Guilty of the Offence of Writing

On 18 January 2022, I attended the Supreme Court to support those in COVID-19 isolation having the right to vote. I was directed to sit in the Gallery – which I did.

This was evidently an important case. There were ten senior lawyers, including the Attorney General himself, representing the Government and the President, against our lone lawyer.


I sat down in the Gallery and began to write – every word, every argument, every objection, and the judge’s ruling on each objection. Soon, my writing became automatic as I began to analyse the arguments in real time. I smiled as the familiar Dopamine hormone flowed – I was in the zone.

After writing eight pages, I was interrupted by a Court Marshall. I tried to remain in the zone while giving him some attention. “You can’t write”, he said, as I started the ninth page. The judge was ruling on an objection raised by the other side, and I did not want to miss it. I assumed he was commenting on my handwriting, so I simply shook my head in disagreement and continued.


“You can’t write in here.” He insisted. The judge had sustained the objection, and our lawyer commenced speaking. I quickly held up the page to show him that I could, in fact, write “in here”. I was still in the zone, and hoped that my evidence of writing would cause him to leave me alone. Any hope of that ended when he finally gave a clear instruction. “You are not allowed to write in here.”

Life a speeding train hitting an unmoveable object, I tumbled out of the zone. I was upset. I was learning so much from these legal practitioners. He was insisting that I stop writing immediately. I complied. I also asked him to accompany me outside of the room to where we could discuss this matter.


“Why am I not allowed to take notes?” I asked. “Are you a lawyer?” He countered. I explained that I was not, but that I had represented myself in two cases in the High Court, and was representing myself in two cases before the Court of Appeal. “Are you a lawyer?” He asked again. “No, I am not a lawyer, but I am here to learn from lawyers” I explained as I showed him my notes,

“If you are not a lawyer, then you are not allowed to write in here.” He stated. “Why not?” I asked. “Because that is the rule, and if the judge looked up here and saw you writing, you would get in trouble.” He said. What could judges find so objectionable about someone taking notes, I thought. However, I had no intention of offending the judge, so, I agreed to return to my seat and write no more.


Upon re-entering, I noticed that there were three people seated. The person nearest to the door where the Court Marshall was stationed, was a lady – and she was writing. I asked the Court Marshall if there were exceptions to this rule. “She is a reporter”, he said. “And I am an Engineer”, I responded. “Only reporters and lawyers are allowed to write notes in here.” He declared.

“I would like to appeal this rule.” I said. “You can’t.” He responded. “Why not?” I asked. “Because I checked with my superiors before telling you to stop writing.” He answered. “Who are these superiors.” I asked. He gave me the name of his superior.


I decided to return to my seat and try to get back in the zone. It was useless. I am a read and write type of learner – I need to write, and then read what I have written, to facilitate my learning. When I am in the zone, I just have to write. I now had to try to remember what I was hearing, while trying to analyse that information. That is easier for auditory-dominant learners – but I am not an auditory-dominant learner.

Sitting there, I soon realised that I was wasting my time – and it was frustrating, because I wanted to stay, but I was not learning anything. So I left the room in search of this fellow to whom I could appeal this rule. I was told that he was in the basement of another building, and there was no contact number for this mysterious basement-dweller. So, I left the Supreme Court and returned to my office.


Why is writing notes in court such a major offence, that it must be actively stamped out by our Court Marshalls? What is the harm or inefficiency that this rule is intended to limit? I thought of O’Brien’s advice to Winston, in George Orwell’s book, 1984. “You must try harder. It is not easy to become sane.”

It seems that our judges have only given permission for lawyers and reporters to take notes in Court. If others want to take notes, they must request the Court Marshall, to request the Judge’s legal assistant, to request permission from the judge to be heard. If permission to be heard is granted, then they may then ask the judge for permission to take notes, and why they want to take notes. If the reason is not sufficiently persuasive, permission may be denied.

Grenville Phillips II is a Chartered Structural Engineer. He can be reached at

22 thoughts on “Guilty of the Offence of Writing

  1. Barbados Underground is wack with misunderstandings all over

    Legal teams and Courts have note takers, but others are not allowed to write or record as private information, evidence etc can be leaked to public. Reporters can write and report as per legal guidance on individual cases.

    Exemptions are national security, personal privacy issues, children in family matters, victim rights, witness protection etc

  2. Grenville

    I have books of notes I have taken.

    In 1998, Greenidge stopped my sister and I taking notes but since then I have plenty plenty notes, maybe more than 1000 pages!!

    Pretty sure when it was last objected to before Peter Williams in the Court of appeal he himself cited a precedent which permitted the taking of notes by a lay person.

    Peter Williams has retired long ago.

    I’ve also done it also in Chambers matters in the High court.

    It is surprising to hear of your experience.

    Your lawyer should have raised hell.

  3. I suspect you might be able even to get permission to tape record proceedings but I would not try it without getting permission.

    One time an opposing lawyer, a real dinosaur, saw me with my computer before the CCJ in 2012/3 and objected as he thought I was recording the proceedings.

    The President of the Court had to explain to him it was being broad cast worldwide.

    There should really be a transcript produced like in the Court of Appeal which is available for purchase.

    That was part of the improvements in the Administration of Justice that was supposed to have happened.

