Black Immigrant Daily News
Black Immigrant Daily News
By Rawlston Pompey
Not only are ‘Fraudulent Acts’ being perpetrated every day, but also everywhere. In the ‘Legal Profession’ to Banking Institutions.’
When this news portal reported that the ‘FBI and the ‘US Securities Exchange Commission (SEC)’ were conducting ‘Cross-Border Investigations’ into financial institutions from the ‘USA to the Bahamas to Antigua and Barbuda,’ know some currency was suspected to have slipped out of some ‘Bank’s Vault’ [November22, 2022].
When people sought to divorce themselves from acts bordering activities often under the scrutiny of the ‘ONDCP,’ know that it would have been enough to pay more this ‘Month’s Salary.’
NOBLEST OF PROFESSIONSNone may deny that the ‘Legal Profession’ has not only been considered prestigious, but also ranked as among the ‘Noblest of Professions.’ The majority of practitioners are legal scholars of professional ethics and integrity. These have been the ones that were often seen as exhibiting exemplary conduct. They are not only highly reputable and respectable, but also in high demand.
Five days a week some ‘Attorneys-at-Law’ were to be seen immaculately attired in ‘Jacketsand Ties.’
They stood before ‘Magistrates sitting on ‘Benches,’ performing multiple MagisterialRoles, either; (a) ‘Conducting Summary trials; or (b) Adjudicating Civil proceedings; or (c)Holding Committal proceedings for Criminal jurisdiction.’
This commentary is neither intended to incur the ‘Wrath of the Bar Council,’ nor concernedwith ‘Banking Institutions’ or ‘Attorneys-at-Law’ that appear not to have exhibited vulture-like instincts.
Instead, its intention is to discourage those with such instincts. Moreover, it isintended to bring awareness to the citizenry, of an apparent unwholesome legal practice. Such practice, by a very small minority, seems not to be consistent with provisions contained in the ‘Legal Profession Act (LPA)’ [No.22 of 2008].
It shall, therefore, bring enlightenment to those that have been ‘Intellectually’ deceived and victimized, and/or financially-deprived.’
It also looks at specific ‘Rules’ governing ‘Professional Misconduct’ and attendant consequences. It further looks at the experiences of the now ‘Vacation-Leaved,’ Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Anthony Armstrong.’
None shall practice ‘Criminal Law’ without the capacity of legal understanding of ‘MischiefsAimed by Parliament.’ Conversely, none shall be elected to the ‘Presidency’ of ‘BarAssociations’ that is likely to adopt the ‘Dog and Cat Idiom.’
This idiom says that the ‘Dog licks him that it likes,’ while the Cat scratches him that it dislikes.’ In the ‘Legal Profession Act,’ that so ‘Aimed,’ could easily be explained by the ‘Law-Degreed,’ but not yet ‘Bar- Called’ to practice as an Attorney, ‘Maria Bird-Browne MP’ [ABS TV/Radio: July 10, 2019.’
She, without a ‘Shadow of Doubt,’ would explain that ‘Clients and Litigants’ of whatever social status and financial standing, shall be protected from ‘Attorneys-at-law’ with‘Kleptomaniac Propensities.’
PROFESSIONAL HONESTYThat which seems not only to be at variance with ‘Professional Honesty,’ but also with ‘Ethics and integrity,’ have been allegations of rampant ‘Fleecing of Clients/Litigants.’ Consequently, it is intended to enlighten victims and potential of the reported ignoble practice.
Long before the present generation of ‘Attorneys-at-Law,’ Parliament had long anticipated that unscrupulous and depraved legal practitioners may seek to ‘Deceive and Defraud’ unsuspecting clients and itigants.
Consequently, in order protect those of inferior intellect, the ‘Legal Profession Act(LPA),’ was enacted.
BEST PROFESSIONBAL PRACTICE
More specifically, the ‘Act,’ purposefully crafted is intended to guide ‘Best ProfessionalPractice’ among legal practitioner. The likely advantages are; (i) Reposing confidence byClients/litigants and members of the wider society; (ii) ‘Embracing the legal practice ofscrupulous Attorneys-at-law; (iii) The Magistracy; (iv) The Judiciary; and most importantly (v) Strengthen belief in the administration and dispensation of Justice; and (d)Engender respect for the ‘Rule of Law.’
NOBILITY FROM RASCALITY
From the author’s perspective, as many ‘Attorneys-at-law’ may have been starved ofknowledge of the ‘Legal Profession Act,’ it was considered prudent to start with the‘Governing Rules.’ It specifically looks at ‘Non-conformity by the ‘Disciplinary Committee ofthe ‘Rule’ that speaks to making public a pronouncement on ‘Disciplinary Findings’ [Section11: LPA: No.22 of 2008].
