Chief Justice Designate Marston Gibson Update: Barbados Bar Association Backing Government – Is Justice In Barbados Being Slowly But Steadily Compromised?

Submitted by Thomas A. Harper

Were it not for this alternative, the impotence or cowardice of the local news media would have left us without an avenue through which to express legitimate concerns regarding the administration of certain sectors of the people’s affairs.

While we are aware that democracy is only a process through which we get to elect our dictators, we must exercise what freedom we still have to express our views, even as the press cowers behind its self-imposed iron curtain.

Be that as it may, in view of certain recent disturbing trends emerging within our judiciary that are excusably perceived to be bringing comfort to none other than the lawless, the following questions must be asked.

Is it now impossible to commit murder in Barbados?

Has the right to say no to sex on demand at anytime or under any conditions or circumstances been revoked?

Is saying no to sex on demand at any time and under any conditions or circumstances now reclassified as provocation?

Is it now the legal position that brutally killing a person for saying no to sex on demand at any time and under any conditions or circumstances be considered a provocation?

Is it now the legal position that saying no to sex on demand at any time and under any conditions or circumstances considered a provocation the magnitude of which evokes more sympathy for the killer than it does for the victim?

Why has it becoming increasingly and alarmingly difficult to distinguish the role of the prosecutor from that of the defense attorney?

Why do pleas accepted and sentences handed down for taking a life cease to reflect punishment that fits the crime, or come even remotely close to justice appearing to have been done?

Is plea-bargaining (which very closely resembles legalized perjury) that facilitates the perpetrators desire for a slap on the wrist not a slap in the face of their victims?

Is the ever increasing easy access to the plea bargain designed to eliminate the work required to prove the commission of the actual crime committed, thereby   facilitating the desire for shorter work days and getting everyone home early?

With the ever reducing options of self-defense open to victims of criminal assault, what message do these disturbing trends sent to callous killers, and perpetrators of heinous crime, or is the message intended for us their future victims?

I am fully aware that posing queries of this nature is like tiptoeing through the an over active minefield, and that they are very likely to arouse more rancor for the person posing them than for the perpetrator of senseless brutal killings. However, someone must seek to raise awareness of a problem that left unaddressed will inevitably bring us very close to the Jamaica experience. Unlike the press, being neither impotent or cowardly, I have chosen to be that someone who dares raise awareness of these troubling emerging trends, and call for recognizable justice to be restored, and bear any consequences of so doing.

0 thoughts on “Chief Justice Designate Marston Gibson Update: Barbados Bar Association Backing Government – Is Justice In Barbados Being Slowly But Steadily Compromised?

  1. Amused;

    Your oft quoted thesis about the judical system in Barbados and the need for it to be thoroughly revamped has again been corroborated by a leading impartial authority. Kudos to you.

    My problem has been that you and others seem to see Marston Gibson as a messiah, riding in on his white horse, with a mandate to change the system and with all the necessary brain power, money and support from the Government to do the job.

    Besides the vaunted capabilities of Marston Gibson, what else is necessary to effect the desired changes? Doesn’t some strategic support from his colleagues in the judicial system come near the top of the list? The statement from the Bar association suggested that such support might be forthcoming but since then it appears that that support was somewhat contrived. Will that support eventually improve to be adequate for change given the way how current senior legal people are beneffitting from and using the current system?

    My other problem was how could we be so certain that Mr. Gibson, though eminently qualified for the job at the “brightest and best” level, was similarly qualified at the level of showing that he has the guts to take on and defeat the current legal establishment as well as to the “stick to it” level. How do we know that when serious problems occur, as they must if he truly tries to fulfill the mandate you have given him, that he will push and persist and try everything necessary to succeed and not run to New York or some other common law country as he appears to have done before?

    As I’ve said before, I wish him well. It appears that the legal system in Barbados needs nothing less.

  2. @checkit-out

    It is all about judgment by those doing the recruiting and leadership. It will be the remit of Gibson to lead. What should be obvious, and has been confirmed on both sides of the divide, Gibson is from outside the inner circle gives him the opportunity to deliver. From where BU sits he will have some influential players to provide support.

