The blogmaster takes a note that Sir Richard Cheltenham continues to perform in the role of Chairman of the Parliamentary Reform Commission (PRC). The blogmaster has no issue with the quote attributed to him in yesterday’s media – “We have inherited a bicameral system; a House of Assembly and the Senate, but now we have to ask ourselves whether we should continue that system or whether we should have one chamber; a unicameral [system]…We’ve always used the first-past-the-post system that gets most votes at the polls to determine membership but there are questions about whether a mixture of first past the post and proportional representation. . . all of those questions will be on the agenda and have to be carefully considered”. It is important work and hopefully the PRC will deliver on its mandate.
What the blogmaster has a problem with is the fact Sir Richard Cheltemham has a matter pending with the Disciplinary Committee of the BAR association. Several blogs have been published on Barbados Underground (BU) through the years directing the public to matters requiring answers from Cheltemham and local authorities without success. BU also questions those who agree to sit on a committee with Cheltenham with serious accusations outstanding waiting to be ruled on by the Disciplinary Committee of the BAR. Further, BU questions why a Mottley government advocating a political agenda of good governance and integrity continue to appoint persons who are being investigated for possible wrongdoings.#peterodle
An interesting news item this week centred around Prime Minister Mia Mottley who continues to loom large on the local, regional and dare twe suggest the international stage? Mottley has attracted the ire of some in the legal community for suggestions made at the recent Regional Symposium: Violence As a Public Health Issue organized by CARICOM.
We need to start rotating judges and magistrates in the region to ensure that there is not the familiarity with counsel and other circumstances and things that people take for granted.
Who better than Mottley to understand some of the challenges our legal system continues to pose. She has been immersed in the moribund system for all of her life and if caught in an informal conversation after a stiff drink and a ‘smoke’ may admit she has been a contributor to the flawed system over the years.
For some time I have been hearing a person on social media proclaiming that Barbados does not have a constitution. Normally, I would listen in amusement and take it for the comic relief that it provided but now it is no longer funny. It has potential to become dangerous and reckless as I am now hearing others expressing disrespect for the court system because they are also parroting the nonsense about this country not having a constitution. I am concerned that Government has not attempted to clarify the situation and has allowed this dangerous nonsense to take root.
In September 2021, Government brought a bill to Parliament entitled:
An Act to alter the Constitution in order
(a) to provide for Barbados to become a republic with a President who shall be Head of State of Barbados; and
(b) to provide for related matters.
It might have slipped pass many but one of the related matters was legislating, for the first in the Barbados Parliament, a constitution for this country. The original independence constitution of Barbados was never passed in our parliament, it was merely a schedule to an order in council, the Barbados Independence Order, made by Queen Elizabeth II.
In recent days Attorney General Dale Marshall has been in the news relating to several matters. Two items piqued the blogmaster’s interest.
In summary he said he had been following the issue concerning the wall at Joe’s River in St. Joseph, the constituency he represents. And that he was forced to decline public comment on the matter because future developments may involve aspects of his ministry.
See relevant extract of Attorney General Marshall commenting on the issue.
The other issue was Marshall commenting on the lack of complaints raised by the Barbados Bar Association against judges who have been persistently late handing down written decisions.
In yesterday’s press there was a reminder of Richard ‘Johnny’ Cheltenham’s appointment as Chairman of the Parliamentary Reform Commission (PRC). The mandate of the PRC according to Attorney General Dale Marshall at a recent press conference is to review the structure and function of parliament.
The other news of interest was the Barbados Bar Association (BBA) calling for action from government to address “issues affecting the rights of persons in police custody…protocols governing the conduct of attorney’s confidential communication with accused persons’ (Nation newspaper 13/02/2023). The BBA was reacting to the discovery of a cellphone in recording mode found in the interview room where attorneys at law interview clients.
The Barbados Labour Party (BLP) in its 2018 Covenant of Hope states at item number 3, ‘The Barbados Labour Party stands for good and transparent governance’. Similarly under Aims and Objects item (g) of the Guidelines of the Barbados Bar Association (Chapter 363) it states- ‘To settle questions of professional conduct, discipline and etiquette’.
Last week the government promised to make another attempt to enact The Integrity in Public Life Bill. Our honorable members of parliament from the two main political parties have been promising Barbadians integrity legislation since the mid 70s. And they say a promise is comfort for fools.
How can a former minister of government and former Queens Counsel now Kings Counsel (Senior Counsel) ignore a summons from the entity responsible under the law for hearing disciplinary complaints? Who Johnny Cheltenham think he is? For the record, Richard ‘Johnny’ Cheltenham is the brother of Patterson Cheltenham, CHIEF JUSTICE OF BARBADOS.