To all intents and purposes, the ‘Rules,’ as contained in the ‘Act’ are intended; (i) ‘To separate ‘Nobility from Rascality: (ii) To guide the conduct of all Attorneys in the most professional practice: (iii) Ensuring Attorneys do not become ‘Rascals;’ and most importantly, (iv) To offer clients and/or litigants legal protection from ‘Abuse of Intellectual Fleecing.’
RAMPANCY OF RASCALITYThe ‘Rampancy of Rascality and ‘Professional Misconduct’ among a small minority of themembership of the ‘Legal Profession,’ have been of grave concern to a great many peoplewithin the ‘Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).
Research has shown that the ‘Four Most Prevalent Complaints’ have been; (i) ‘Attorneys receiving consultation fees, and not discharging obligations to ‘Consulted Clients/Litigants: (ii) Attorneys retained for trial/hearing have not attended Court, neither with promptitude, nor punctuality; (iii) Attorneys seizing and withholding ‘Litigious Files’ for dissatisfied Clients/Litigants; and (iv) Attorneys with increasing frequency were alleged to have fingered Client’s money.’ It has been the latter that has seen ‘Attorneys in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) jurisdictions of; (i) ‘Barbados; and Jamaica’ been frequently made amenable to law.
CRIES OF CLIENTS/LITIGANTS
Though some ‘Riff-Raffs’ will have been disciplinarily sanctioned, fleecing was said to havecontinued without abatement. Some have left many clients and litigants in ‘MonetaryPurgatory.’
That which all a sundry shall know, is that the ’Legal Profession Act’ [Antiguaand Barbuda], anticipates that ‘Disciplinary Actions’ shall be instituted against theindiscipline.
It shall be seen when Attorneys holding on to ‘Clients/Litigants Files orDocuments,’ they would have committed a ‘Sanctionable Breach’ of the very ‘Rule’ thatgoverns their ‘Professional Conduct.’
A ‘Magistrate’ in mixed-up mood and attitude, could numerically increase the population at the penal institution. These have not only been the ‘Cries of Clients/Litigants.’
TENETS OF PROFESSIONALISMSome ‘OECS Bar Associations’ may benefit from the ‘Public Pronouncement’ by the‘General Legal Council (GLC) [Jamaica].’ When the ‘Disciplinary Findings’ by that bodywas publicly pronounced and published at its website, it had conformed with the requirements of ‘Jamaican Law.’ This not only speaks to the ‘Tenets of Professionalism,’ but also to; (I) ‘Due process of law; (ii) Public liability: (iii) Accountability; and (iv) Transparency.’
This appears to have starkly contrasted the apparent ‘non-conformist behavior’ of the ‘Antigua and Barbuda Bar Association (ABBA).’ Instructively, within the umbrella body is a structured administrative body called; (a) ‘The Bar Council; and (b) A Disciplinary Committee’
[Section 3: Legal Profession Act: No. 22of 2008].
A particular ‘Disciplinary Rule,’ purposefully inserted in the ‘Legal Profession Act,’ and givenacute legislative consideration, appeared not to have been applied. Research has beenunsuccessful in showing that the ‘Bar Council and Disciplinary Committee’ has ever conformto the ‘Rule’ on ‘making public ‘Disciplinary Findings.’
This shall not only be done as the ‘Rule’ dictates, but also as public interest demands. Such appeared to have been among the ‘Considerations of Parliament.’ Thus, a ‘Bar Council President’ that harbors a contrary view, may run the risk of the ‘Chief Justice of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (ECSC)’ and the ‘Attorney General’ and general public saying;
‘The President appeared not sufficiently informed or au fait with the ‘Disciplinary Rules.’
INTEREST AND CURIOSITY
Whatever the ‘Disciplinary Findings’ may be, the ‘Rule’ dictates that ‘Public Pronouncements’ ‘shall be made after ‘an application for disciplinary hearing’ against a dulycited, summoned and heard offending ‘Attorney-at-law.’ It is universally known that the public often have vested or keen interest in ‘Attorney Misconduct,’ whether or not alleged orperceived.
Therefore, in satisfying both ‘Interest and Curiosity,’ at the conclusion of the trial, the verdict of the jury- ‘Convicted and Sentenced’ or ‘Acquitted and Discharged,’ are made public. The Jurisdictions of ‘Jamaica and Barbuda’ make for; (a) ‘Liability: (b)Transparency: and (c) Accountability.’
BUCKLED AND DELIVERED
Supporting reports of ‘File Seizures,’ apart from ‘Clients/Litigants, ‘Chief Magistrate JoanneWalsh,’ may lend attestation.
When a male Defendant appeared before the Court of; (a) ‘Summary: (b) Civil; and (c) Criminal Jurisdictions,’ he invited the ‘Court’s intervention in recovering ‘Documents’ said to have been withheld by a ‘Money- Hawk.’
The accompanying presence of a ‘Court Orderly’ with the ‘Defendant, saw the practicing attorney, ‘Buckled and Delivered’ the Documents. That which ‘Attorneys-at-Law’ continue to initiated for ‘Clients/Litigants,’ the said ‘Legal Profession Act’ provides ‘Litigious Recourse’ tothemselves.