  3. First & Foremost our ‘constitution’ (HAS BEEN) compromised countless in the past, it is the ignorance and lack of knowledge of SOME bajans that has led to this. We do not cherish our history so we do not even know what our constitution consists of. Bajans died for the establishment of the constitution & Independence from colonial government. Both parties have done it to facilitate the financial stake holders and investors in their campaign, in many cases Building Permits, operating Licenses etc. It is the norm now but my view is that the law needed change for a while now however i did not expect the change would come in the form of Political Gifts to individuals who stand outside of the constitutional requirements for chief judge, mind you, clerical officers in the service who have acquired degrees and are held back by minor requirements. The constitution needed change but for the right reasons and not the interests of private & (Equal) pressures.

  4. “Bajans died for the establishment of the constitution & Independence from colonial government”.

    When did this war of independence occurred?

  5. maybe the politician is inferring that the riots of 1937 was for a constitution & independence instead of demands for social equality and labour reforms ?

  6. … or maybe to the 1651 invasion of Barbados by Ayscue resulting in fighting and dying.

    First to get hit was an Alleyne who supported the Parliamentary forces. I believe he held the rank of Colonel.

    The story goes he was coming ashore in a boat when he was shot by the Royalists.

    The Parliamentary forces won but weren’t strong enough to hold the island.

    So the two factions signed The Charter of Barbados at Oistins.

    This predated the American Declaration by over a century.

    In fact, you will find Bajans were involved in the drafting of the American Declaration, and of course George Washington spent time here.

    Both documents probably have their genesis in the Magna Carta.

    I was told that Erroll Barrow always said Barbados was independent since 1651 and the 1966 declaration was a mere formality.

    So yes, Bajan blood was shed to gain independence.

  7. This formed the Charter of Barbados. This charter gave Barbados the guarantee of new government with a governor, an elected assembly, and freedom from taxation without local consent.

    I don’t really thing that is independence. They UK still governed our defence and security. without those there is no independence.

  8. @checkit-out | March 18, 2011 at 8:45 AM | I am not for one moment suggesting that Marston Gibson will turn out to be the messiah of the Barbados justice system. We don’t know and only time will tell.

    What I AM saying is that he has the POTENTIAL to be the messiah of the justice system. I also happen to sincerely believe that he has the WILL to do the job.

    However, all I or anyone can do is to wait and hope and see. But that is true of anyone who may be appointed as chief justice. And do you seriously think that we will not all be watching him to make sure he does the job?

    What I am ALSO saying is that it is high time that those with narrow political agendas threw those agendas away and stood solidly behind Chief Justice Gibson to facilitate the changes that are urgently required – IN THE INTERESTS OF BARBADOS!!!!

    @ruth arnetta | March 18, 2011 at 5:41 AM | I am not sure on what basis we are blessed? with your legal opinion, but I, respectfully, disagree. The government has moved wisely and prudently to head off the meritless challenges and time-wasting challenges to the appointment of Chief Justice Gibson, as articulated by you. The government has decided to put the interests of the majority above the meritless political posturings of the minority.

    @islandgal246. Always a pleasure to read your submissions.

  9. anthony

    If you check you will find that the British Army was not Garrisoned here until 1780, 150 years after settlement, and only because the French were making a nuisance of themselves at the time.

    Until then defence was handled by the Barbados Militia which would have seen action for example when they drove off the Dutch admiral de Ruyter in 1655 from their fort where the Hilton Hotel now exists and again a century later in skirmishes with American privateers on the West coast.

    The expedition that captured Jamaica had a strong Bajan contingent and again more than a century later, Barbados contributed to the armed forces that took Guadeloupe in 1794.

    So make no mistake, Bajans shed their blood in the defence of their country. Most certainly, England assisted as well.

  10. Amused,

    I really hope for you sake and for Barbados’, Mr Gibson to quote you”What I AM saying is that he has the POTENTIAL to be the messiah of the justice system. I also happen to sincerely believe that he has the WILL to do the job.”

    He attended Foundation with my brother, a little ahead of me. I hope he does well. But I can tell you trying to be different in the public service is no mean task. I foolishly left the private sector at one time in my career and joined the public sector.

    Needless to say, I did not stay very long. I was told we have done things this way for ever. I tried to make suggestions on improving the ways things could be done more effectively and met bare roadblocks. I was then despised, talked about, they had problems with my clothes, the car I drove and they even came to see where I live.