SIR Richard Cheltenham would have received a summons mirroring the document below.
Has Sir Richard Lionel Cheltenham KA., KC, Ph.D been called by the Disciplinary Committee of the Barbados Bar Association for grave professional misconduct and is in breach of 22 of the clauses of the Legal Profession Act?
The Barbados legal eagle was ordered by the disciplinary Committee to submit a sworn affidavit to the complaint #31 0f 2020 and appear for the hearing of the complaint. How could such a case escape the media when other attorneys in breach with the same professional misconduct are being prosecuted and imprisoned?
Scott informed the committee that the Sir Richard, summoned called by this court, with status and authority of the High Court, will not be attending the second hearing in March.
A story carried in the Nation newspaper with the headline NHC Evicts Tenant on the 29 September 2022 caught the eye. The tenant was evicted after falling $100,000 in arrears. It became a court matter in 2014 and a court order was issued by the Barbados Court of Appeal to evict handed down in April 2022 according to the report. The report suggested the tenant felt comfortable racking up the rent because she was a close friend of a politician affiliated with the government of the day. for sure other reasons are at play.
There are several issues inquiring minds should want to unpack arising from the report.
We understand a culture of nepotism operating in Barbados is entrenched to the point it is defended as a right of practice. That a tenant would feel emboldened to occupy a taxpayer subsidised housing unit since 2011 and refuse to pay a single cent in rent is probably the tip of the iceberg. Let us not forget the decision government took regarding squatters at Rock Hall in order to be politically expedient.
Why did the case take 12 years to reach a point an eviction order was finally issued by the Court of Appeal in April?
What does it say about inefficient processes required to seek justice?
What does it say about how the NHC as agent for government prosecuted the matter?
Who dropped the ball in this matter to the point taxpayers are left holding the bag to the tune of $100,000 plus legal and other cost incurred with the case?
Stories are heard daily about the grief landlords have to endure with uncooperative tenants. If the government had to initiate a 12 year process and tens of thousands dollars to evict a single tenant, what hope is there the process will be less accommodating for John Citizen?
One suspects there is more to the matter detailed in the Nation newspaper – isn’t there enough historical information to support we have a problem?
A problem that can be defined by the sloth of government bureaucracy, a moribund justice system AND a citizenry unwilling to actively exercise its civic duty.
See Nation article.
NHC evicts tenant
Almost $100 000 in arrears, says state-owned entity
A WOMAN WHO OWES the National Housing Corporation (NHC) close to $100 000 in rental arrears accumulated over a 12-year period, was finally evicted yesterday from the unit she was occupying at Country Park Towers, Country Road, St Michael.
Court marshals swooped down on the third storey unit early yesterday morning and began moving out furniture and other household effects in the presence of the woman and her daughter.
The rental arrears is said to be the most owed by a tenant in recent times.
Last April this newspaper reported that the NHC had won a judgement in the Court of Appeal for $86 000 against the delinquent tenant for the outstanding arrears while the court had also granted the state owned entity permission to take possession of the unit. Since then the arrears had continued to increase and was said to now be at $94 000.
When contacted about this matter, the NHC issued a statement through its public relations department indicating that the action, though unfortunate, was unavoidable.
“The eviction process this morning was carried out by court marshals in accordance with a court order issued. This has been an ongoing legal matter dating as far back as 2014, when the court originally granted an order for eviction as a result of outstanding arrears. At that time, the tenant was granted leave to appeal the order. However, she took no further action and the court reinstated the order last year. This process was completed today,” the statement read.
It added: “This is an unfortunate situation, one which we at the NHC worked hard to avoid, as we normally do in these circumstances. Long before this became a court matter in 2014 our finance department sent numerous statements advising of the outstanding arrears. Several letters were also sent and many calls were made to the tenant in an attempt to come to a suitable arrangement to settle. These are steps the NHC ordinarily take when clients are in arrears. However, during this time the tenant made no attempt to cooperate with us either by making payments towards the arrears or rent. Evictions are not taken lightly by the NHC, especially in these times. This is definitely not the route we wish to take. We tried everything in our power to come to a mutual agreement to avoid what eventually unfolded today.”
Reports indicate that the woman moved into the high rise unit in 2011 shortly after it was built but never paid a cent of the $207 weekly in rent even though she was gainfully employed.
Sources revealed that when summoned to a meeting at the NHC, the woman had indicated that she was “a very close friend” of a politician from a previous administration and was recommended by that person to occupy the unit.