The ‘Act’ not only states that; ‘An Attorney is entitled to practice law, but alsoto sue and recover ‘Fees’ for services rendered’ [Section 20: LPA: No. 22 of 2008].
Even amidst non-refutable ‘Street Whispers,’ there have never been ‘Public Pronouncements’ that corrective measures have been taken for any alleged ‘Professional Misconduct.’
In recent times, this is the small minority have given their ‘Clients and Litigants,’ reasons to believe they are as exploitive as they have been ‘Creatively Acquisitive.’ This minority group, has given the clearest indications that they are in it for ‘Wealth Acquisition.’ Many may not have been when Prime Minister Gaston Browne,’ issued admonishment to his potentially ‘Acquisitively Creative Ministers.’
They were advised that at all material times, they shall show legitimacy forthat which they may acquire, while in public life.
This was particularly highlighted to; (a) ‘Bring public awareness; (b) Bring some measure of respite to victims of ‘Intellectual Skullduggery: (c) Assist the ‘Bar Council’ to better‘Manage’ its organizational affairs; and for (d) The ‘Association’ to have greater ‘DisciplinaryControl’ of errant members.’
Additionally, given the apparent ‘Gravity and Rampancy’ among certain practitioners, this may now occupy the ‘Investigative Attention’ of the ‘Appropriate Authority- Office of National Drug and Money Laundering Policy (ONDCP).
Few may deny that outside of ‘Illiteracy and Stupidity,’ few things are more expensive than‘Education.’ To the affluent or those with visible means and affordability, educationalopportunities are easily within their grasp.
As a consequence, those with affordability are well- positioned to aspire and achieve. To the indigent, life has always been a battle. It has always been up-hill battle and financial struggle has been an unsurmountable challenge.
When ‘Survival Strategies’ forced them into situations whereby they have made the conscious decision ‘Necessity knows no law,’ the law somehow, was always there to prove them wrong in both their thoughts and actions.
PROTECTION AGAINST DECEPTION
In the wider society, and as seen in two jurisdictions, ‘Barbados and Jamaica,’ law enforcerswithin this jurisdiction need no reminder of the ‘Law Enforcement Code of Ethics;’ (a) ‘My fundamental duty is to serve the community; (b) To protect the weak against oppression and intimidation; and most importantly, (c) Protecting the innocent and ignorant, against‘Deception and Fraud’ [LECE: October 1957].
Consequent upon this ‘Truth,’ one may harbor little fear of contradiction, that most ‘Bar Associations; Bar Councils and Presidents’ within the ‘Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS),’ fits the description ascribed to these Statutorily-established organizations, including the ‘Disciplinary Committee of ABBA,’ by ‘Sir Gerald Owen Anderson Watt KCN, King’s Counsel (KC).’
This ‘Committee,’ is not only guided by the ‘Rules of Procedures,’ but also shall conform tothe ‘Disciplinary Control Rules.’ These impose a ‘Legal Duty’ on its membership to publishtheir ‘Findings’ for ‘Public Information.’
There were times when litigants, clients and general public quietly quizzed; (i) ‘Why were there no action initiated against criminally- offending Attorneys? and (ii) ‘Why criminal prosecutions’ have not been instituted against ‘Attorneys for ‘Rascal Behavior’ within ‘Antigua and Barbuda’ and other ‘OECS Jurisdictions?’
The answer may very well lie in the description given by ‘House Speaker and veteran Attorney-at- Law,’ the feisty, indomitable and unconquerable and verbally ruthless, ‘Sir Gerald.’
To all intents and purposes, having been publicly chided, he once described the ‘ABBA’ as a – Useless lot.’
Five days a week, practicing ‘Attorneys-at-law,’ are seen impeccably attired in ‘White collarsand black gowns.’ Among these ‘Good and Noble Officers of the Court,’ were said to be ahandful of depraved ones. These, in their practice, are the unexpected, unsuspected andundetected criminals.
A small minority have been accused of ‘Fleecing’ unsuspecting and vulnerable persons.’ Before clients and litigants could say; ‘Jesus Wept,’ many will have seen their finances being gobbled down, likened to a ‘Turkey’ gobbling down a wormy lunch. Then there are those appearing at the ‘Magistrate’s Courts,’ clad in ‘Jacket and Ties,’ have also been accused of exhibiting ‘Fraudulent Conduct’ that speaks to depravity.
At the higher level of the ‘Judiciary,’ those dressed in ‘White Collars and Black Gowns,’ arethe ones that stand before ‘Judges and Juries.’ These are the ones that often represent persons at the ‘Bar.’ These are the ones under ‘Criminal Indictments.’ Likened to those appearing before the ‘Magistracy,’ a few seemed to have developed a ‘Private Practice,’ that speaks to ‘Deception and Fraud.’ They are often accused of using their ‘Intellectual Knowledge.’