    And so, I could only wish Mr Gibson luck in trying to change the status quo. As soon as he tries to make changes, the roadblocks will go up and they will tell him he just came and he aint from ’bout here. Believe it or not. The public sector is a strange place.

  11. @Chris. You are, of course, quite right. However, Prodigal Son is taking a realistic view and he is right too, in my humble opinion. I think,though, that the winds of change are blowing strongly at hurricane force and it must be clear that not only the public is fed up with the justice system, but a majority of the lawyers too. And if blood (metaphorical) has to flow, it will be that of the Registry and the Judiciary. I suspect that Sir Roy’s comments have started the blood-letting. Notice how there has not been a single word from the Spratt, whose initials I understand are DS? Game, set and match – and BU, not any other, broke this major story. Kudos to David!!!!

  12. @Amused

    I think we all hope whoever is appointed to the CJ position can clean up the judiciary. If he/she can is another matter entirely.


    Unless security as actually vest in barbados by legislature the point is mute if we police our selves or via foreign powers. They can be overruled at any time making us not independent.

  13. Someone needs to teach this government TACT sooner rather than later. And why is that Suckoo is being told by clerks in Parliament what the Opposition is going to do?

  14. Mr Gibson C J of Barbados
    Mr. Gibson CC of West Indies Cricket Team

    These Gibson face big tasks
    We need to pray for them

  15. @ david

    but isn’t the government rushing it so that he can be appointed before the acting cj appointment has to be extended again.

    • @anthony

      We know that they are but will adjourning the debate change the opposition argument? The BLP is on record as stating it is against the appointment.

    • @enuff

      The debate is to amend the Supreme of Judicature Act to change the word ‘commonwealth’ to ‘common law’. That is what is before the house. We all know what triggered it but the procedure which guides parliamentary debate precludes reference to Gibson and the appointment.

  16. actually that is incorrect david that added sub paragraphs for the common-law separate from the commonwealth sub paragraphs. They could have added commonwealth and/or common law jurisdiction and we could have done this last year.

    • @Amused

      Isn’t it incredibility hypocritical that the BLP members of parliament would speak to principle on the issue of appointing the CJ Gibson but would turn a blind eye to using the same yardstick when a politician was appointed to the position?

      They console themselves after the fact that Simmons did his job impartially and or he had retired from politics.

  17. Let’s hope this new ALMIGHTY C.J Gibson lives up to all you law adjusters expectations, now the pressure is on him to deliver. For government’s sake, the Barrack affair would go in favor of them, also too Clico will be given a lifeline and not only policyholders will suffer but all barbados because the government will bailout the company in order to protect certain persons who find themselves creatures of a shady person like Parris. I seriously hope that things improve in this country, because we might have thrown the last dice.

  18. Sounds good to me! Now how about some integrity legislation.being the next order of business . As Mia said the people must have confidence in government to avoid anarchy and controversy. Passing Integrity Legislation would do so at this time to restore the people confidence. A Few more hours burning of the midnight candle would be a good thing to restore such confidence.

  19. anthony | March 18, 2011 at 7:29 PM |

    Unless security as actually vest in barbados by legislature the point is mute if we police our selves or via foreign powers. They can be overruled at any time making us not independent.

    History speaks pretty loudly, in fact louder than words ….. nothing mute about it.

    • The BU household congratulates and welcomes Marston Gibson to the crucially important job of Chief Justice of Barbados. We have confidence that he has the goods to make a difference, even his detractors agree he is a good man.

      BU will continue to direct our voice on legal and other matters. No longer will CJ Gibson or others have to worry about the actions of some being done in the dark of the night protected by the fear of the fourth estate.

      To Dale Marshall who referred to the blogs, newspapers and talk shows having their say, as far as we are away only one* blog championed this matter.

      BU thanks all those who participated in this debate, your views were read by many with stakeholder interest.

  20. @ David
    What about the hypocrisy of the government to argue that they are changing the legislation so as to not deny a Barbadian from working in Barbados? The same government that had no problem unlawfully terminating the employment of many Barbadians since coming to office because they were not card carrying members. Repugnant!!

  21. One can only hope he does an outstanding job to show the legislation was amending for the right reasons. He has an uphill battle to contend with and we offering him all the support we can.