A source said following last year’s court order the NHC served notice on the woman to vacate the premises but she did not move out, which forced them to go to the chief marshal for possession.
The source further revealed that the woman’s possessions which were taken away by two trucks yesterday, would be marked and placed in storage and she would be given an opportunity to collect them.
Speaking on this matter back in 2020, George Edghill, deputy chairman of the NHC board, had pointed out that when the new board was appointed in June 2018, the tenant was already in arrears of over $55 000. He said the board had at that time instructed the legal department to
take all appropriate legal action to repossess the unit.
Yesterday an NHC official reiterated that while the NHC always worked with tenants who were going through financial hardship, it would not tolerate tenants who were employed but refused to pay rent.
During the court proceedings the NHC was represented by attorneys Roy Alleyne and Nicole Gibson while Kings Counsel Michael Lashley appeared amicus curiae for the tenant after her attorney Denis Headley asked the court for leave to withdraw.
There is a strident debate being waged by a group of citizens led by Tricia Watson to have the Electric Light and Power (Amendment) Bill 2022 withdrawn by the government of Barbados. At the root of the challenge is the surreptitious approach government through uncouth Minister Kerri Symmonds to introduce a Bill to evade early public scrutiny AND the lack of a robust documented procedure for making the application process to generate electricity transparent.
We have finally reached a point in Barbados where the liberalisation of the electricity supply affords the opportunity for government to ensure ordinary Barbadians are well positioned to be enfranchised by the limitless financial potential of an emerging sector. The eminently qualified Tricia Watson (and company) has been dogged in critiquing the Bill which to their credit forced the original draft to be amended to current text.
The blogmaster is not qualified to enter the weeds of the debate BUT knows a thing or two about the urgent need for improved governance and the need to create opportunities to distribute wealth on an island where a few control a disproportionate amount of the economic pie. As long as humankind exist there will be demand for electricity. It is important non traditional players are given a fair chance to secure an equitable stake in a sector about to boom
In 2022 we should not be having this type of conversation as it relates to empowering non traditional owners of capital. Here is another one of those opportunities where a majority passive citizenry can constructively engage by entering the debate posting to Barbados Parliament website, calling the talk shows, sending articles to traditional and social media, bombarding everywhere Kerri Symmonds has a social media presence to name a few.
You are encouraged to follow Tricia Watson’s Facebook account for informed updates.
The death of the Lovell family formerly of Breezy Hill, St. Philip continues to be a talking point. The event as reported is unusual for Barbados not accustomed to a family that included young children perishing in questionable circumstances. The blogmaster will resist speculating about how the event occurred.
However, it is interesting to note one of the deceased persons was lawyer Allison Alexander-Lovell who was sanctioned by the Disciplinary Committee for withholding $160,000 of client’s monies in 2016. It is reported she was due to reappear in Court this week on the matter.
The blogmaster as a human being joins the majority of Barbadians who are sorry the Lovell family met untimely deaths. However, it has not gone unnoticed the ire many Barbadians have taken the opportunity to direct at lawyers. For many years lawyers have been known to sit on clients funds and important legal documents for unreasonably lengthy periods; sometimes for always without fear of being sanctioned by the Barbados Bar Association and Disciplinary Committee.
The fact that successive governments have been composed of members of the legal profession has stoked public cynicism that this is a profession that is about preserving the establishment and the way it does business at any cost. The blogmaster has cited too many examples since its inception in 2006. One of the more blatant examples is a sitting Speaker of the House Michael Carrington who had to be ordered by the high court to surrender monies to a septuagenarian former client without having to step down from serving as Speaker of the House of Assembly AND with the blessing of then prime minister Freundel Stuart. You cannot make this stuff up.
Members of the legal profession in Barbados should be aware of what is referred to as the ‘tipping point’ – ‘defined as the point at which a series of small changes or incidents become significant enough to cause a larger, more important change’. Let it not be stated this blogmaster is stoking ‘insurrection’ against the legal fraternity, the blogmaster has friends and family who are members. Notwithstanding the affinity, rising anti-lawyer sentiment in the country is real and will not take many more changes to set the cat amongst the pigeons.
We are living in harsh economic times, citizens will not continue to be docile while access to money and property are withheld from them by greedy, corrupt lawyers. The time has long past for the Barbados Bar Association and Disciplinary Committee to switch from PR mode to one of policing its members in the interest of the public it serves. There is also a role for government as policy maker to protect the public it swore to serve.