The few have made it demonstrably clear, that their law practice, is to be guided by a ‘Tendency,’ seen only in ‘Parasites.’ Those familiar with the ‘Legal Profession Act,’ know that such practice neither enjoys ‘Legality’ nor ‘Legitimacy.’
UNTOUCHABLE AND UNPROSECUTABLE
Irrespective of ‘Dress Code,’ their conduct infrequently placed them in the category of ‘White- Collar Criminals.’ They were often being seen ‘Untouchable and Unprosecutable.’ Among the populace, this was more of ‘an Observation than a Wish.’ However, from professional knowledge, understanding and practical enforcement of ‘Criminal Law,’ these practitioners, in actuality, will have been living off the ‘Proceeds of Crime’ [POCA: No. 13 of 1993].
Today, it has not necessarily been for the lack of concern for the plight of others.
None may deny how costly ‘Illiteracy and Stupidity,’ has been for the person of indigence.Such costliness has taken second place only to ‘Education.’ The point that has to be clearlymade is that, those that have invested thousands of dollars in pursuit of ‘Academic Education,’ not only know the value of such investment, but shall also seek legitimate ways in earning a living.
In many jurisdictions, including ‘Antigua and Barbuda,’ that which Clients/Litigantshad often been complained of, were ‘Attorneys-at-law,’ that rightly or wrongly, wereconsidered to have possessed ‘Vulture-like instincts.’
These are the ones that were often accused of preying on the ‘Innocence’ of the semi-illiterate, unsuspecting and vulnerable.
OVER- POPULATED LEGAL INDUSTRY
Situationally, whether or not considered the desirable thing to do, some ‘Attorneys’ could adopt no undertaking in representing the indigent. For, in an almost over-populated ‘Legal Industry,’ with a fraternity of ‘some 200 Attorneys-at-law,’ ‘Private Legal Practice’ has entered a ‘Dangerous Zone.’
A small minority was reported to have been ‘Fleecing’ the innocent and ignorant,’ as if there will be no ‘December.’ Competition is tight, thus reducing a legal practice to ‘Opportunism.’ Not infrequently, this has been the among the causes of ‘Human and Financial Miseries.’
MAN MUST LIVE
While the ‘Legal Profession Act’ speaks to certain behavior as ‘Professional Misconduct,’ inthe wider society, this has been criminally classified as ‘Fraudulent Behavior.’ Likened toothers, many will have followed the social commentary of ‘Alphonsus Cassell, ‘Mighty Arrow’ Man must Live’ [1978: YouTube]. Still, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone’ [KJV: Matthew 4: 4].
The Scripture commanded; ‘Thou shalt not steal’ [Exodus 20: 15]. Today, while the‘Needy’ that lives in ‘Despairing Misery,’ snatched a pittance to eat, is dispatched to thepenitentiary, the ‘Greedy’ that huffed ‘Billions’ from Banks, lives in ‘Enviable Luxury.’
ISSUE OF FRAUD
The issue of ‘Fraud’ has always been a statutorily-defined criminal offence. It has always been the function of ‘Law Enforcement.’ Legal practitioners, therefore, shall not only be mindful of conduct that may negatively impact ‘Client/Litigant Relations,’ but they shall also know that likened to other jurisdictions, they are subject to the ‘Rule of Law.’
While some behavior exhibited by some Attorneys-at-Law,’ may border criminality, it was often best dealt with internally by a ‘Disciplinary Committee.’ The purposes contained in the ‘Legal Profession Act,’ shall be better understood from the contents that state; ‘An Act to provide for; (i) ‘The regulation of the Legal Profession; (ii) Qualification of Practitioners; (iii) Enrolment of Practitioners; (iv) Discipline of its members; and (v) For incidental and connected purposes’ [Section 11: LPA: No. 22 of 2008].
The ‘Legal Practitioner’ that may not even have been familiar with these, will have been among the few that, unsuspecting to Clients/Litigants will have been accused of using ‘Intellectual Skills,’ thereby causing the innocent to act to their detriment.
These have often sought to leave ‘Clients or Litigants’ with ‘One Arm or One Leg.’ Incidentally, these will have seen the profession mainly for its; (a) ‘Commercialization; than of its; (b) Nobility; and (c) For ‘Creative Acquisition’ than ‘Service to Humanity.’
In this jurisdiction, shall one speak to the issue of such ‘Service,’ then the names that memorably stands out, must be those in the persona of; (i) ‘The) Ralph Francis’ [Deceased: ANR: March 2, 2021]; and (ii) John Eli Fullers’ [Deceased: ANR: September 28, 2022].
SENSE OF SERVICE
These were not only men of high repute, but also known for their honesty and integrity. These were practitioners of exemplary professional behavior. They were always willing and ready to assist the ‘Undefended Indigent.’ who They had clearly shown that they were endowed with ‘Reason and Conscience.’ These they had seemingly allowed to be their ‘Guiding Principles.’
