LAWYERS in the NEWS

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No single profession attracts the ire of Barbadians like lawyers. On a daily basis For example, we often hear complaints about lawyers taking unreasonably long periods of time to transfer monies from clients accounts to their clients. The complaints come from Barbadians living overseas  who having entrusted life long savings (pensions) to lawyers to settle various transactions in absentia or Barbadians on the rock who have no choice but to take on the stress of the legal system to process routine transactions.

The Bar Association (BA) has done little to assuage the concerns by Barbadians that it is an efficient self regulating body.  Suggestions to include ordinary folks on the BA’s Disciplinary Committee has not met with a favourable response. There is a sense lawyers and by extension the legal system has the country in a vice grip headlock.    Where are ordinary citizens to turn for justice if the Court System, its trusted officers (lawyers) and the BA continue to NOT satisfactorily resolve concerns from citizenry?

BU accepts bad apples are to be found in all professions – doctors, engineers, construction class, bankers and the list is very long. However, what cannot be denied is the ‘omnipresence’ nature of the legal profession on our little society. What cannot be denies is the right of Barbadians to assign priority to issues affecting them as they think fit.  The time for citizens, ordinary and others, to fight back.

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108 comments

  • QC files appeal before CCJ

    The longstanding litigation involving the Kingsland Estates could have far-reaching consequences for a number of Court of Appeal decisions yet to be given.
    Queen’s Counsel Alair Shepherd has filed an appeal before the Caribbean Court of Justice, challenging the constitutionality of two former Court of Appeal Judges – Dame Sandra Mason who is Governor General of Barbados and Justice Andrew Burgess, a judge of the CCJ, to deliver a decision in the case.
    When contacted Shepherd told the Sunday Sun: “We are appealing that decision and one of the grounds we are putting in is that the court could not render a decision because the court was not properly constituted.”
    Dame Sandra who was appointed Governor General in 2017 and Justice Burgess who was elevated to the CCJ last year have continued to render decisions in Court of Appeal cases which they presided over during their time on the judicial bench.
    Back in June both of their signatures appeared on a Court of Appeal decision in the case Knox vs Deane, one of the oldest cases on the court’s calendar having first been filed in 1998.
    An appeal was made in the case back in 2010 and heard before the tripartite court which consisted of former Chief Justice Sir Marston Gibson as well as then Court of Appeal Judges, Dame Sandra and Justice Burgess.
    The decision was delivered on June 26 in which Sir Marston took personal responsibility for the lengthy delay in the judgement writing: “I sincerely apologise for the length of time it has taken to deliver this judgement for which I am entirely responsible.”
    The document bore the signatures of both Dame Sandra and Justice Burgess with the words: “I concur” next to each signature.
    Shepherd in his appeal to the CCJ noted that the decision was rendered by Sir Marston on June 26, sitting with two other Court of Appeal judges.
    Among the grounds of appeal filed he charged that the decision made on June 26 was “invalid and void as at the time when this decision was delivered one member of the appellate panel ( Mason J.A) had been appointed to the executive as Governor General of Barbados; while another member (Burgess J.A) had been elevated to the Caribbean Court of Justice and both of these judges remained in their respective posts on the date of the delivery of their decisions and had not sworn or were they subject to the oath of office of a Justice of Appeal in Barbados and were therefore unable to sit and deliver their decision as judges of the Court of Appeal of Barbados at the time their decision was delivered; Also that the decision made by the Court of Appeal is “null and void as the membership of the presiding panel . . . comprised interalia the Hon Governor General which said office holder represents the Executive branch of the Government of Barbados . . . and has acted in breach of the doctrine of the separation of powers”; and “that the Court of Appeal was not properly constituted as at the day of the delivery of their judgement on the 26th of June 2020.”
    When contacted Shepherd said he had served the appeal on all the parties involved as well as Attorney General, Dale Marshall.
    “Essentially what we are saying is my client received a decision from the Court of Appeal which comprised Justice Burgess; Justice Mason and the Chief Justice. My client is now appealing that decision on a number of grounds one of which is that the court was not properly constituted at the time when the decision was made,” he stated.
    “That argument rest on the fact that at the time when the decision was given one of the judges in the Court Of Appeal was the Governor General and as such is head of the executive of the government and another judge, Justice
    Andrew Burgess, had been appointed to the CCJ. In those circumstances we say that the court which is a court of three judges was not properly constituted and therefore any decision that it gave would not be a valid decision from the Court of Appeal of Barbados,” he said adding that “it offends against the principle of the separation of powers.”
    “We are not satisfied that at the time when the decision was given they were acting under the oath of office which is administered to judges in the Court of Appeal and essentially we will argue that a decision of a court in order to be valid has to come from an independent judiciary,” the Queen’s Counsel added.