  22. @anthony, whether Gibson does a good job or not the only thing that really matters is the principle that NO BARBADIAN should be prevented from doing a job in Barbados but a Pakistani or Englishman would qualify.

    • Mia finally broke her silence last night on what she advised late PM Thompson when she was consulted on Marston Gibson’s appointment.

      She indicated she gave her concurrence but it was done on the ‘presumption of regularity’.


    “I don’t think I am the only person who can perform the duties as Chief Justice, I have some ideas about how to make a substantial difference in Barbados. I am not arrogant, but I am confident that I can make a difference and that’s why I remain committed to it.”

    One can only wish him luck and support for he will need it.

  24. @David. Hats off to Mia again. She has made sure that she remains loyal to her political party, while not expressing a legal opinion on Marston Gibson’s appointment or, indeed, committing herself in any way, except to say, conditionally, that she agreed. Masterful! If she keeps this up, she stands a very good chance of becoming PM one day.

  25. Mia is brilliant. PM Stuart Can learn alot from her. Her independence shines through out her speeches. Applause! . . I really admire her spunk and tenacity.If she continues on this road which she has masterfully paved out also one which by detrementand slight of hand by some of those indifferent BLP party members she would become a PM of Barbados. People are looking for a third party which she would not form as her allegiance to the BLP she is not going to severe. However truth be known her truthfulness would be her crowning glory and would win the hearts of many inboth parties. At this point she has nothing to lose

  26. Prodigal Son
    Mia has little chance of leading the DLP when Sinckler is pulling at the bit to lead the party as soon as later this year.

  27. to ac- your comments re the marston gibson debacle suggesta your are not quite familiar with the partisan political climate in barbados where supposedly intelligent persons allow their political affiliation to cloud their judgment and influrnce their opinions. do not allow yourself to be side tracked. the govt made a booboo with the connivance of an uninformed opposition to recommend mr gibson for a post contrary to the laws of barbados and rather than apologising and nominating someone else wants to compound the folly by changing the law to accomodate their error and trying to inveigle me into beleiving that theiy are doing it in my interest. i aint too bright but i aint that foolish either. it is instuctive to note that the law was tampered with by both regimes six times and no one touched the issue. i would have thought that mr gibson would have bowed out of such a volatile political situation to keep his integrity intact.

  28. to ac- mia is the most brilliant politician in barbados at the moment. all she has to do is wait. she is not the first or the last political aspirant to endure such a fate. that is the nature of politics. as mr sandiford said-‘ politics is no sunday school’. sk mr sandiford himself, mr mascoll, mr estwick, mr kellman, mr st john. it’s all about timing. today for you-tomorrow for me. there is no doubt that miss mottley’s turn will come when the gang of four with the possible exception of mr arthur lose their seats in the next election asnd she has the opportunity to lead the party free of barnacles.

  29. @ruth
    I amnot seeing it as a partisan issue , Be that as it may . It think the intent in the long run would out weighed the negativity.The problem you have brought to the forefornt is plausible. However with or without the appointment , the law is outdated and need to be change. The world wide web has made it easier for people to be in many places . I can assure many lawyers and professional have access to the Internet and can use it as seen fit in their professional lives .Not withstanding Mr. Gibson. meaning his job would not have been limited to any one place.For sure he must have used such technology to direct or op ion in other jurisdictions

  30. to ac- how long was it known that the law was outdated and needed to be changed? only because of the gaffe with mr gibson’s appointment. just can’t understand how a person with your seemingly analytical skills can allow yourself to be hoodwinked like are missing the point. yes, perhaps and note i sy perhaps the law might be in need of change but not under the influence of hindsight.

  31. There are NOT 800 medical doctors,not 800 dentists,not 800 (civil,electrical,mechanical,IT) engineers,not 800 architects,not 800 qualified “agriculturists”etc.etc.Can anyone explain why there are 800 lawyers and this number will increase by about 40 next month and again next year by about the same and on and on it goes. Isn’t it dangerous to have an excess of poor hungry starving lawyers in the society, each wanting to drive a BMW and to live in Millenium Heights? Who do you expect them to prey upon ? A starving dog will turn upon its master!Do you really think the new chief justice will make a difference if he holds to the view that there are only 7 or 8 incompetent and dishonest lawyers out of a total of 800 ?Do you really expect change ? Wake up !

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