Today, their ‘Legacy’ lives on. Today, in many, as in this jurisdiction, that culture and ‘Senseof Service’ have changed. Today, the yesteryear practitioners, are not only being remembered, but also being emulated. Shared information provided an understanding that there are several other practitioners of ‘Noble Intent and Deed.’
PRO BONO SERVICES
Those widely-known were identified as ‘Attorneys’ in the persona of the (i) ‘CharlesworthTabors; (ii) Kenny Kentish’s;( iii) Wendell Robinsons: (iv) Andrew O’Kolas; and (v) Lawrence Daniels.’
These shall not be viewed as overshadowing legal services rendered byothers, not so identified. Conscious of the plight of some ‘Defendants/Litigants,’ relying solely on ‘Dock Briefs,’ they have provided ‘Pro Bono Services’ to those viewed as not only living at the ‘Edge of Poverty,’ but also in complete financial misery. Lest it be misconstrued, ‘Truth’ be told, such has never been a dischargeable social responsibility of any ‘Practicing Attorneys.’
A FEW SCALLYWAGS
Dissatisfied with the ‘Professional Conduct,’ they have reportedly caused disciplinary actionsto be instituted against ‘A Few Scallywags.’ Those discretely disclosed and listed in thiscommentary, included (i) ‘An Everette Christian; (ii) A Samuel Peters; and (iii) A YanickBeazer.’ These became victims, when ‘Trusted Attorneys,’ reportedly employed ‘IntellectualStealthiness’ and allegedly ‘Fingered their Monies.’
On this particular issue, though a very small minority of attorneys may have been ‘Secretly disciplined, there has been no public disclosure as the ‘Legal Profession Act (LPA)’ dictates [Section 11: No.22 of 2008]. That said, the ‘Disciplinary Records’ within this jurisdiction, shall reflect recent ‘Harrowing Experiences’ of ‘Applicants.’
Irrespective of him/her that held/holds the ‘Bar Presidency,’ rightly or wrongly, arrogantly or feisty, mincing not his words, ‘Sir Gerald’ had indirectly made the point of ‘PresidentialImpotency.’
If it were not so, both ‘Clients and Litigants’ that have engaged the services ofcertain ‘Legal Practitioners,’ and by extension, the general public, will have heard of‘Findings’ of the ‘Disciplinary Committee.’
They will have heard of sanctions justly and properly imposed upon those found guilty of professional impropriety or ‘Intellectual Rascality.’ The recently-elected ‘President, Cherissa Roberts-Thomas,’ shall not only be mindful of ‘Sir Gerald’s’ uncomplimentary utterings, but shall also follow the dictates of the ‘Rule’ as contained in the ‘Legal Profession Act’ [Section 11: No 22 of 2008].
COSTS AND FEES
Consequent upon certain discussions, it appeared that very often ‘suspicion or misunderstanding or miscommunication’ has been among other reasons for ‘Attorney/Client/Litigant’ turpitude.
Frequently, it seems that suspicious or inflated sums have triggered, either ‘Necessary orUnnecessary’ queries and/or arguments. With only ‘Lopsided Knowledge’ of the ‘LegalProfession Act,’ as well as ‘Perceived Suspect Legal Advice’ tendered.
Those so aggrievedand so dissatisfied with the ‘attitude, interest shown and performance’ of the ‘Attorney,’ have seen many ‘Clients/Litigants’ severing the ‘Legal Services’ offered and engaged. The ‘Legal Profession Act’ interprets ‘Costs’ as include; (a) ‘Fees for any Legal Business’ done by an Attorney-at-Law.’
SHUTTLING BETWEEN COURTS
Conversely, it interprets ‘Fees’ as includes; (i) ‘Remuneration: (ii) Charges; (ii)Disbursements; and (ii) Expenses.’ The latter appears to have been the source of‘Clients/Litigants Troubles and Financial Woes.’ That which ‘Clients/ Litigants’ shall besufficiently made to understand, is that the ‘Cost for Consultation’ (Talking), is not the same as ‘Fees’ for ‘Court Appearances,’ That which ‘Attorneys-at-Law’ shall be mindful of, is that when the name of a ‘Defendant/Plaintiff’ is called, punctuality demands that they are present to identify themselves to the Court as their ‘Legal Representatives.’ Attorneys’ ‘Shuttling Between Courts’ simply to ‘Crave indulgence for Adjournments,’ not only run the risk of being told of biting more than can be chewed,’ but also likely to provoke and incur the ‘Wrath of Clients/Litigants.’
FATEFUL AND AGONIZING
A ‘Fateful and Agonizing’ decision saw the ’17- year prosecutorial tenure of Director ofPublic Prosecutions (DPP), Anthony Armstrong,’ now hanging in the balance. The positionwas as prestigious, as it was enviable. There is testament that he has discharged his‘Prosecutorial Duties’ professionally and faithfully.