    Source: Nation

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  • Appeal Court reserves decision in Pile case
    The Court of Appeal has reserved its decision on whether there will be a retrial for attorney Vonda Pile.
    Pile, of Madison Terrace, Deacons Farm, St Michael, was found guilty of stealing US$96 008 belonging to Anstey King, between April 29, 2009, and October 26, 2010, and sentenced to three years in June 2019.
    She was released on $200 000 bail in June this year pending the outcome of the appeal.
    On Friday, Queen’s Counsel Andrew Pilgrim, Kamisha Benjamin and Rasheeda Edwards argued for a retrial before Acting Chief Justice Rajendra Narine, Justice of Appeal Jefferson Cumberbatch and Justice of Appeal Francis Belle.
    “We would suggest in this case it would have been appropriate for the judge to give greater directions on the issue of probate and the issue of conveyance. . . . We are going to suggest that those things could still assist the appellant in showing her reasons and improving her defence,” Pilgrim said.
    He added that if the court found there was an error, the matter could be retried and still be dealt with in a way that could benefit all the parties, than if the court were to find that the conviction was proper.
    The senior attorney also urged the court to look at where the appellant was cross-examining King.
    “She makes it clear she is still engaged in a dispute with Mr King over not only her fees in the matter, but also her costs in the civil matter, which reached the stage of a judgement being set aside and costs being ordered for the appellant,” he said.
    Pilgrim contended that the charge of money laundering, on which Pile was acquitted, was a dangerous one and questioned why she was tried on it.
    “It seems that one would need to show a reason why this is not done in every theft case. Other attorneys charged in similar fashion don’t have this charge. In my humble view, it is an unfortunate charge to have at all . . . just the sound of it, in my humble submission, is dangerous,” he said.
    The prosecution team of Principal Crown Counsel Krystal Delaney, Crown Counsel Oliver Thomas and Crown Counsel Kevin Forde said there were three other cases where attorneys had been charged with theft and money laundering.
    Delaney said it could not be divorced that Pile was an attorney, had presented the jury with a version of events, but had produced no documents to support her claims.
    The conviction centres on allegations that King, a Barbadian living in Brooklyn, New York, employed Pile to procure a piece of land in Barbados and approached the attorney after he used her services to buy his house in Strathclyde, St Michael.
    Pile showed him a piece of land in Maxwell, Christ Church, and quoted $290 000 and $295 000. He paid all the money upfront.
    On a trip home, when King went to look at the land, he realised it was not the parcel he was previously shown or signed the conveyance for and told Pile he wanted his money back.
    Pile refunded him US$48 000. However, after months of trying to recover his monies, he went to the police.
    King denied ever having a conversation with the lawyer about forfeiture of any deposit, or about waiting for absolute closure of the sale, or until the probation of the vendor’s estate. (RA)

