“Problem” Judge David Myers now Barbados lawyer

Trinidad still cleaning up the mess, but was it all David Myers’ fault?

Lawsuit launched over 10 year wait for justice

Lawyers typically waited years for Judge Myers’ decisions

For a moment we thought we were in Barbados when we read the Trinidad and Tobago Newsday article Judge in Barbados.

We’ve covered many stories of the pathetic state of our Barbados courts where land disputes can take twenty years to work their way through court. (Yes, we said TWENTY YEARS.)

Not to despair though, because Barbados Judges can push a child rape case through the courts in as little as seven or ten years. (Yes, we said TEN YEARS for a child rape case to reach trial.)

Was Judge Myers a failure, a victim of an unreasonable workload… or both? .

When one of our typically acidic BFP writers sent us this story, they included the phrase “So it’s wonderful to know that “resigned” T&T High Court Judge David Myers is now assisting the courts and clients in Barbados…”

That’s a slap in the face comment, but not unlike something we’d publish if we felt it was deserved. Really folks, we’re the people who published a photo of Chief Justice David Simmons in a dress a la Madonna’s “Like a Virgin” CD cover. It’s not like we don’t say it like we see it.

But then I started reading some of the old news stories about Judge David Myers and I wondered if he might be more of a victim than the bad guy. When he saw the workload was getting behind, he requested time to deal with his backlog but he wasn’t given it. Not enough judges, you see.

Then when the situation became worse, he was told to take no more cases until the backlog was cleared – but they couldn’t find another judge to do a sitting in Tobago so he was assigned to do those new cases and that was the last straw.

To his credit, David Myers admitted his failures and said it was his fault without throwing some of the rocks that he was probably entitled to throw no matter his own faults.

“Finally, while I have always been a fierce defender of judicial independence, I have never taken the view that I, or any other judge, was a sacred cow. It was and is clear to me that through personal management failures, to adopt the cliche, I bit off far more than I could chew. That is my failure, for which I am ultimately responsible, whatever the difficulties inherent in the lot of a Trinidad and Tobago trial judge.

It is I who must do what I can to make things right by departing early, but after I have completed my commitments.

Yours faithfully
David A Myers
Judge”

Could it be that no matter his own mistakes, Judge Myers was placed in a classic “no-win” situation with an outrageous workload, little clerical staff to assist, in a chronically underfunded and understaffed Justice system?

When you read all the articles about Judge Myers – not just the current lawsuit – you might be as inclined as I am to give him the benefit of the doubt. Do a Google search, spend some time and you’ll see what I mean.

The latest news media stories report him working in Barbados as a lawyer. If his law clients in Barbados have no problems with his current performance and service, that might be an indication that whatever happened with Judge Myers in the Trinidad and Tobago Justice System wasn’t all one-sided.

Further Reading

Trinidad Guardian: Judge Myers resigns

16 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Crime & Law, Trinidad and Tobago

16 responses to ““Problem” Judge David Myers now Barbados lawyer

  1. SH

    Check your facts, BFP, Mr. Myers is NOT in Barbados.

  2. BFP

    Hi SH,

    We’re reporting what was printed in yesterday’s newspaper, but if you have some current information we’d love to hear it. That’s what makes blogging so different from the mainstream media.

    What can you tell us about Mr. Myers’ location now and his time in Barbados? You sound like you know!

    Thanks.

    Marcus

  3. path of judicial independence pipe dream

    Does anyone know what Barbados spent on that Caribbean Court of Justice ( Trinidad ) for infrastructure costs that could have gone to much needed operations?

  4. John

    Guess this is off thread but here is a thought about the CCJ.

    Sometimes I wonder why the CCJ was not setup as a travelling Court.

    Certainly in Barbados we now have an expansive building with elaborate court rooms that would accommodate such a Court.

    Judges from outside the island can come and work in comfort with plenty facilities available.

    If these Judges are the best from the region and outside and they perform true to form, a visit from them to an island can only uplift.

    If in adition, the Court is an open court I think I would attend once in a while to watch the performance of the judges and learn more from the positions they took and the questions they asked of the attorneys on either side of a case.