The arrest of former premier of BVI Andrew Fahie in the USA last week on a narcotics charge has caused regional tongues to wag for several reasons. It is disappointing to have to witness an elected officials betray the public trust expected of them. It is more disturbing when the arrested person is Black (note Fahie is currently on bail in the USA awaiting his day in court. A reminder a man is innocent until declared guilty).
It boggles the mind tinpot politicians to satisfy one of the seven deadly sins never learn, in this case still having the courage to cross US borders. In the famous words of Carlos Suarez – you do the crime you do the time.
Fahie’s arrest and possible incarceration serves as a reminder to Barbadians what happened to former minister Donville Inniss currently serving a 24 month sentence in the USA for money laundering. Another public servant based on the court hearing who betrayed a public he swore to serve. Some will debate this matter within the boundary of the law to suggest Inniss was ‘unfaired’ by the ‘system’, however, there is a strong ethical case still for him to answer to answer.
The most intriguing observation about regional politicians landing in hot soup is the patience of USA authorities to wait for the ‘fly’ to fly into the spider’s web. Is this a case of USA authorities lacking confidence in extradition treaties with regional countries? The case of former FIFA Vice President Jack Warner comes to mind, he has been fighting an extradition request from the USA since 2015. Alex Tasker has been fighting an extradition request from the US also since 2021 in connection with the ICBL/Donville Inniss matter.
The recent case of a St. Vincent court rejecting a request from the US government to extradite Kern Z Mayers to answer charges dating to 2006 makes for interesting reading. Has the time come for CARICOM to take a regional approach to extradition requests? Our friend Caleb Pilgrim is asking.
A court in St Vincent and the Grenadines has refused an application by the United States to extradite a Vincentian man, who is said to be among the most wanted in Pennsylvania.
“The court has considered carefully the arguments and submissions, examined all affidavits and other evidence, case law, statutory guidelines, and the court finds that given all the circumstances it would be unjust to return him,” said Chief Magistrate Rechanne Browne in a recent ruling.
The authorities in the United States wanted Kingstown to send Kern Z Mayers back to Pennsylvania to answer charges in relation to a January 4, 2006 incident in that state.
“Law enforcement attempted to initiate a traffic stop on a vehicle driven by Kern Mayers. In an attempt to flee from the police, Kern Mayers struck several vehicles and injured police officers. After a vehicle and foot pursuit, Kern Mayers was captured. Mayers was released from the Luzerne County Correctional Facility and then failed to attend his scheduled court hearing on January 25, 2006,” the website Pennsylvania Crime Stoppers said of the allegation against Mayers.
While in St Vincent, the police in Kingstown arrested Mayers at a business place in the city on December 10, 2020, a few years after he returned to St. Vincent and the Grenadines..
Lawyers Joseph Delves and Grant Connell represented him in the extradition hearing.
Connell also testified on Mayers’ behalf during the proceedings in which Rose-Ann Richardson appeared for the Crown.
In her ruling, the chief magistrate noted that the Crown had submitted that Mayers is a fugitive and should be returned to the United States to answer to the charges.
However, Delves submitted that not all the offences are relevant and that the Crown had not shown that the extradition is permitted under the Fugitive Offenders Act.
The chief magistrate pointed out that Mayers was arrested on the basis of being wanted in Pennsylvania, as he had not appeared at court on January 25, 2006 for the preliminary enquiry.
She noted that evidence was presented viva voce or orally, by affidavit and documentary evidence.
Browne further pointed out that the Fugitive Offenders Act and the extradition treaty between St Vincent and the Grenadines and the United States govern extradition between both countries.
The United States charged Mayers with two counts with each charge comprising several charges, including alleged possession of two grams of cocaine and injuries to a police officer.
Only some offences extraditable
The court held that some of the counts were extraditable while others were not.
The chief magistrate noted that the law says a person shall not be returned if: the court of committal is satisfied by reason of the trivial nature of the case; the accusation against the fugitive, having not been made in good faith; the passage of time since the committal of the offence; any sufficient cause as it would, having regard to all circumstances be unjust or oppressive or too severe a punishment to return the fugitive.
The Crown argued that the issue of statute of limitation did not apply as Mayers absconded and had no reasonably ascertainable place of abode or work within the Commonwealth.
It was further contended that the offences were committed on January 4, 2006, and he was immediately arrested and charged and soon thereafter failed to show up on January 25, 2006, for the hearing.
Despite the fact that five-year and two-year statutes of limitation exist, the limit is not applicable as the respondent absconded, the Crown further argued.
However, Mayers’ lawyers contended that the passage of time was critical and having regard to all circumstances, it would be unjust, oppressive and too severe a punishment to send him back to face trial in the United States.