    If the need arises to appeal, the Judge has to produce his notes for the record of appeal. Rather than waste his time taking notes it far more sensible for the court recorder to produce a transcript.

    If the appeal is claiming the Judge erred on a point of law those notes better be part of the record of appeal.

    You should be able to write and get them.

    Back in 2010 we had to file a Constitutional Motion to get those notes.

    The Constitution assures citizens of a fair and speedy trial.

    If not, entitlement to damages accrues to the citizen.

    We have another Constitution Motion last heard in 2013 … so much for a fair and speedy trial!!

    But the paper trail is there!!

  4. Grenville Phillips II pen could have been a laser guide weapon containing explosives.

    Ever watches a James Bond movie ?

  5. “The court has inherent jurisdiction to stay an action which must fail; as, for instance an action brought in respect of an act of State”

    “It is surprising to hear of your experience.
    Your lawyer should have raised hell.”

    he was an observer in the public gallery not a plaintiff or defendant in the case
    his lawyer was accruing costs for legal advice in his different separate and specific cases that were thrown out where he represented himself
    he is a bit of a general busy body in things that are not his business

    Private information in an open court”

    some statements and details pertinent to cases are not for publication such as personal details

  6. I had my run in with a Court Marshall as well. Apparently, one must sit as though one is in a straight jacket, one cannot rest one’s shades upon one’s head and one cannot softly chuckle when the lawyers and the lawyers crack jokes and cuffaw.

    Well, I complied with the first two even though the lawyers were sitting as they pleased but on the soft chuckle I told him where to get off.

    Laughing is not something that is optionable when lawyers and judges crack very funny jokes and laugh heartily at their wit.

    But being in court does programme one’s brain to temper the length and the volume of the chuckle. My chuckle was soft, short and sweet.

    He backed down and left me alone.

    The courts have all sorts of rules than can sometimes go overboard.

    If the court is open and reporters are allowed to report out, unless it is names of minors which reporters are well aware that they cannot publish, I really wonder what was the problem with GP2 writing in this particular case.

    GP2 should inquire into this. I think he is doing a good job in challenging systems.

    P.S. I comforted myself by thinking that the marshall himself could not laugh because he en had one damn teet’ in he mout’. That brought a stifled giggle because I did not have the excuse of the judge’s joke.

    Garvey Husbands had a dry wit.

  7. Orders of the bailiffs are absolute and always binding. Anyone who defies an order is acting against the Leader’s will, as our Leader is the Supreme Ruler of the land and thus of all courts.

    The people handed over their rights in trust to our Supreme Leader on 19 January. There they rest until the next election day in the distant future.

  8. It seems that our judges have only given permission for lawyers and reporters to take notes in Court.


    … but Grenville

    You have a column on BU regularly.

    You could have told the Marshall you are a reporter as well with a published column on a blog that has been existence almost 20 years.

  9. “I’ve also done it also in Chambers matters in the High court.

    It is surprising to hear of your experience.

    Your lawyer should have raised hell”

    that’s weird, i took notes in my case, you are supposed to take notes.

    they are joke worthy, your neck is showing, your shoulders and arms are showing and that is sacrilege to these pretenders….but when they VIOLATE claimant’s and other human and civil rights, no one raises and eyebrow….hypocrites…

  10. @GP “there was no contact number for this mysterious basement-dweller.”

    I strongly suspect that this basement dweller is the Devil himself. Probably no cell phones down there.

  11. The marshall was very likely the twin brother of the big guts/morbidly obese one who told me I could not enter the court because I was wearing “arm holes”

    The same “arm holes” I regularly wear to church and which have never provoked the priest nor member of the congregation to sin.

    I had no idea that my then 60 year old arms had the capacity to provoke lust and un-reason in men [and maybe women] half my age.

    Are these the same marshalls who cannot find delinquent child fathers who have disobeyed orders from the court that they support their babies, toddlers, children and teens?


  12. It seems that this rule can be addressed as perhaps it was intended (for specific sensitive cases), by having the Chief Justice issue a Practice Direction, that the audience can take notes unless the judge specifically forbids it. I will try to contact the Chief Justice about this matter tomorrow.

  13. Ask the CJ about transcripts in the High Court.

    They seem to be mandatory in the Court of Appeal.

    If the decision is being appealed the Record of Appeal will require the Judge’s notes.

  14. Cuhdear BajanFebruary 3, 2022 10:46 PM

    The same “arm holes” I regularly wear to church and which have never provoked the priest nor member of the congregation to sin.

    I had no idea that my then 60 year old arms had the capacity to provoke lust and un-reason in men [and maybe women] half my age.


    Maybe it was the musculature from Ground Keeping and fear of being physically attacked.

    Many men these days are very weakly.

  15. Cuhdear Bajan,

    Oh, they find who they want to find. They do not find those who are friends or, I suspect, prefer to pay $100 rather than $200. This is only a suspicion but there is a lot of money passed everywhere else so the suspicion is warranted.

    Money does not make only the mare fly.

  16. Typically I don’t see eye to eye with Grenville, but it is nice to see that he has a great sense of humor. I really enjoyed his treatise on bureaucratic nonsense.

    Keep up the good work Grenville.

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