    Source: Nation

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  • Court delays ‘obscene’
    REMAND PRISONERS AWAIT TRIAL FOR YEARS WITH NO ACCESS TO PRISON PROGRAMMES
    Accused persons who cannot afford bail should not be made to languish away in prison until whenever their cases are called.
    Attorney-at-law Lalu Hanuman has suggested that Government look into using ankle bracelets to monitor persons who are not deemed a threat to society so they can carry on with their lives as they await trial.
    An irate and upset Hanuman made the comments moments after his 37-year-old client Lionel Wilson walked out of the Supreme Court a free man after he was found not guilty of raping a 73-year-old woman four years ago.
    The former accused man who was born in Barbados but spent the majority of his life in St Vincent, had been on remand at HMP Dodds since being charged in 2016.
    And while he was happy that “justice had been served”, Hanuman said it was a shame Wilson had lost four years of his life, despite police having a very weak case against him.
    “This man has spent four years in prison on remand. To me it’s totally disgraceful. The evidence was so weak; there was no forensic evidence, there was no medical evidence. They should never have pursued this case. The DPP [Director of Public Prosecutions] should have withdrawn this case,” Hanuman charged.
    “It’s obscene that this matter has gone this far and even more pertinent to me, having somebody on remand for four years awaiting trial – and it would have even been longer but we pushed for an early date – because this man could not get any bail. He doesn’t have any local contacts and he wasn’t able to get any sureties.
    “What we should be having in Barbados is the same type of bracelet system that they are now talking about introducing for tourists who are coming into Barbados in terms of ensuring they don’t leave their hotels and so on. People who are facing a charge, as long as they are not posing any threat to the public should be let out from prison with a bracelet on their ankles…It’s called electronic tagging,” he contended.
    Hanuman said it was a common practice among many countries in the world.
    He said what was especially frightening was the fact that there were more people in similar situations at HMP Dodds.
    Hanuman said he was aware of a situation where a man had spent almost 12 years on remand for a murder charge simply because he could not afford to post bail.
    To make matters worse, the veteran attorneyat-law noted that persons on remand were not privy to any of the prison’s educational or rehabilitation programmes.
    “It’s not just Mr Wilson, there are so many other people. I was in court the other day and this guy was telling the judge that he has been in prison for 11 years and 10 months on a murder charge awaiting trial. It’s obscene.
    “When somebody is on remand, they’re not entitled to anything. They’re not entitled to any educational process in the prison, they’re not given any sort of support. They’re just left there to rot. Once you’re convicted you have art programmes, you have carpentry, you have all kinds of things available to you but on remand you have nothing,” Hanuman maintained.
    “This man has wasted four years of his life and now they’ve just thrown him out into the street. He literally has nowhere to go to tonight.
    He has not a cent in his pocket. I have now to try to find him accommodation and try to find him some money.
    “Where’s the apology from the State for depriving this man of four years of his life? There needs to be an urgent change in the system.”

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  • READY TO WORK
    After swearing-in, CJ says it will take huge team effort
    Making it clear that there was no time for basking in the adulation that comes with one’s elevation to the highest judicial office in the land, Barbados fifth Chief Justice since Independence, Patterson Cheltenham, says he is ready to roll up his sleeves to begin addressing issues such as case delays and backlogs in the system.
    Cheltenham, who took the oath of office yesterday, administered by Governor General Dame Sandra Mason at Government House, said that from as early as tomorrow he plans to carry out extensive consultation with his judges to tackle issues.
    ‘Mission critical’ “Mission critical for me is to speak to my judges from Monday morning, lay out my plans and hear from them because it is going to take an enormous team effort. I will have to work with them, and they will have to work with me, and I don’t propose at this initial stage to speak on matters that first have to be discussed with them, but there are serious issues that we will be discussing. What I can tell you is that prior to today I would have spoken with everyone. I have had a good reception thus far and I anticipate that this will continue,” said Cheltenham.
    Cheltenham, who replaces Sir Marston Gibson, disclosed that he had already devised a plan that would deal with most of the longstanding issues but underscored the importance of deeper assessment to ensure that his vision was in keeping with realities and capabilities of the system.
    “There are a lot of things that must be addressed, and I have a clearly articulated plan, but one must remember that I have never been to the building [Supreme Court] other than as a lawyer. Going in as the Chief Justice is a completely different role and I am assuming nothing because there will be things that I will find once I arrive there, but I have to first listen and ensure that plans I have are in sync with what I find,” he said while stressing that the details of his plan would be revealed after his consultation with the judges.
    A first
    After the ceremony, which began promptly at 11 a.m., Attorney General Dale Marshall told the media that Cheltenham’s appointment represented the first time that someone with a sole private practice background was appointed to the position. He argued that this departure from the norm could result in a fresh vantage point from which the issues hindering the court system could be approached.
    “This is the first time that someone who served entirely in the private Bar has ascended to the office of Chief Justice, and that brings with it a particular dynamic, as it brings an individual who has a perspective from the other side of the fence. Having lived and worked through it, he would understand the challenges of a system where justice is not delivered with dispatch. So, I think we are going to benefit
    from this unique perspective and insights from a Chief Justice who has been in the hustle all these years. His legal mind is brilliant, and I am proud to be at an occasion such as this,” said Marshall.
    Also in attendance at the swearingin was the Chief Justice’s older brother and former President of the Senate, Sir Richard Cheltenham, who said he was proud of his sibling’s achievement. “I am filled with pride and delighted to see him assume the office of Chief Justice of Barbados. I wish him well and I hope the many family members who are abroad will have the opportunity to share in the occasion through photographs, but it is for all of us a happy and memorable occasion,” he said. (CLM)

