Rotarian Chief Justice! What Was He Thinking?

Caswell Franklyn, Head of Unity Workers Union

In 1998, a panel of Law Lords took the unprecedented decision to set aside a ruling of a differently constituted panel of judges of the House of Lords because of the appearance of bias, in an appeal brought by Senator Pinochet, former president of Chile.

The Government of Spain was seeking Pinochet’s extradition from the United Kingdom to face trial for acts that he was alleged to have committed when he was head of state of Chile. He pleaded that he had immunity from prosecution because of his status of head of state when the acts were alleged to have taken place, and that was upheld by the lower courts. To make a long story short, the lower courts’ decision was overturned paving the way for the continuation of extradition proceedings.

Subsequent to the first appeal it was discovered that the wife of one of the panel of Law Lords, Lord Hoffman, was employed by Amnesty International who sought and was granted permission to be an intervener in the Appeal. Lord Hoffman was not a member of Amnesty International, but he had raised funds to assist them to acquire a building.

The second panel accepted that there was a real danger or reasonable apprehension of suspicion that Lord Hoffmann might have been biased. There was no allegation of actual bias, but the panel ruled that the appearance of bias was enough to cause them to set aside the ruling in the first hearing before the Lords.

Just recently, in Trinidad, that country’s Chief Justice was embarrassed into returning the instrument constituting him a senior counsel, what we call queen’s  counsel in Barbados, because it was bestowed by the Government. It was submitted that such acceptance would conflict with the doctrine of the separation of powers, and also there would be some appearance of bias if the Chief Justice were to adjudicate a case involving the Government.

Based on the two examples that I cited above, imagine my surprise when the Chief Justice of Barbados could be seen on the front page of a newspaper receiving honorary membership of the Rotary Club. My head immediately started to work overtime: should I join Rotary in case I am ever at the receiving end of a law suit; or what would happen if I had to go up against one of his Rotarian brothers in court.

Ever so often, we hear unfounded allegations that some of our judicial officers being lodge members cited as the reason why certain cases are decided in a particular way. It does not matter how unfounded these claims happen to be: they would tend to reduce confidence that the populace should repose in the judiciary. I am not saying that the Chief Justice would be biased but I would sleep a whole lot better if he had declined the invitation.

I do not know if it only me clutching at straws or is it that the Chief Justice has exercised extremely poor judgement in accepting honorary membership of Rotary. In my opinion, he should be required to return one of his instruments of appointment: it should either be Rotary or Chief Justice, not both.

137 thoughts on “Rotarian Chief Justice! What Was He Thinking?

  1. Imagine if Barbados executed the law on the basis of the crime committed and not who committed the crime. Imagine if Barbados did not have crooked lawyers who get slap on the wrist penalties for stealing clients money. Imagine if Barbados law system was not divided into two parts: One part Elitist protected the other part peasants punished. Imagine if the former Chief Justice was not a former BLP minister and not tied up in allege corruptive activity that sullied his CJ position and that of his beloved Barbados Labour Party. Imagine if the BLP and DLP kept their promises and executed management of the countries resources with integrity, transparency and accountability and the enactment of legislation. Imagine if the truth behind taking draw-backs and changing laws to accomodate probable infelictious activity were not true.


    • I have seen and heard many allegations about lodges, and even in today’s Nation one of those lodges is on the defencive pointing out that they are not evil. I do not know about that: what I can tell you is that these lodges are responsible for putting a lot of evil persons in positions where they become influential. I know of a case at a government department where a worker viciously attacked a colleague without provocation. The doctors claim that with a little more force the victim’s neck would have broken.

      The police were called and the attacker declared in a loud voice in the presence of a number of witnesses that his lodge would protect him. It apparently did. Despite the number of witnesses who were prepared to testify against the lodge man, the police were not allowed to pursue the matter. No charges were ever filed. But you know what is interesting, the attacker got promoted even though the matter of the attack was referred to the Chief Personnel Officer. In essence, the lodge was able to protect its member from criminal prosecution and also ensure that a thug was promoted to a senior post in the Public Service.

      I did not call any names because I represented the victim in an attempt to remove him from the service because of this incident: I have not sought his permission to use his name on this blog, but I can assure you that what I have written is absolutely true.

  2. Bush Tea | January 22, 2012 at 11:16 AM |
    It is also a clique, where friends and associates routinely exchange favours, influence and information.


    Poliical parties and Lodges can also be described like this!!

  3. … In fact Bush Tea, on sober reflection on the sordid goings on at Alexandra which clearly have the stamp of political and Lodge connections, I would say that I, like you, support Caswell’s thesis.

    Clubs in Barbados can cause harm to our country inspite of any good they do.

    So perhaps it is not good to see the CJ becoming a member of one.

    Then again on, and the other hand, maybe it is good that it is in the open and maybe his transparent example will be followed by all club members in Barbados, be they political, Lodge or Rotary and they will declare their membership.

  4. I will start the ball rolling and follow the CJ’s transparent example.

    I declare that I am not a member of any Political Party, Lodge or Rotary.

    I have in the past been a member of The Lions Club but personal and business commitments forced me to resign many moons ago.

  5. A lot of interesting posts here. However all of you guys who talked about Freemasonry should read a book called “The Hiram Key” by Christopher Knight & Robert Lom’as.
    A very enlightening expose on Freemasonry. You will be supprised at what it’s NOT.

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