They argued that the offences were allegedly committed in January 2006 and the extradition proceedings commenced in 2021.
The lawyers told the court that 15 years is an inordinately long period and the prosecution of the offences should have commenced in 2011 and not in 2017.
They said there was no evidence that Mayers was not continuously in the Commonwealth between 2006 and 2011.
They also contended that an address of New York was given in 2017.
The court also noted that all charges were dated 2017, adding that even though the affidavit by James McMonagle Jr, the assistant district attorney for Pennsylvania, said that the complaints were destroyed in 2015, “What is the nexus between these matters before the court?”
US authorities said that the indictments were accidentally destroyed while documents were being purged.
And while they said that the court keeps copies of the original documents those exhibited in the extradition proceeding were documents filed in 2017, even as Mayers was indicted in 2006.
Mayers’ lawyers argued that the document that should be exhibited are those from 2006 and, therefore, the matter was really brought against Mayers in 2017 — way past the statute of limitation.
They pointed out that the US government did not explain why it took so long and raised issues.
The lawyers also argued that Mayers would not receive a fair trial in the United States.
SCOTUS has the votes to overturn Roe vs Wade. Former President Donald Trump appointed 3 conservative justices to the Supreme Court of the United States which has given the SCOTUS a conservative leaning for the many years to come. Another example how political maneuverings affect the delivery of justice by the highest court in the USA (not uncommon to the USA). A leak of a draft opinion suggests SCOTUS will reverse Roe vs Wade, one of the biggest wedge issues ‘bubbling’ in the US public space; the right of a woman to have an abortion which the Roe vs Wade decision has protected for 50 years after SCOTUS issued a 7 to 2 decision in favour of Norma McCorvey 1973.
It started in 2018 after the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) handed the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) and the third parties an unprecedented 30 to zero drubbing in the general election. Many still believe a constitutional crisis was averted when Bishop Joe Atherley crossed the floor and a Leader of the Opposition (LoO) was recognized to ensure the business of parliament as outlined in the Constitution was carried out.
Who would have thunk it?
Prime Minister Mottley called a snap general election 18 months early and repeated a 30 to love win on 19 January 2022. On this occasion, no sitting MP seems willing to follow in the Bishop’s footsteps. The President of the Republic is unwilling to exercise discretion to appoint 2 Opposition Senators. Prime Minister Mottley in her infinite wisdom magnanimously has started the process to amend the Barbados Constitution to allow for the appointment of the 2 Opposition Senators from the losing political party that garnered the most votes. If that party refuses the opportunity to appoint slides to the next losing party.
Here we are!
The news former Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite filed a motion with the Court to rule on the legitimacy of the Senate should not surprise political pundits if one listened to the position of interim President of the DLP Steve Blackett. With the amendment to the Constitution proceeding in the parliament the DLP would eventually be forced into position of accepting the offer to appoint 2 Opposition Senators which would contradict the publicly stated position of the DLP represented by interim President Steve Blackett.
A couple interesting sidebar observations. The former AG Brathwaite is being represented by attorneys-at-law Garth Patterson and Michelle Russell. Last week Brasstacks talk show host Glyne Murray observed the lawyers keeping the most ‘noise’ in the Barbados space on the the constitutionality of parliament are of Jamaican lineage. In fairness to Russell and Patterson they have been residing in Barbados for a long time, however, the blogmaster understands Murray’s point given the large cohort of Barbadians lawyers educated with our tax dollars.
One of the reasons forwarded why Mottley called an early general election was to quell an uprising by a faction in the BLP. Is it reasonable to opine if a few BLP MPs are dissatisfied with Mottley’s leadership a golden opportunity now presents itself for the malcontents to express themselves by crossing the floor or sounding their voices?
The matter has gone the route of the Court and whatever the decision at first instance is will likely progress to the CCJ. What we have is a people suffering from economic fatigue, COVID-19 fatigue and you may add to the maladies, post election fatigue. Is this another opportunities to blame lawyers?
Former Brathwaite in his released stated in part that he felt “compelled to seek the intervention of the Courts to resolve this controversy, one that centres around issues of vital national importance, and goes to the root of our democracy.” The blogmaster notes the former AG has advised that the matter is being brought in his capacity as a private citizen. How convenient!
Why did this extract from Brathwaite’s statement pique the interest of the blogmaster? Under Brathwaite’s tenure as AG with responsibility for the judiciary, he left it in a worse condition than he found it. The political games that lawyer politicians play mean an already congested court system has to adjudicate a matter created by lawyers.