– reportedly says “the last Magistrate who did this to me was found dead”
Attorney General, Basil Williams, SC, has reportedly issued an indirect threat to High Court Judge Justice Franklin Holder in today’s matter involving Carvil Duncan as it pertains to his suspension as Chairman of the Public Service Commission.
Duncan’s attorney Anil Nandall in a statement outlined that Williams’ during the closing of cross-examinations of Duncan and his Confidential Secretary, became frustrated that he was not receiving favourable answers and “accused the Judge of not accurately recording the evidence.”
According to Nandlall, the “Judge rightfully took umbrage to the accusation. An angry Williams in a loud tone of voice repeated the accusations. The Judge, again admonished him about the accusation and about his tone of voice, Williams then blurted out loudly, ‘the last Magistrate who did that to me was later found dead… and I am saying so… that the last Magistrate who did this to me was found dead.’ In obvious shock, the Judge walked off the bench, without adjourning the matter.”
Nandlall said that no Judge should be the subject of “that type of assault” and noted that while it is up to Magistrate Holder to determine what course of action he will take, for him “by any standard, such a conduct by an Attorney-at-Law
See Nandlall’s full statement below:
Did Basil Williams threaten to kill a Judge ? Read for yourself…
As you may recall, the legal challenge filed by Mr. Carvil Duncan against the attempt to remove him as Chairman of the Public Service Commission, a member of the Police Service Commission and a member of the Judicial Service Commission is being heard in the High Court by Justice Franklin Holder. A conflict of facts have arisen in the various affidavits filed. Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo contends that his office served Carvil Duncan with a letter dated 29th March 2016, which he claims was received at the Public Service Commission on the 14th April 2016, calling upon Duncan to show cause within fourteen (14) days why he should not be removed from the aforesaid positions.
Mr. Duncan and his Confidential Secretary in their affidavits swore that no such letter was every received at the Public Service Commission. They both contend that indeed a letter from the Prime Minister’s office was received on the 14th April 20176, but that letter, addressed to Mr. Duncan, informed him of a Public Service Conference which was to be held in London, England later that year.
In order to resolve this conflict in the affidavits, Justice Holder ordered the persons who swore the affidavits be crossed-examined. Duncan was first to take the stand two weeks ago. After about two hours of cross-examination on the first occasion and another hour today, by Attorney General, Mr. Basil Williams, Mr. Duncan held firm to his version. In fact, most of the questions asked of Mr. Duncan by the AG were wholly irrelevant to the issue. In the end, in my view, not a single favourable answer was elicited by cross-examination.
Mr. Duncan’s Confidential Secretary next took the stand. Again, most of the cross-examination was irrelevant. Again, no favourable answer was elicited.
As the cross-examination was coming to an end, a frustrated Mr. Williams baselessly and unfairly accused the Judge of not accurately recording the evidence. The Judge rightfully took umbrage to the accusation. An angry Williams in a loud tone of voice repeated the accusations. The Judge, again admonished him about the accusation and about his tone of voice, Williams then blurted out loudly, “the last Magistrate who did that to me was later found dead… and I am saying so… that the last Magistrate who did this to me was found dead.” In obvious shock, the Judge walked off the bench, without adjourning the matter.
It is a matter now for the Judge, in terms of what course of action, he will pursue against Mr. Williams. Speaking for myself, by any standard, such a conduct by an Attorney-at-Law in the face of the Court is contumacious contempt and must be condemned in the strongest possible fashion. That it comes from the Head of the Bar, compounds the travesty. Such exhibitions of crass disrespect for members of the Judiciary by the Attorney General, unfortunately, are not isolated incidents, but are becoming a pattern. No Judge should be subject to this type of assault. It is a fundamental principle of justice that Judges must be permitted to function in an environment that is free from intimidation, abuse and threats.
On the last occasion, the Prime Minister was forced to do damage-control when the Former Chancellor, Mr. Carl Singh, was the victim. Let us see if this type of conduct will be condoned again.