For the first time in Jamaica’s legal history, a senior prosecutor has been found guilty of professional misconduct, resulting in her being suspended from practising law for a period of six months.
The order against attorney-at-law and prosecutor, Sophia Thomas, becomes effective on November 1, 2022.
In its determination of Thomas’ penalty on Friday, the General Legal Council (GLC) also ordered her to pay a total of $400,000 in legal costs.
Of that figure, a sum of $100,000 is to be paid for the legal costs of the complainant, Lowell Spence, a bank manager, while $300,000 is to be paid to cover the GLC’s legal costs.
Further, the prosecutor was instructed to participate in two ethic courses.
However, her legal team has given notice that it will be challenging the GLC’s verdict in the matter by way of the Court of Appeal.
Earlier this year, the disciplinary committee of the GLC, after examining evidence that was presented before it, found that while Thomas was employed to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP), she went against the canons of professional ethics governing the legal profession.
This was purportedly done when Thomas was prosecuting a fraud case against Spence on behalf of the ODPP in the Kingston and St Andrew Parish Court in November of 2017.
During the trial, Spence’s legal team complained that a statement that was being used by Thomas was not the original document. Hence, the defence alleged that the then prosecutor used false evidence and/or participated in the creation or use of evidence that she knew to be false.
Thomas rejected those assertions, but the fraud case against Spence collapsed after Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Paula Llewellyn, intervened in the matter and offered no further evidence against the bank manager.
However, Spence went ahead and filed a complaint against Thomas in 2019, relative to the false evidence claim against her at his trial.
Thomas was on secondment in the Turks and Caicos Islands working as a senior public prosecutor when she resigned in mid-August shortly after the GLC found her guilty of professional misconduct in July.