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  • Ultimatum
    GOVERNMENT HAS 14 DAYS TO RESPOND “FAVOURABLY” OR LAW SUIT WILL BE FILED
    By Emmanuel Joseph
    Government is being threatened with a lawsuit over the alleged breach of a former prisoner’s constitutional rights.
    Queen’s Counsel Michael Lashley, attorney for Shad Gabriel Orlando Slocombe, today dispatched letters to Commissioner of Police Tyrone Griffith and Attorney General Dale Marshall, giving them 14 days from receipt of the correspondence to favourably reply or they will face the law courts.
    Lashley told Barbados TODAY his first wish is for an out-of-court settlement for undisclosed damages.
    “Failing that, we will sue,” he declared. Lashley initiated the action after his client was set free on five counts of aggravated burglary during his appearance before High Court Justice Carlisle Greaves last week, when an alleged confession statement was thrown out.
    The attorney claimed Slocombe was not treated as he should have been while in custody and being interrogated, thus leading to the legal action now threatened against the authorities.
    Last Wednesday, during Slocombe’s trial, a voir dire was held in the absence of the jury, to determine the admissibility of a statement allegedly made by Slocombe on February 2, 2018 at Hastings Police Station.
    Lashley had objected to the statement, on the grounds that his client was beaten and ill-treated and not fed while in police custody and during the taking of the alleged confession statement.
    In an interview with Barbados TODAY, the senior counsel also contended that his client, who was 18 years at the time, was not fed until the day after the alleged statement was taken. He said the police station diary confirmed that.
    “It was unfair to question the accused man from the evening time until the night time without being fed, and this sapped his will.
    The station diary also revealed that he was asthmatic,” the Queen’s Counsel said as he explained what he told the court.
    After hearing submissions from Lashley as well as prosecutor Neville Watson, who appeared in association with Rudolph Burnette, Justice Greaves threw out the confession statement, deeming it inadmissible, and set Slocombe free on all counts.
    His co-accused, Niko Antonio James, had pleaded guilty to the same charges two months earlier.
    Slocombe, of Country Park Towers, St Michael, had been charged along with James, with entering Mohammed Patel’s home as a trespasser and stealing two cellular phones and $1 700 in cash belonging to Patel. The total value of the stolen property was $4 000.
    They were also charged with stealing, from the same house, one cellular phone and $50 (total value $1 850) belonging to Asef Mangera; $300 belonging to Latif Patel; one cellular phone and $350 (total value $2 150) belonging to Ahmed Kara; and one cellular phone and $50 (total value $1 850) belonging to Ismail Hans.
    At the time of the incident, lawmen said, the two had a firearm and a knife.
    Slocombe had pleaded not guilty to the charges on November 2, 2020, before Justice Greaves.
    Attorney Seantelle Parris appeared in association with Lashley who described the ruling in his client’s case as historic, as he noted that it is rare for confession statements to be thrown out in a voir dire.
    He contended that police could have recorded Slocombe’s station on camera, a procedure that currently has legislative backing.
    (emmanueljoseph@barbadostoday.bb)

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  • Good job as usual, Carlisle Greaves! These allegations have been going on for too many years. Time this problem is solved. This is 2020 and technology is available.

    But why did Michael Lashley and Adriel Brathwaite and company allow this to happen to the suspect?????

    Allegedly happen, of course.

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  • @Donna

    Preferred others to make the observation. Many get caught up in the theatre losing sight of the root.

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  • ” their duty as young attorneys-at-law to the court and to their clients and as trustees in relation to funds that are placed in their care,” Marshall said.

    https://barbadosunderground.net/tales-from-the-courts/lawyers-in-the-news/

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