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Paula Llewellyn - A maverick in the legal profession
published: Sunday | August 28, 2005


Avia Ustanny, Outlook Writer

MAVIS LLEWELLYN, mother of Acting Director of Prosecutions Paula Llewellyn, and CEO of the Hyacinth Lightbourne nursing service for the last 46 years is ailing, much to the distress of her family.

'She is my rock, my rock of Gibraltar," sighed daughter Paula Llewellyn in a recent interview with Outlook. But, from her bed in the St. Andrew hospital, this woman has been telling her daughter to be strong - 'Especially now, Paula'.

"From as far back as I can remember, she has always insisted that there is no such word as can't," her daughter told Outlook. "Her motto which we have embraced, is positive thinking."

Her mother has provided the strong gusts of positive feedback that has propelled the woman who is now known in the courts and among her colleagues as 'Hurricane Paula' to her current position. Paula Llewellyn is the first woman to act as Director of Public Prosecutions, doing so on two occasions, in 1999 and in July of this year.

Public Defender, Howard Hamilton, Q.C. describes the prosecutor as "a most formidable opponent in the courtroom. She is fierce, but fair and a very responsible counsel."

The hurricane, known to her parents as Paula Vannessa Llewellyn, was born at the Jubilee Hospital to Mavis Llewellyn. She is one of two children born to this woman and real estate dealer Clinton Llewellyn. Paula attended St. Georges Primary School in Kingston and then went to St. Hughs High School.

Family tradition

"With the greatest of respect to my father, I must say that I come from a family of nurses," the prosecutor states. Her sister, Diane has followed the family tradition and is now practising nursing in Florida where she recently won a nurse of the year award.

"We grew up with the philosophy of service above self. Mother was called all hours of the night and she would go immediately to render assistance. The work ethic has been paramount for both my parents - the principle that you have to work in order to achieve," Llewellyn recalls. Service above self was a guiding principle in the Llewellyn family.

But, Paula was a very shy child.

"Nobody would believe this now. I thought myself to be a singularly unattractive child. I was considered a bookworm. I would rather read and talk and I had books everywhere - in the car, in my bedroom, in the living room - for just that reason. I really had a voracious appetite for books. I was very skinny, all elbows and knees - very scrawny." Her sister, she said, was the more mature-looking one.

Paula hid behind her 'cat-woman' glasses and books until she discovered within herself an ability to articulate, a love of persuasion and a flair for drama which included a healthy measure of flamboyance. There was also the constant encouragement of her mother who pushed positive thinking every day and, to back that up, haunted her children's classrooms to ensure that they were performing to her standards. The girls were allowed to go to parties, but they would be picked up at precise times by their mother.

Clinton Llewellyn is described by his daughter as a hurricane and typhoon combined. Her dad, she says was a hard taskmaster with a very low tolerance for mistakes. The Acting DPP says she has inherited his fondness for high standards of work.

In her mother's words: "Delinquent parents are those who, irrespective of their material status, refuse to take responsibility - morally and ethically . They refuse to teach them about respect and living by principles."

Whenever her children fell ill with colds, they were medicated and dropped off at their classrooms. No excuses were good enough for missing school. When her daughter decided to do law, Mavis Llewellyn was happy that she had chosen what was right for her.

Paula Llewellyn attended the University of the West Indies and the Norman Manley Law School and was appointed a clerk in the St. James Resident Magistrate's court. She had done her internship in Antigua and resisted the temptation to continue her career there.

"I think, if you have had your education paid for by tax payers it is only right that you give back."

In Montego Bay, she was severely tempted to run back home to her mother. On the very first night in the town, she and her roommate were robbed of valuables.

The experience of clerkship was also a difficult one, made harder by the fact that she had to learn the system - including the intricacies of the police force - from 'scratch' and that she had to supervise individuals in the courts who were much older than she was.

Accepting the sharp words of Mavis Llewellyn: 'Be positive. You were sent down there for a purpose', she stayed.

Early setbacks were put aside and Paula's true nature soon asserted itself. In the courts, she performed with precision and aplomb and by 1986, she was promoted to act as Crown Counsel in the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions. Within seven years of going to the DPP's office, she was appointed as Deputy Director of Prosecutions.

Her two mentors then were the former DPP Glen Andrade and Mrs. Justice Marva McIntosh. Justice Marva McIntosh told Outlook,: "In the first case assigned she was my junior. We went to St. Catherine Circuit Court and the court house promptly burnt down after seven cases. But, Paula was very enthusiastic and keen."

In two decades of working in the DPP's office, Paula Llewellyn says she has had the honour of trying cases with all Queen's Counsels, including Prime Minister P. J Patterson himself, Lord Gifford, Frank Phipps and the late Ian Ramsay Q.C., among others, who have practised at the criminal bar.


"You are only as good an advocate as the adversary you have to meet. All the Queen's Counsels have contributed to my success," the prosecutor states.

Howard Hamilton told Outlook: "I have the highest respect for her in and out of the courtroom. Her word is her bond."

Sharon Barnes, a junior Crown Counsel comments: "When it comes to trials, I have found her extremely thorough and excellent on her feet. She is very forthright."

Paula Llewellyn admits that her forthrightness and commitment to doing what she believes is best in the public's interest has alienated some people and may have even taken away her chances of promotion.

But, predictably, it is from the collected wisdom of her mother that she draws an answer. "My mother also taught me that service above self might mean foregoing promotions. It may mean not getting the recognition you deserve, you will have given a high quality of service and not received the desired results."

Llewellyn's name has been associated with such high-profile cases as the Caldon Finance Group debacle, the Braeton Killings and the Joel Andem case, but she says that success for her has never involved notoriety.

She gets satisfaction from ordinary people, including jurors and relatives of those who have been affected by crime, who tell her that they believe that she did the very best she could.

Simple praise

There was one juror, a police constable she said, who turned in a vote of guilty against a co-worker involved in a murder case and who later told her that he had wanted to support his colleague, but that he was convinced by her presentation and her 'killer' smile. It is for such simple and sincere praise that she lives.

She used to be frequently asked, she said, to join other attorneys of note in their chambers, but now, she says, her colleagues have come to accept that she is called to prosecution in the same way that nuns embrace their spiritual calling.

Paula Llewellyn has a recipe for her kind of success, one that she says females who work in what is still a man's world would do well to note.

"As a female professional in a man's world, positive thinking is a must. Second, one must have confidence in yourself and your ability. Third, you have to have 'stick-to-itiveness'. Fourth, you have to maintain high professional standards and be prepared to work very, very hard, even when others try to derail you. Finally, you also need a winning smile. You must be like a horse with blinkers, saying I am doing what is right."


In the last two decades, Llewellyn has whirled on despite what she cagily describes, as less than smooth sailing. In March 1999, she was appointed as senior Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions and in May of that year, became the first woman to be appointed to act as Director of Public Prosecutions.

All of these are experiences, she has enjoyed. She has also loved time spent representing the office at seminars and workshops in Europe, Central America and Caribbean.

"I give my all. I give 100 per cent to every case irrespective of whether it is a cause célèbre or mundane issues."


Ms. Llewellyn admits that she maintains a schedule that sometimes causes her to lose weight. Her six-year-old daughter she says, frequently announces to those within earshot at home that her mother is 'doing her homework', work that sometimes takes her until 3:00 a.m.

The prosecutor's limited spare time is spent reading, watching cricket, listening to classical music, attending church and participating at her toastmasters' club.

She concludes, "You have be your own motivator. Set your own criteria for success."

In her lowest moments, her mother's words return: "Be strong, Paula. Especially now."

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