In a hostile and vicious environment, it was the effective discharge of his ‘Constitutional Duties’ that saw attitudinal change in some members of the wider society. Even so, he remained undaunted and demonstrated a resolve that he was committed to discharge his prosecutorial duties, not only according to the dictates of the ‘Rule of Law,’ but also int public and national interests.
Some two weeks recently, State and national, regional and international media, have been fixated on ‘Antigua and Barbuda Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Anthony Armstrong.’This resulted, when unwittingly, he travelled to his native-Jamaica following, either a peculiar request or advice apparently void of wisdom [November 7, 2022].
Undoubtedly, the ‘Jamaican- born national’ has now been the subject of criminal prosecutions. His life, legal career, prosecutorial practice and future, now hang in the balance. That which disturbingly and disappointingly followed, was the disingenuous way news reporters, casters and portals chose to ‘Sensationalized his Adversity.’
DOUBLE JEOPARDYThis was made worse with headlines that states; (a) ‘Antigua DPP Charged with Fraud; and(b) Antigua DPP Hit with Additional Fraud Charges’ [Jamaica Gleaner: The JamaicaGleaner: ABS Television/Radio et al].
In the instant case the unfortunate ‘Anthony Armstrong’ may have become a ‘Victim of Double Jeopardy.’ Consequential to ‘an Adverse Decision’ delivered against him, and the imposition of a Fine,’ by a ‘Disciplinary Tribunal,’ should there be a criminal trial, he may very well be advised to ‘Plea Autrefois Convict.’
It has been well established in law that an accused person shall not be tried and punished twice for the same offence.’
As the saga unfolded, some news portals, possibly deceived and/or fed ‘Fake News’ havedisseminated information that his ‘Fate and Future’ now lies in the hands of the St. Lucia-based Judicial and Legal Service Commission (JLSC)’ [ANU: November 10, 2022].
That which ‘Cabinet Minister and Spokesperson’ appeared not to have been apprised was that the embattled ‘Anthony Armstrong’ was said to be enjoying his ‘Vacation/Pre-Retirement Leave Entitlement’ on his native ‘Jamaica’ [November 2022].
Confidential sources have revealed that he is likely to demit office immediately thereafter. Incidentally, there was reported to have been a ‘Pending Disciplinary Appellate Decision,’ prior to the institution of criminal proceedings against him.
DISCIPLINARY CONTROL BODY
Whatever has been his ‘Professional Transgressions,’ the records of the ‘Jamaica GeneralLegal Council (GLC),’ shall show these were alleged to have been committed in a ‘PrivateLaw Practice’ on his native ‘Jamaica’ almost two decades ago’ [2003 -2004]. None has stated, and could not have stated as fact that his entanglement with the law, occurred since assuming the prosecutorial position within the jurisdiction of ‘Antigua and Barbuda’ jurisdiction.’
However, likened to a magician, exploiting the sleight of hands to affect the illusory senses,pulled a ‘Trick from his sleeve,’ criminal proceedings were initiated against the ‘Chief CrownProsecutor’ for the twin-island sovereign nation of ‘Antigua and Barbuda.’
PUBLIC PERCEPTIONSince he had not been cited for ‘Professional Misconduct’ during his ‘Prosecutorial Tenure’[Antigua and Barbuda: October 17, 2005 – November 6, 2022], that which might militatecontinuance in the position, may be that of ‘Public Perception.’ The professional practice and disciplinary control body,’ is a ‘Creature of Statute.’
Its powers are derived from the parliamentary enactment, cited as ‘The Legal Profession Act’ [Jamaica]. Consequent upon such enactment, not only have powers reside in ‘the ‘Disciplinary Committee,’ of three upstanding members of the ‘Legal Profession,’ but the ‘Enactment’ also provides for the establishment of ‘Disciplinary Tribunals’ to hear and determine allegations of ‘Professional Misconduct.’
As it has been the ‘Duty’ of other ‘Bar Presidents,’ the ‘Disciplinary Rule,’ as contained in the ‘Legal Profession Act,’ makes it sufficiently clear for the ‘20-year legal veteran PresidentCherissa Roberts-Thomas’ (ABBA) to enforce the ‘Rule’ for making ‘Public Pronouncements on Disciplinary Findings,’ as the law so dictates. Given the authority-at-law, ‘Disciplinary Findings,’ however serious or grievous, such ‘Findings’ shall never be left to wild public speculations.
If it should be considered a gentle reminder, the ‘Rule’ unambiguouslystates; (a) ‘The Committee shall hear all Applications in camera; and (b) It shall pronounceits findings in public’ [Section 11: Legal Profession Act: No. 22 of 2008]. Such reflects aconsistency with judicially-practiced ‘in-camera criminal trials for Rape.’
