I had decided not to pay too much attention by way of this blog to the mess that Reverend Al Miller has gotten himself into regarding the recently concluded court case where he was found guilty for perverting the course of justice in the Christopher ‘Dudus” Coke matter. But the colour of this thing has changed so fast within the last 48 hours and raises several concerns with regards to honesty, social capital when it comes to pastors, crime and moral authority or moral equivalences. In previous posts on the man I had tried to show how dishonest if not lacking moral authority he can be in his public utterances when it comes to homosexuality and in his advocacy in the charter of rights and buggery law matters as far back as 1998 when the first parliamentary submission was made by then a more prudent JFLAG but in recent days hence since he paid the million dollar fine and missed the twelve month sentence in lieu of non-payment he has been on a campaign to supposedly ‘clear the air’ as he puts it. A press conference yesterday at his church he tried to but as one reporter who was there lamented it was more a church service than a press meeting designed to ‘clear the air’ or misconceptions. The thing instead left more questions than answers and effectively became an ill-fated exercise by the time it was finished with rude and impudent congregants and supporters were up in arms as to the questions being posed by media representatives.
Reverend Miller’s truthfulness or the lack thereof was confirmed as was found in the recently concluded trial where the trial judge herself Simone Wolf-Reece commented in explaining her judgement that Miller was less than candid about the sequence of events regarding the exchanges with the fugitive Dudus Coke, then Police Commissioner Owen Ellington and Reverend Hero Blair a former Ombudsman. Miller too tried to evade some of the questions by claiming the media was knit picking but even with the bigger picture he could stand up to scrutiny.
Despite Miller claiming outside the courtroom at the time of the judgement at the St Andrew Parish court last Friday with a throng of supporters that he was done with the matter and he respected the courts judgement and would not appeal he has still sought to proceed to label the former Commish Ellington as betraying him after in his mind he thought that he and Ellington had some agreement (in Miller’s mind) that he could intervene in getting Coke to surrender to the police prior to the state of emergency. But Dudus Coke’s response when pressed by Miller was that the police should come for him and ‘come good’ obviously that comment and the last two words therein are ominous as delivered on May 22, 2010, the incursion came on May 24, 2010. That should have been the end of the matter in as far as Miller’s intervention as the subject did not take the offer up to turn himself him. Yet Miller exactly one month later June 22, 2010 decided to re-engage Coke with the perception he had some clearance or agreement from Ellington despite he (Miller) did not engage Ellington directly but an aid to the man and no permission or clearance of same was issued.
The arrogance also coming from this post court judgement is disgusting to say the least with grandstanding on piety as its mode of transport and Miller’s own declaration that he would have done it again if he had to do so; yet so many questions now exist after this latest press conference yet again as before in 2010 when it was announced he was asked some of them.
Why was Miller so insistent on getting involved in this matter despite other more experienced Reverends such as Hero Blair who knew where Coke was actually saw Coke a short time prior by way of his own public utterances after the court ruling but did not move him but did engage him prior to the state of emergency and hence?
Can this man (Miller) be trusted with anything anymore as it is unusual to have a man of the cloth with two convictions still in operation so openly thinking he is infallible in some way and playing a victimhood card?
Does his church have a board of governors and if so why was some action taken in this matter from the get go or is Miller the head cook and bottle washer of his set up?
Did Miller know that by admitting he was taking Coke to a foreign power he was exposing himself? owing to the fact that the US Embassy does not have powers of arrest and have to go through the extradition treaty which kicks in to see if the person is extraditable and if the fugitive surrenders his rights then the proceedings would have been truncated.
Was Miller aware that no native can go to a foreign power or dictate to which foreign power he can be taken to such in order to surrender without bypassing the local authorities?
In light of Miller and his attorney claiming Owen Ellington betrayed him (Miller) why didn’t the defence counsel and the prosecution/crown counsel did not negotiate the witness list as is customary?
