for his legal services when he would visit Jamaica.
However, in 2003, Adams was imprisoned in the US.
About one year later, he reportedly inquired about the properties and discovered that all three properties had been transferred and sold, allegedly without his consent.
The document pertaining to the sale of at least one of the properties had his signature affixed to it. The document also indicated that Armstrong had witnessed the signing.
While the council was not satisfied that the properties were sold without Adams’ consent, they reprimanded the attorney for signing as a witness knowing that Adams, who was in prison in the US at the time, was not present.
The council described the attorney’s actions as being “the height of recklessness” and a move that could discredit the legal profession.
“By witnessing a legal document, the witness is saying that he saw the person sign the same which was not true,” the report read.
After the ruling came to light, Armstrong had initially intended to resign his position with immediate effect, pending the appeal, but the decision was taken that he would proceed on “special leave” instead.
Attorney General Steadroy Benjamin told Observer that the appeal has been filed and “status quo ante must remain, meaning situations remain as they were as though nothing had ever happened”.
“The case is now before the Court of Appeal awaiting a listing and a hearing but until that time the status quo ante must remain,” he added.
Meanwhile, Chief Magistrate Joanne Walsh who was acting in Armstrong’s position for the last three months, has returned to manage the magistracy.