There’s uncertainty regarding the tenure of the country’s Director of Public Prosecutions, DPP, Paula Llewelyn, and whether that office is now vacant.

This is after the Constitutional Court struck down an amendment that allowed Miss Llewellyn to elect to stay in office beyond her 63rd birthday.

That extension effectively granted the country’s chief prosecutor a second extension in her tenure.

But on Friday, Justices Sonya Wint Blair, Simone Wolfe Reece, and Tricia Hutchinson Shelly struck down that extension as unconstitutional, null, void, and of no legal effect.

Ricardo Brooks has been reading the ruling.

The landmark judgement was handed down shortly after 10 Friday morning. It runs for 58 pages.

In it, the three justices held that the amendment that extended the retirement age for the Director of Public Prosecution from 60 to 65 was validly enacted into law.

That’s Section 2, Subsection 1 of the amendment passed in July last year by the Holness administration. That’s been found to be proper and lawful.

It’s Section 2, Part 2, which has been found to be constitutionally infirmed and has provided the latest legal headache for the Holness administration. 

Of note is the fact that the court revealed that Prime Minister Andrew Holness initially denied Paula Llewellyn’s request for a second extension in office.

It’s not clear who impressed upon Mr. Holness to amend the Constitution to grant the extension.

The unanimous court reasoned that by passing the amendment, the Holness administration conferred a power on Paula Llewellyn that was never contemplated by the drafters of Jamaica’s Constitution.

The judges held that the framers of the Constitution did not empower the holder of the office of DPP, who they describe as a public servant, to decide the terms and conditions of service, or on retirement from office.

The judges say the DPP has no right to remain in office beyond retirement, which is why the office holder had to formally write requesting an extension in the first place.

They say by allowing Miss Llewellyn to elect to remain in office beyond retirement and beyond her first extension, the Holness administration conferred a right on her where none existed.

They describe the actions of the government as a fundamental departure from what was intended by the framers of Jamaica’s Constitution.

Importantly, the judges say that by passing the amendment, the government created a power that Miss Llewellyn would be able to enjoy to the exclusion of the opposition leader.

The judges say they are not satisfied that the power to enlarge the terms and conditions of service or the retirement age of the DPP can be conferred upon the DPP by way of her electing to remain in office, as no such right exists.

The judges say even though the raising of the retirement age for the Office of the DPP was a lawful amendment, it cannot apply to Paula Llewellyn because she had already reached the age of retirement and, at the time the law was amended, was nearing the completion of the end of her first lawful extension.

The court says the amendment in Section 2, Subsection 2, cannot therefore be lawfully applied to Paula Llewellyn. The court therefore severed that section from the Constitution and struck it down as unconstitutional. 

The question is now whether Paula Vanessa Llewellyn, King’s Counsel, the first woman to wield the country’s prosecutorial power, is at this hour validly holding office.