Logic, therefore, suggests that had there been ‘Conformity’ to existing and enforceable law,may not only have seen significant improvement in ‘Professional Conduct,’ but also lessdisciplinary hearings for serious breaches that constitute ‘Professional Misconduct.’
Looked at unbiased, and objectively, every member of the ‘Legal Fraternity’ owes it to be so reminded of this particular ‘Rule; ‘The purposes of the ‘Association’ is to maintain and improve the standards of ‘Professional Conduct in Antigua and Barbuda.’ Since it would assist in reinforce ‘…Nobility in the Legal Profession,’ and at the same time help in reducing‘…Rascality in the Professionals,’ thereby strengthen waned or shattered public confidence,Clients and Litigants, and by extension, the citizenry so urged.
Black Immigrant Daily News
Attorney for the families of the dead divers Prakash Ramadhar who grilled Paria engineer Michael Wei at the commission of enquiry on Thursday at the International Waterfront Centre in Port of Spain. PHOTO BY SUREASH CHOLAI –
TECHNICAL maintenance manager for Paria Fuel Trading Company Ltd, Michael Wei, was on the receiving end of a fiery line of questioning on his company’s response to the deaths of four divers, from attorney Prakash Ramadhar on Thursday afternoon.
Ramadhar fired off question after question at Wei, during the third part of the commission of enquiry into the deaths of divers Kazim Jeremiah Ali, Yusuf Henry, Fyzal Kurban and Rishi Nagassar.
The divers died while working on a pipeline at the Paria Fuel Trading Company in Pointe-a-Pierre on February 25.
They all worked for the Land and Marine Construction Services (LMCS) Company Ltd which was contracted by Paria to do maintenance work.
Wei began presenting oral evidence from 11 am and finished when the hearing was adjourned at around 6 pm.
During this time, Wei who was part of the Incident Management Team (IMT) when the divers were trapped, was interrogated by counsel for the CoE Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj, SC, chairman Jerome Lynch, KC, and attorney representing LMCS, Kamini Persaud-Maraj.
Wei was questioned on the extent of his company’s monitoring of contractors hired for certain tasks, the dangers divers would have faced while doing maintenance work and the sequence of events on that fateful date.
Ramadhar, representing the families of Henry and Kurban in a lawsuit against Paria and LMCS, began an intense line of cross-examination of Wei from around 5.10 pm, on what was done to try and rescue the divers trapped in the undersea pipeline.
Ramadhar asked why no divers were sent to rescue those trapped, despite sole diving survivor Christopher Boodram’s information on the conditions in the pipeline, which suggested a safe rescue was possible.
Wei said while he was not on site, Paria’s official Catherine Balkissoon was on site to provide updates on the situation. Ramadhar asked why Boodram’s description of conditions in the pipe was not used to mount a rescue attempt.
“That (Balkissoon) is your official! Did you make any effort to ascertain from her what the man who just came out, who is the best person to tell you the conditions in the pipe, what he actually said?
“Would it shock you to learn that he said, ‘Go in’ words to the effect, ‘Your father is right behind me,’ would it shock you to learn that today,” Ramadhar asked.
“The country has heard it, he gave sworn testimony. We have evidence from others, so let me hear you now.”
Wei insisted a rescue would have been too dangerous to which Ramadhar charged that Michael Kurban, the son of diver Fyzal Kurban, was willing and available to mount his own rescue attempt but was blocked by Coast Guard officials.
Wei also said he found out about Boodram’s information weeks after the event, and said the men were believed to be dead on Sunday afternoon, two days after the accident happened.
He added that from Friday to Saturday, after the incident, efforts were made to find out conditions in the pipe and develop a rescue exercise.
“The efforts were to establish the safety inside the line, without putting other people’s lives at risk.
“The principles of rescue are not to put other people’s lives at risk, it would have been a whole different scenario had Michael (Kurban) gone in, you cannot send someone into the line with unsafe conditions and you end up with a different situation,” Wei said.
Owing to the heated tone of the questions, enquiry chairman Lynch had cause to pause the interrogation and urge Ramadhar to be more measured in his questioning.
“We don’t have a jury, it’s just us two and I understand your enthusiasm on behalf of the families, but please try and contain yourself a little,” Lynch advised Ramadhar.
As Ramadhar sat down after finishing his interrogation at around 5.45 pm, he rose in indignation and protest after Jason Mootoo – one of Paria’s attorneys – remarked that he could not sustain the “drama” arising from Ramadhar’s questioning.
“If it is you’re going to go down that line about making me the issue here, I’m doing my job sir with all due respect and I have clients that are paying me,” an indignant Ramadhar told Mootoo.
Lynch cautioned Ramadhar saying while he understood the importance of his contributions, it was also important to hear the questions from other interested parties.
