AG’s ‘threat’ to Justice Holder must not be swept under the carpet- Jagdeo

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Leader of the Opposition Dr Bharat Jagdeo

President David Granger is being called out for condoning the behaviour of his Attorney General (AG) Basil Williams, SC.

Opposition Leader Dr Bharrat Jagdeo says he is not satisfied with the pace or level at which the incumbent Administration  is addressing the issue of AG Williams’ “inappropriate behaviour” towards High Court Judge Justice Franklin Holder on March 23.
He said if the President does not take any actions against the AG, then the public will be exposed to his true nature.
President David Granger had recently assured that the matter will be resolved soon.
 
The Head of State said he received “formal questions” from acting Chancellor of the Judiciary, Justice Yonette Cummings-Edwards, and asked Williams to respond.
 
The President said Williams’ explanation is different from what is reported in the media.
 
It is still unclear however, what actions, if any, the executive will be taking against Williams over his confrontation with the High Court judge.
 
         (L) Attorney General Basil williams, SC and (R) Justice Franklyn Holder

The issued stemmed from an exchange between the Attorney General and Justice Holder on March 23, which caused the judge to storm out of the courtroom without adjourning the proceedings that was before him.

The AG was quoted as having said, “I could say what I want to say and however I want to say it, I have always been like that” and “…The last Magistrate who did that to me was later found dead.”
 
The following day after the incident, Justice Holder had formally complained to the Chancellor of the Judiciary that he abruptly walked out of the courtroom because of statements made by the Attorney General.

The High Court Judge said he “took umbrage to his [Williams’] tone and what he was insinuating, which was in effect that the court was being selective in recording the evidence”.

The Judge said Williams responded by saying that the last person who told him what he should not say was a Magistrate and he was now dead.

According to Justice Holder “Mr. William’s behavior was highly contemptuous and deserving of him being cited for contempt in the face of the Court. Instead of doing so at that moment, I chose to leave the Bench.”

He continued “however, it does not mean that Mr. Williams’ behavior should go unattended. He is not only a Senior Counsel, he is also the Attorney General and leader of the Bar. His behaviour begs the question, whether he is respectful and aware of the functions and duties that attend these offices.”

Jagdeo in a prior statement had called for Williams to be removed from his post or shuffled off to another Ministry for his inappropriate remarks against a High Court Judge.

“We can’t take lightly, as banter, the words of the Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, in court… This is not just an ordinary lawyer going to court and making these statements to a Judge, this is Attorney General, Minister, Leader of the BAR, Senior Council, that’s the difference,” the Opposition Leader explained.

Former Speaker of the National Assembly, Ralph Ramkarran, SC

Former Speaker of the National Assembly, Ralph Ramkarran, SC, in his weekly “Conversation Tree” column had cited the Legal Practitioners (Amendment) Act 2010 and outlined that “since a private apology is now out of the question, because the Judge’s letter demanding an apology in open court is in the public domain, Mr Williams could now be forced to consider a public apology. Failing this, the Chancellor (ag) can convene the Full Court and set in motion the process to hear a complaint of misconduct against Mr Williams. The Full Court can impose a penalty as severe as disbarment.”

Williams’ incident occurred during the ongoing trial of Carvil Duncan, who had moved to the court to block the work of a presidential tribunal that was set up to determine whether he should be removed from his post as Chairman of the Public Service Commission in light of his criminal charges.

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