“They (Barbados Judges) live a pretty supreme life.”
A group of fifteen Barbadian students touring a Brooklyn, New York court to learn about the differences between the American and Bajan justice systems came away with a bit of culture shock.
You see, in the United States while there are daily failures to reach the lofty goals expressed in the American Declaration of Independence and Constitution – it is recognized in law and societal attitudes that every person, no matter high born or low born, has equal rights and status before the law. There are “ruling classes” in the USA, but to be judged by “a jury of one’s peers” is to be judged by other citizens no matter their income, class or education.
As we know, that’s not so in Barbados.
In Barbados, to find oneself standing before a court is to be judged not by your peers, but to be judged by a select member of the pampered elites. In the case of the last Chief Justice, that also meant to be judged by a former Acting Prime Minister and political backroom plotter.
That’s hardly justice being seen to be done, especially if you were a DLP member!
Class consciousness and status is ingrained into our Bajan psyches from the day we’re born. That was true hundreds of years ago under the British Empire and it’s true now. We’ve retained all the colonial attitudes and trappings except instead of having race-based elitism, we substitute class-based elitism.
In the United States, Judges are seen to be trusted servants of the people, who are still required to obey the laws themselves. Yes, they have status, but everyone knows they still put on their pants one leg at a time.
Contrast the US attitudes with the pomp and primping in our Bajan courts – where justice for the ordinary person is secondary to the primary goal of intimidating the lower classes and keeping them in their places. Ten and fifteen year trials are nothing in Barbados because it’s all about the court system’s pleasure and convenience and nothing to do with the poor sod who’s waiting for justice.
How does the Brooklyn USA judge view the lot of Barbados judges? Her reaction says everything…
But is was (US Judge) Dowling who was the shocked one, when the students told her how the judges in Barbados are treated.
They are addressed as “Milord” and “Milady,” they don’t pay taxes, they have personal chauffeurs and body guards, get lifelong salaries for pensions, and are even allowed to bypass traffic jams. “I’m going to Barbados! … Today!,” Dowling joked.
“They live a pretty supreme life,” a student summarized.
… from the Brooklyn Eagle story: From Barbados to Brooklyn – The Caribbean’s Future Lawyers Visit America for a Dose of ‘Mom, God and Apple Pie’