Was Miller less than open with the truth given his statement to the police seems not to declare he had any ‘agreement’ or led any evidence of such with the then Police Commissioner? The Commissioner would not make an agreement to violate the law.
Was Miller not aware that by passing so many police stations en route to Kingston that he was in fact aiding and abetting the fugitive in his company?
If Al Miller knew he had no ‘agreement’ with the then Commissioner would not that be tantamount to asking Ellington to come into court and perjure himself and hence exposing him (Ellington) to being charged?
Was Mr Coke a holder of dual citizenship and if so could the US Embassy take over the matter by way of extradition?
What is meant by Miller’s claim that he is interested in the ‘bigger picture’ and does he feels he can override the law because he is a clergyman?
Will he still remain as a member of Jamaica Coalition for a Healthy Society, JCHS or associated with the antigay campaign given his credibility is yet again?
If Miller and his attorney thought or felt so strongly as to the importance of Ellington as a material witness why did he and his counsel sought to persuade the court to have the prosecution/Director of Public Prosecution, DPP acquiesce to serving a subpoena by way of the judge to have Ellington attend the proceedings via a motion in leniency? The court could have made a ruling if that route was attempted and media reports of the trial do not suggest same.
To think that it is persons such as this Reverend with questionable character who wish to defend religiosity and moral correctness yet by their own actions or words defile themselves. He has grandstanding on calling homosexuals abnormal, even after being convicted for the missing gun charge a year prior he remained adamant in his antigay advocacy. What we all thought to be end of the matter has only been given more life and legs to his own condemnation. Miller must also now realise that his privileges if not powers as a minister is greatly reduced, he cannot sign certain documents given notoriety to applications, co-signing a loan, applying for shared credit, bank accounts etc that may require such, he may not be able to travel to some jurisdictions for a time with a conviction, he cannot be a juror or a justice of the peace, JP; what authority can he have now lead a flock who are so wedded to him that they fail to see the larger picture but buy into the pretentious piety Miller is trying to spin.
What made this case different in my view was that the apprehension by Miller of Coke was done during special times in the form of a state of emergency as opposed to peaceful times and his own declaration he was meaning to take Coke to the US Embassy. Had he stopped at a police precinct and or the Police Commissioner’s office as the reason used to justify the disguised move via cross dress is that Coke feared he would be killed by local police things may have turned out way differently on Miller’s part; as it turns out he still had to be turned over to them when after an extended chase and capture at a cordon on St Catherine. Coke cannot determine his destination if it is he wanted to hand over himself and bearing in mind in the aforementioned message that the cops should ‘come good’
Miller should have extirpated himself from the matter altogether after the message which he conveyed to the Commissioner’s office prior to the incursion in Tivoli Gardens. As some have commented Miller got a slap on the wrist and the press conference yesterday he should have just moved on and not bother with it. Miller seems not to understand that what one puts on a statement must also carry through to every other part of the case, adjudication and court proceedings.
More anon although today the media landscape was quiet on the matter for the most part save and except a Gleaner article and a TVJ report on the same night. I have to agree with Reverend Garnet Roper (strange eh?) but even he has seen the spin that Miller is trying to put on this to paint the unofficial working relationship between clergymen, fugitives and established practices over decades. He highlighted in an interview with another antigay pastor Reverend Clinton Chisholm ironically where he said nothing in the Coke matter has disturbed the long held mostly cordial relations between police and pastors, he hinted however that with this matter as it has turned out may cause some unease in future professional engagements in handling such matters. The matter of traditional denominations versus newer ones who are also accommodated to operate in the protocol is interesting to note, there is a school of thought that more established churches have a more organised or trained clergymen in such matters versus a one man superstar pastor, the latter are not trained in clericalism, theology or in Bible, effectively a bishop does not have to have a church and think they can operate by mere salvation or seeing Calvary. The snickering from sections of clergy is telling with regards to the latter matters hence the ignorance of conventions.
Peace & tolerance