A Critique Of Chief Justice Marston Gibson’s Delivery At UWI Cave Hill

Chief Justice Marston Gibson gave a most interesting delivery at the University of the West Indies (UWI) on October 26, 2011. We are indebted to the Bajan Reporter for this video of the interview.

Pressed by time Ian Bourne of Bajan Reporter was not able to pose the following question but it was emailed to CJ Gibson, who kindly distributed his email addresses to those in attendance.

“My Lord, we know that the delays in the judicial system are attributable to several different sources, most prominently the registry and the inexcusable delays in delivering judgements on the parts of the judges. Does Your Lordship believe that these excessive delays constitute gross judicial misconduct, given the excessive personal and financial hardship that these delays (some of several years duration) pose to litigants, amounting to what is a denial of justice; and if so, is Your Lordship prepared to move under the Constitution to have removed from office these delinquent judges?”

The CJ comes across as a very caring, bright and widely experienced Bajan. There is none of the grandeur that one has come to associate with persons in his position. He is also obviously very hands on. This is very encouraging.

However, BU has a few issues with some of what the CJ had to say:

Magistrates checking records of defendants before sentencing. But surely this is the job of the police or whoever is prosecuting. It is the job of the prosecutor to make the magistrate or judge aware of prior bad acts. But there should be an intranet (not Internet) in any case where these details are kept, accessible to certain parties through a password. The CJ may wish to consider the impact on human rights and rights to privacy should such information be available on the Internet to all and sundry. Suppose that person immigrated. Their records in Barbados would be available to any overseas employer and might adversely affect their employment possibilities etc.

Juror’s, court officials etc. using social networking to give information on cases. We were a little surprised by the CJ’s handling of this and his proposals to prevent it. As he made reference to the English Master of the Rolls, Lord Neuberger, we thought he might have known how the English Lord Chief Justice, Lord Igor Judge, dealt with a case of a juror indulging in just what our CJ has discussed. In England and Wales, they call it CONTEMPT OF COURT. Here is the BBC report:  . The juror concerned was jailed for 8 months:  That was THIS YEAR!

Having cell phones surrendered and receipts issued for same before entering court. In the theatre, they make an announcement asking everyone to turn off their cell phones. In cinemas, they put a notice on the screen asking the same. Would it not be better for the clerk of the court or judge/magistrate to ask everyone in the court to ensure that their cell phones are either switched off or switched to silent before commencing the proceedings? The cost of personnel to receive and issue receipts and then to collect up the receipts and hand back the phones would be avoided. So too would be the almost inevitable claim with a very expensive of cutting-edge phone, of it having been “lost”. It also has to be said that lawyers themselves might object to handing over their cell phones as they are likely using these to communicate with their offices, receive information on the case they are trying and, on occasion, give instructions to their offices to prepare for immediate emergency appeal as the result of a ruling given on any aspect of their cases by any single member of our questionable judiciary. So, Chief Justice, with respect, you may find it better and cheaper and far less hassle to copy the procedure and announcement of the Frank Collymore Hall.

Sentencing. The CJ is right on target, in our respectful view, on his observations of sentencing problems and crimes that involve persons who have psychiatric problems. In this day and age, the majority of the psychiatric problems we encounter in Barbados can be solved by medication and a little counselling. There are high instances of psychosis in Barbados that could be addressed by the increasingly sophisticated medication on the market – problem is that this would cost the taxpayers money. But we have to seriously question whether keeping someone on psychiatric medication for the rest of their lives, during which time they would hold down jobs and contribute as tax payers, might not be FAR more cost effective than the cost to the taxpayer of just a year in our new and very expensive state-of-the-art prison at Dodds, with the inevitable exposure to hardened and habitual criminals. The problem we face in this respect is the public perception of those who have mental health issues. Unfortunately, still too many people in Barbados continue to live in the dark ages where there was no effective medication and “Jenkins” was the only solution. We were amazed to see the UK’s statistics on people suffering from mental health issues. According to the UK statistics, one in every four persons in Britain is a sufferer. But their community mental health centres throughout the country help those people so that they live happy and productive lives.

We are encouraged by and supportive of the CJ’s position here and will encourage and assist him all we can to change the Bajan public’s perception of mental health issues.

Finally, His Lordship talked extensively about technology. However, he needs to consider that there are many people who would like to act on their own behalves (without lawyers) in court proceedings. BUT, the guidance that they need to effectively do this is not easily available online. It amazes us that even the court decisions in Barbados, which must be typed on a computer (and Windows 7 has the ability to immediately render these are PDFs) yet Supreme Court website, which is supposed to carry these decisions, is so woefully backward. Also, does it really take that much to scan to PDF all the decisions going back to Independence in 1966, so that there is a complete list of case law for Barbados for the general public?

