No complaint of threats …Justice Holder gives reason for leaving bench.
Attorney General, Basil Williams
March 28, 2017 Source
-writes chancellor on High Court incident
JUSTICE Franklin Holder said he left the bench last week Thursday during the Carvil Duncan trial because of an alleged statement made by Attorney General, Basil Williams, which is: “I could say what I want to say and however I want to say it, I have always been like that.”
“Immediately after hearing these words, I rose from the Bench and went into my Chambers. I did not adjourn the matter, nor did I give any instructions to the parties,” Justice Holder mentioned in a letter of complaint addressed to Chancellor of the Judiciary (ag), Yonette Cummings-Edwards, which was seen by this newspaper.
His letter made no mention of any “threat”, and although he referenced Williams’ statement about a dead magistrate, Justice Holder made no specific complaint about it nor did he describe it as a threat.
People’s Progressive Party MP, Anil Nandlall had made the allegations that Williams had threatened to kill the judge- a claim which Williams has denied. During a news conference last Friday Williams in detailing what transpired said that he was cross-examining Duncan, who is being represented by Nandlall, and the latter kept interrupting the court. Williams, SC said that when the Judge announced that he was about to adjourn the matter, he (Williams) made a request to ask a final question, which he was permitted to do. The AG said that after he had asked his final question to the confidential secretary of Duncan, since she was the one being cross-examined, he thanked her and proceeded to his seat.
Ex abundanti cautela
He then stated that: “When I was about to sit, I saw the Judge was about to leave and I said ex abundanti cautela; out of excessive caution could I enquire the answer ‘no’ was recorded. The Judge, to my surprise said, Mr. Williams you’re not in-charge of my court.” The AG related that the Judge then said that he interprets what Williams said to mean that he (the Judge) did not record a previous answer given by the witness, and that he (the Judge) takes great umbrage to that.
Williams, SC said he then shared an experience which happened years ago, where a magistrate presiding over a matter he was involved in had interpreted something he said, differently. He said that since then he has been “particular” about what he says in court and “incidentally, that magistrate is dead now”.
He noted that after this, he continued his conversation with Justice Holder, after which Nandlall “jumped in as though he was under the influence of something” and the Judge left the benches. The AG said that his view is that the Judge had intended to leave but he (Williams) had detained him by asking another question. He said that no date was given by the Judge for a continuation of the hearing, as he has the option of sending notices to counsel about new dates.
Judy Stuart- Adonis, Senior Legal Advisor, who was in court during the incident, in a statement seen by this newspaper said the AG was insistent in the inconsistencies of the witness being recorded, after which he subsequently referenced a former Magistrate, who also misconstrued him and that Magistrate is now deceased, meaning he/she is no longer a sitting Magistrate. Esther Sam, Principal Legal Adviser at the AG chambers also gave a similar account.
Meanwhile, in light of the accusations against him that he threatened to kill the judge, the AG on Friday had warned that he will take legal actions against the media houses that repeated the allegations by Nandlall. “I practiced law for 33 years and no allegations have been made against me in the practice of my profession. Newspapers have come out and I shall be taking actions against those newspapers” he told reporters.
The AG said that he will be taking actions because several weeks ago he warned that it was no longer “free day” on his name, as he would not permit anyone to filch his “good name”.
“I have never done acts of corruption” AG Williams maintained.
He went on to state that the accusation by Nandlall, who is a former AG, “reeks of crass disrespect” and is an “assault on the government,” since he (Williams) is a government minister. “I gave warning. I am not going to allow people to attack me and my office. It is an assault on the government. We have to ensure people’s reputation are protected” the AG said, confirming that legal actions will also be taken against Nandlall.