    I think attorneys who never get to the highest court of appeal can only benefit from the demystification of watching it work close up and aspire to the higher heights it projects.

    Let the Judges come to the islands to hear the cases in much the same way as the judges in the wild west used to travel to dispense justice.

    Maybe acceptance of the CCJ might become more widespread and an element of belonging creep in.

    I cannot name one judge of this court and I bet not many can.

    I can think of one or two cases that got some coverage here in the press but feel about as separated from it as I feel from its headquarters in Trinidad.

    Sometimes I wonder if that is the totality of the cases.

    There is probably a website somewhere I can go to have a look see, but it is not the same as knowing the Court is in town and is keeping an eye the local Court and its officers.

    Besides uplifting, a travelling Court may also be cheaper, get better press coverage and perhaps, even safer.

    Just a thought.

  5. John

    … it is kind of like the Privy Council, aloof and separate, when it can by travelling be seen as a moving force in uplifting standards of local Courts …. and they do need upliftment given the stories I read and hear.

  6. bajan kidd

    thats a good thought, however, unlikely to happen though. Not with these crooked dispensers of so called justice, feeding off the system like a tropical ‘bont’ tick. Our justice system is in shambles, and has been for a while. You know why it hasn’t changed, because it works for people like lawyers, judges, magistrates, and whoever else. Stupse, just another reason that Bajans have to be frustrated about.

  7. SM

    The Newsday article stated that he was “said to be practising in Barbados”, not that he in fact is which should have prompted BFP to inquire as to whether or not this could be verified and not fire off an article on the basis that he is in Barbados.

  8. pipe dream

    Some good ideas John.

    An independent CCJ does not refer to bricks and mortar but rather how we choose judges in the Caribbean based on political factors rather than impartiality and and their sense of fairness and justice.

    They usually arrive at our doors through years of political manoeuvring and political favors. All notions of The Rule of Law and moral and ethical outrage for unacceptable behavior has long since been filtered out by those with money and/or influence.

    There are rules in many jurisdictions of acceptable lists of future judges based on such things as competence, efficiency, fairness and age. Politicians must only choose potential judges from these lists appoved by a properly run law profession. This is another check and balance against abusive governments. Where would Barbados start with many apples rotten at the top of the law profession?

  9. John

    The website of the CCJ indicates there are two Judges from Guyana, two from Trinidad, one from St. Vincent, one from the UK and one from Holland.

    Decisions are posted as well.

    http://www.caribbeancourtofjustice.org/judgments.html

    2005 1 case
    2006 4 cases
    2007 4 cases
    2008 13 cases
    2009 19 cases
    2010 4 cases

    It averages less than one case per month since its inception, with a high of just under 2 cases per month.

  10. John

    Of the 45 cases, 14 seem to have come from Barbados.

    Here are two interesting paragraphs from one of these 14 judgments.

    [19] Before addressing the above points, it is unfortunate that we cannot overlook that Waterman J took three years to deliver his judgment, while the Court of Appeal took almost four and a half years, despite section 18(8) of the Constitution conferring upon litigants the right for their case to “be given a fair hearing within a reasonable time”, which necessarily requires that the judgment in the case be given within a reasonable time. As de la Bastide P stated in the first appeal3 we heard from Barbados (where there had been a delay of four years ten months in the Court of Appeal giving its reserved judgment), such delays “deny parties the access to justice to which they are entitled and undermine confidence in the administration of justice.”

    [20] Subsequently in Reid v Reid (where there had been a similar delay of four years ten months) Saunders J, on behalf of the CCJ stated, “In our view, no judgment should be outstanding for more than six months and, unless a case is one of unusual difficulty or complexity, judgment should normally be delivered within three months.” Such efficient justice is needed not just for the furtherance of the best interests of employers and employees but also for the proper protection and encouragement of investors and entrepreneurs whose activities are crucial to the welfare of Barbados and its people. Happily, the Chief Justice has taken steps to
    improve efficiency in the timely delivery of judgments.

  11. BFP

    John, “Happily, the Chief Justice has taken steps to improve efficiency in the timely delivery of judgments.”