As we have noted on another blog, while it is acceptable for Wikipedia not to know that Marston Gibson is now the Barbados Chief Justice, there is no excuse whatsoever for the Barbados Bar Association not having recorded this on its website.

0 thoughts on “A Critique Of Chief Justice Marston Gibson’s Delivery At UWI Cave Hill

  1. I got a traffic ticket last month and I went to pay it. I was going to write a check when I saw a BIG sign saying no cheques, I asked if I can pay by debit card and was told resounding NO! I was told that I must come back with cash. On the said traffic ticket it states that cheques, money orders are accepted forms of payment. I haven’t paid as yet since the traffic court office refuses to accept cheques. Shall I wait until I get summons to explain why the ticket hasn’t been paid?

  2. With every Tom, Dick and Harry owning a debit and credit card it is surprising our Courts do not recognize this as a method of payment. It would provide convenience for the customer and should improve back office efficiency.

  3. By no means am I trivializing the discussion already started – I will return when I have more time with a detailed comment about mental illnesses, the courts and the psychiatric hospital – but I could not help but notice that the Chief Justice is unstintingly and unabashedly Barbadian in speech not only nationality. Incredible! Barbadians can travel, live overseas for decades and still keep their accents. It is really possible! A Barbadian living in a foreign country for several decades has been able to retain his native accent! This is truly a miracle!

  4. @ David;
    “With every Tom, Dick and Harry owning a debit and credit card it is surprising our Courts do not recognize this as a method of payment”.
    This is entirely a management problem (including the AG). How can we have people in charge of public service organizations with this sort of mentality?
    This free education seems more to be curse than a blessing.
    God help us!

  5. @islandgirl. Buy a money order and take it to the traffic dept, circle the words ‘Money Order’ hand it off and walk out. be sure to have a copy of your MO. and record the number of the ticket.

  6. @ millertheanunnaki | October 29, 2011 at 6:59 PM
    …This free education seems more to be curse than a blessing.”

    Um aint got nutting 2 do wid free educashun, it is bare igrance. Rememba, educashun aint common sense.

  7. @ Guest:
    When you educate fools and pompous asses what do you get?
    Remember that “sh*te always tend to float to the top. That is, to the top of the bureaucratic ladder.

    • Slightly off topic but some relevance:

      Who or what gives David Simmons the authority to lecture Turks and Caicos Islanders about ethics and integrity?
      I love the people of Barbados, they are probably the most hospitable people in the entire Caribbean, after Turks and Caicos Islanders of course!!! The Island of Barbados is absolutely stunning and the food is among the best in the world. Those people could make a fruit punch, it the best I ever drank. I have been to Barbados more times than any other Caribbean country. I really do admire the people of Barbados. However the former Chief Justice of Barbados and now Chairman of the Turks and Caicos Integrity Commission is one bajan I do not have such admiration for.
      David Simmons was involved in politics in Barbados for about forty years, then Chief Justice of Barbardos for a number of years. He served as Attorney General and Deputy Prime Minister in the Administration of his allegedly corrupt friend former Prime Minister Owen Arthur. The people of Barbados have been calling for years for the implementation of integrity legislation to govern those in public life. Both political parties in Barbados have promised integrity legislation on the campaign trail but when they get into office they reneged on that promise.

  8. The Rt Hon Ronald “Demons” Jones is again trying to appeal to the simple by claiming that “evil is afoot” where people are opposed to the contingent that left for Australia ..

  9. @ David:
    “Why do we demonize our leaders? Are they not a reflection of our society?”
    Are we demonizing Minister Estwick?

    Are we demonizing the Principal of the C&P School and that of St. Leonard’s Secondary?
    Praise is given where praise is due. Respect is earned not demanded!

  10. I think that maybe Ronald Jones spent TOO MUCH of his youth in fundamentalist (Christian) churches.

    There is such a thing as too much fundamentalist (church).

  11. A point which we have not discussed is the CJ’s point that the Magistrates Courts have become so dilapidated to be able to house the digital equipment required to perform digital recordings to speed up case load. Surprisingly he also mentioned that in the new Supreme Court, readily finance bya BOLT arrangement, only two Courts, the Criminal Courts use digital recording. It can’t be said that the Judicial Centre can’t accommodate digital recording in all the Courts.

    While we were busy conferring knighthoods and clapping people on the back what a great job was being done, our police and justice departments have been allowed to decay over the years. When one thinks that the justice system is at the heart of maintaining a stable society which has translated in economic benefits for Barbados over the years, it begs the question: whither our priorities?

Leave a comment, join the discussion.