Professional politician, former Acting Prime Minister, Senior Cabinet Minister and Attorney General Sir David Simmons announced his resignation from the position of Chief Justice, effective April 29, 2010 – the day after his 70th birthday. Sir David refused to answer a reporters question about whether or not he asked to retain the position for another two years.
(Hmmmmm… that’s interesting. Why wouldn’t a person just say “No, I didn’t apply for an extension” ???)
Simmons’ announcement was no surprise. As we said in our June 28, 2009 article Let’s Hope Our Next Barbados Chief Justice Isn’t A Political Hack Like SIR David Simmons…
“Prime Minister David Thompson has no intention of extending the tenure of Barbados Chief Justice SIR David Simmons, who turns 70 on April 28, 2010 and would need Thompson’s recommendation to continue. No, Sir… you can bet your house on the fact that David Simmons will not be Chief Justice of Barbados come the day after his birthday.”
In any event, Simmons will be going and with him the most visible evidence of the successful Barbados Labour Party campaign to exert political control and influence in our Supreme Court and throughout the justice system.
Sir David’s appointment as Chief Justice was an overtly political act – a perverted act that was all about consolidating power for the BLP cabal under then PM Owen Arthur.
When the lifelong politician who was Attorney General under two governments and acting Prime Minister on many occasions became Chief Justice virtually overnight, it all but eliminated the separation of powers between the government and the judicial system. But then again, that was the plan.
With over 25 continuous years as a professional politician and only the last 7 years as a judge, David Simmons as the Chief Justice was, and still is, a political event.
The courts in Barbados have always been a highly politicized but this reality moved to new heights during the BLP government when then-Prime Minister Owen Arthur appointed his long time political colleague and Attorney General as the Chief Justice of Barbados. The move effectively consolidated the power of the government and the courts under the control of Barbados political elites – and the image of both the courts and the Office of the Chief Justice have never recovered.
When David Anthony Cathcart Simmons agreed to accept the position from his old friend Owen Arthur, he brought the administration of justice in Barbados into disrepute.
It is the very presence of a career politician, former Attorney General and former Acting Prime Minister as Chief Justice that warns ordinary people that they haven’t a hope of seeing justice in Barbados.
Simmons didn’t care about the politicization of the court though: he reveled in it. He continued to attend political functions – even lending the credibility of the office of the Chief Justice to the Communist Chinese government that published articles bragging about Simmons’ attendance at embassy functions. We bet that SIR David Simmons never even considered whether or not it was ethical for the Chief Justice of Barbados to make a political statement of support for such a brutal government – but the Chinese news media were all over it telling their people that the highest judge in Barbados is a friend.
Simmons as Chief Justice continued to implement plans he made as Attorney General
Chief Justice Simmons even bragged in the newspapers that he was continuing the revamp of the Barbados courts that he started as Attorney General. The pathetic man just doesn’t get it! He can’t see, or doesn’t care, how unethical it was for him to accept the position of Chief Justice. He singlehandedly did more damage to the public perception of the Barbados judicial system than any other individual since our independence.
As Chief Justice, Simmons continued making political speeches and consolidating power for the BLP. Unbelievably he called for the Police and Military to be united as one force answering to government. Like we said, he just doesn’t get what separation of powers or democracy is all about.
One thing is certain: if the Thompson Government has any integrity at all, our new Barbados Chief Justice will be a totally apolitical person whose very presence does not taint the entire justice system with the stink of partisan politics… as did SIR David Simmons for the last seven years.
Further Reading at BFP
October 24, 2007 The Independence Of The Chief Justice Of Barbados
Here is the Nation News article in full in case it somehow disappears as frequently happens when the Barbados news media decides at some later date that it wants to change history. We encourage readers to follow the link to read the article at The Nation News.
Published on: 1/3/2010.
by TIM SLINGER
CHIEF JUSTICE SIR DAVID SIMMONS is calling it a day after seven years on the bench.
Sir David, who goes on pre-retirement leave in just over two weeks (January 20) informed Governor General Sir Clifford Husbands last week of his retirement which officially takes effect April 29, National Heroes Day, a day after he celebrates his 70th birthday.
“A new year is the ideal time for somebody new to come. I am getting old,” Sir David told the SUNDAY SUN in an exclusive interview yesterday.
The outgoing Chief Justice noted that in the final two days of last year he took time out to inform all his charges, including fellow judges and magistrates, about his retirement.
“After spending 32-and-a-half years in public life, I am just getting tired,” Sir David added, noting that his retirement was a welcomed family relief.
“I now have a chance to give some help to my daughter [attorney-at-law Lynne-Marie Simmons] who was waiting on me for 13 years.”
Sir David declined comment on the question of whether or not he had applied for a two-year extension, which under the Constitution permits the Chief Justice or a court of appeal judge to proceed to age 72. He however described his period in the judiciary as enjoyable.
“I’ve enjoyed it tremendously and I have been very happy doing the job on behalf of the people of Barbados,” he said.
Sir David, who served as Chief Justice from January 2002 and has the enviable record of never having been overruled by another court, said that during his tenure, he was able to “get a lot done”, including building of the new Supreme Court and upgrading a number of systems within the judiciary.
About his future, the Chief Justice said he would consider doing a number of things, including consultancy.
“Whatever comes along I would do within reason. I will be available to do things like arbitrations, special inquiries and probably mediations,” he said.
Sir David, who is married to former high court judge Madame Justice Marie MacCormack, served as Member of Parliament for 25 years and was Barbados’ attorney general from 1985 to 1986 and 1994 to 2001.
Meanwhile, legal sources have indicated that Court of Appeal judge Justice Sandra Mason is tipped to succeed Sir David.
Should that appointment be confirmed, she would become the first woman to head the judicial arm in Barbados.
It has also been reported among the legal fraternity that Professor Andrew Burgess, former Dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of the West Indies, is tipped to fill one of the Court of Appeal vacancies when Appeal Court judge Justice Waterman retires in May.