Chairman of the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into the deadly Camp Street Prison riots, Retired Justice James Patterson has described the actions of Guyana Bar Association (GBA) President Christopher Ram as “outrageous” after he walked out of the CoI on Wednesday.
In a strongly worded statement issued late yesterday afternoon, Justice Patterson said the attorney “displayed the tantrums of a five-year-old who cannot get his way on the ball field”.
“This he did on the 20th March, 2016 ultima by throwing tantrums and slamming the door to the CoI Hearings Room and made off with his bat and ball because he was not allowed to bat first,” the statement added.
The CoI head noted that he has not seen such “petulance and disrespect” in his nearly 55 years since being called to the Bar.
Justice Patterson further added that “Mr Christopher Ram’s conduct widely reported in the press reflects the very nadir of ethical display in the practice of what has always been known as ‘the noble profession’… It is unfortunate that practitioners like [Ram] have traduced this glorious heritage and lofty in exchange for the standards and mores of a cad and bounder. The linguistic and behavioural glory that once prevailed, yes, right here in Guyana, have yielded to the conduct and manners of the gutter… we can disagree without being disagreeable while submitting with grace to lawful and established authority.”
Ram was however commended for offering his services to the Commission, “pro bono” – free of charge.
The statement further explained that attorney representing the Joint Services, Selwyn Pieters was also upbraided for some of his statements. Justice Patterson also observed that Pieters profusely and sincerely apologised for his actions.
It was also noted that the Commission has been “hamstrung” by time constraints to fulfil its mandate to conclude the CoI in “a matter of weeks”.
“Unfortunately, counsel on both sides of the Bar table ostensibly in pursuit of the interests of their respective clients have rebelled against the imposition of time constraints imposed by the Commission. This guillotine on the time given to counsel to conclude cross examination, especially where irrelevance infiltrates, is necessary for otherwise counsel would proceed inexorably on,” the release stated.
It was during the cross-examination of Deputy Director of Prisons Gladwin Samuels that the Bar Association opted to withdraw, citing time constraints in examining witnesses and what Ram described as “improper, unethical and unprofessional” objections being raised by the attorney representing Joint Services.
“Mr Chairman, I am not going to take this interruption from the other side unless it’s a proper point of objection, we had enough from that side,” Ram had expressed.