Black Immigrant Daily News
Passengers in a Sangre Grande-Mayaro route taxi, in Sangre Grande on Thursday. The fare has increased from $20 to $45 after the collapse of a section of the Manzanilla Road meant drivers have to take a longer alternative route. PHOTO BY MARVIN HAMILTON –
THE fallout over the collapse of the Manzanilla-Mayaro Road which is the main thoroughfare linking Sangre Grande to Mayaro, and vice versa, has reached commuters as the regular taxi fare of $20 reached an incredible $45 on Thursday.
With the main thoroughfare being cut off by the collapsed road, taxi drivers and their customers are suffering as vehicles are “under more strain,” and as a result, fares have more than doubled, and travel times have tripled.
Faye-Ann Phillips, who lives in Manzanilla and works in Mayaro, said she has to be ready for work hours earlier.
“I left at 5.30 am and reached Mayaro at around 7. 30 am. It takes 30 to 40 minutes (on the main route). Depending on the traffic, it could now take two to three hours. It usually costs $20 from here to Sangre Grande but now we’ve been told we have to pay $45. “We do not know how long it would take to fix the road,” Phillips told Newsday on Thursday while seated in a taxi in Mayaro.
Another passenger, Tricia Fletcher, of Ortoire Village, said she works in Sangre Grande, and the collapsed road has caused her significant inconvenience. She now also has to take a longer route to visit her children in Mayaro.
Arlene Brazer of Arima said she visited Mayaro to do some shopping.
Owing to erosion and flooding on Wednesday, part of the Manzanilla Mayaro Road collapsed, causing the Ministry of Works and Transport to close the road between the 61km to 70km marks.
The ministry said the closure was necessary to ensure the safety of drivers and the travelling public. It advised the public to use alternative routes.
On Thursday afternoon, the ministry said its technical team was on site assessing the situation to provide a feasible solution for the reinstatement of the roadway in the shortest possible time.
Taxi drivers plying the Mayaro-Sangre Grande route said the alternative route, through Rio Claro and Biche and onto the Plum Mitan Road, then to the Eastern Main Road, is tedious, long and bad.
“Even the Devil is afraid to pass on that Plum Mitan Road, it is that bad. Business is also slow. Drivers are making two trips, for the most, for the day. With the heavier passengers, our vehicles are dragging on the bad road. The police want us to have road-worthy cars, and we do not have road-worthy roads,” taxi diver Ansel Oliver said.
He awaited passengers at the taxi stand at Peter Hill Trace, Mayaro.
Oliver said, “This is the third major flood we have had for the year. This is the worst. The water started coming up on Sunday. By lunchtime it was so high I stopped working for the day. The Manzanilla Mayaro Road is the shortest route.”
He hopes that while ministry officials are planning to fix the collapsed road, they also do some temporary relief on the Plum Mitan Road.
Another taxi driver, Anderson Bartholomew, said: “This new route is costing us more. The drive is longer and the road is damaging our vehicles.” The longer drive means an increase in fuel cost, and drivers are hoping for a permanent fix.
They recalled that the major floods of 2014, made the same road impassable for over a month.
The Public Transport Service Corporation (PTSC) has temporarily suspended all services to Guayaguayare operating out of its Sangre Grande depot. PTSC said services would resume once it is safe to do so.
Black Immigrant Daily News
Whether the Mia Mottley-led administration adds another bank holiday to the calendar of public holidays or not in order to commemorate both Independence Day and Republic Day is neither here nor there to the Democratic Labour Party (DLP), once both days get their due dates.
In a press conference held at their George Street headquarters on November 23, DLP Chairman Steven Blackett told media personnel, both Independence Day and Republic Day “don’t have to be celebrated with a bank holiday.
“If you have a day for Independence, which is a bank holiday, we’ve acknowledged it since 1966, celebrating Republic Day does not have to be a public holiday.”
And though he posited that “we can eliminate one of the other holidays” he was adamant that the solution to this problem should not come from the Opposition…
“There are two distinct days. Independence Day is the 30th of November, and it was so from the 30th of November 1966, and it should remain that way. Republic Day is a separate and distinct day, but if you start wrong, you’re going to end wrong, and therefore we believe as a party, that Republic Day should be a separate and distinct day completely from Independence Day. If the mistake was made a year ago that it coincided with Independence Day, then we should go the very next day, which is the first of December, or the day before the 29th of November, but certainly it should not be celebrated on the same day as Independence. There are two distinct days and they should be celebrated in two distinct ways…
“But it is not for us as a party. We are the opposition party, not even having a seat in government. The government has been given the car to drive and they should drive the car. Drive the car and find the solutions. Don’t complain to us about the wipers not working and the back leg not working and the trunk not functioning. That is their job.”
Meanwhile, Democratic Labour Party executive member Irene Sandiford-Garner added, “We’re not setting a precedent there either because… there are other countries throughout the world who have decided that they no longer wish to have the the Queen as Head of State and they have their Republic Day and they have the Independence.
“Independence Day is the signal achievement of Errol Walton Barrow and the signal achievement of the Democratic Labour Party. So to remove the name Independence Day speaks volumes, because there are alternatives.”