    Are those your words or the CCJ’s? Also, what date were the words said if they were said by the CCJ?

    Because I have doubts about the stamp of approval for court performance in Barbados!

  12. John

    The judgement was in the “Appeal from the Court of Appeal of Barbados CCJ Appeal No. CV 2 of 2008 between Winton Campbell APPLICANT and The Attorney General RESPONDENT
    [2009] CCJ 1 (AJ)”

    http://www.caribbeancourtofjustice.org/judgments/CV2_2008/cv2_2008.pdf

  13. John

    It looks like the court proceedings lasted 17 years with seven spent waiting for decisions.

    https://barbadosfreepress.wordpress.com/2009/05/04/time-to-obtain-justice-in-barbados-courts-17-years-or-never/

  14. John

    This seems to have been the third instance when the CCJ spoke to the delays in the Barbadian Court.

    The second was in regard to the “Appeal from the Court of Appeal of Barbados CCJ Appeal No. CV 9 of 2007 between Yolande Reid APPLICANT and Jerome Reid RESPONDENTS.
    [2006] CCJ 4 (AJ).”

    http://www.caribbeancourtofjustice.org/judgments/cv9_2007/cv9_2007.pdf

    In this case the Court said:

    “[22] Before addressing the arguments of counsel made to us, it would be remiss of this Court not to advert to the length of time taken by the Court of Appeal to deliver its judgment in this case. This was an astonishing period of almost five years. In the first appeal we heard from Barbados, Mirchandani (No. 1)1, de la Bastide, P. expressed this Court’s strong disapproval of judicial delays. Such delays, the President stated, “deny parties the access to justice to which they are entitled and undermine public confidence in the administration of justice”. The effectiveness of a judiciary is seriously compromised if it fails to monitor itself in respect of the time taken to deliver judgments and to arrest promptly any tendency to lapse in
    this aspect of its performance. This is the second time we have had occasion to call attention to inordinate delay in the delivery of judgments in Barbados. We trust that effective remedial action, if not already taken, will now be taken to ensure that judgments are delivered within a reasonable time as required by the Constitution of Barbados2. What is a reasonable time? In our view, as a general rule no judgment should be outstanding for more than six months and unless a case is one of unusual difficulty or complexity, judgment should normally be delivered within three months at most.”

  15. John

    The first time the Court referred to the delays in the Barbados Court system was in the very first case it heard, “Application for Special Leave to Appeal from The Court of Appeal of Barbados CCJ Application No. AL 1 of 2005 BB Civil Appeal No. 18 of 2000 between Barbados Rediffusion Service Limited APPLICANT And Asha Mirchandani Ram Mirchandani McDonald Farms LTD. RESPONDENTS ”

    http://www.caribbeancourtofjustice.org/judgments/Mirchandani%20judgment.pdf

    45. We are very conscious of the enormous delay which has occurred in this case and about which both sides have complained. The parties themselves have contributed to some extent to the delay. The respondents and the applicant took over 12 and 14 months respectively to file lists of documents which they had been ordered to file within 42 days. After the applicant had filed its list of documents, it took the respondents 11 months to apply for a further and better list. But these delays are dwarfed by the delays of Husbands J. and the Court of Appeal in giving their respective judgments. The periods for which these judgments remained undelivered total more than seven years. We would be failing in our duty if we did not express our strong disapproval of judicial delays of that order. They deny parties the access to justice to which they are entitled and undermine public confidence in the administration of justice. We would like to think that such delays are now a thing of the past in Barbados. We realize that the effect of our decision may be to postpone, either minimally or substantially, depending on the outcome of the appeal, the final resolution of this matter. It would be unfair, however, to the applicant to deny it the special leave to which it is otherwise entitled, because of delay in the proceedings for which it is not for the most part responsible. It is to be hoped that the history of delay in this case will serve to accelerate the pace at which the matter proceeds from now on. We will certainly do whatever we can to ensure that.

  16. John

    The three instances where the CCJ spoke to the delay in the Barbadian Courts were first on 26 Oct 2005, second on 24 NOV 2008 and third on 03 APR 2009 .