Reader: Chief Justice Gibson’s self-announcement “highly inappropriate”

Dear Barbados Free Press,

Barbados and the rest of the world first heard from Mr. Marston Gibson himself that he had been chosen as our new Chief Justice. I first read about the confirmation on Barbados Free Press half a day before the “official” announcement. The story that a New York reporter called Mr. Gibson to confirm a rumour is no excuse. (If indeed the call was not the other way around! Who knows?)

“There is a proper way of doing things and Mr. Gibson should not have been the first one in the press to publicly confirm his appointment.”

This announcement by Mr. Gibson was highly inappropriate and echos some of the concerns earlier put forward by former Attorney General Dale Marshall.

Mr. Marshall was quoted on May 1, 2011 in the Nation and CBC saying,

“Gibson has spoken quite liberally to the Press and, of course, he is entitled to do that as an individual citizen, but there is something called judicial temperament that means a lot in our neck of the woods,”

“In the US judges and court officers speak freely to the Press; it is part of their culture. It is not part of ours. But Mr Gibson appears to be operating in the North American mode, and one wonders if the Government is not feeling a little discomfort at that.”

…former Attorney General Dale Marshall talks about Marston Gibson

I am not writing this letter to ‘pile on’ to our newly appointed Chief Justice, Mr. Marston Gibson. I am writing because I too have concerns that his style of talking in the news media might not be a good fit with what we expect from our Judges in Barbados. I hope that Chief Justice Gibson changes his standards in this area to reflect a less American approach.

I was no fan of David Simmons when he was Chief Justice, but I cannot remember when I was ever concerned about him giving a press interview for all the time he was Chief Justice. He maintained the dignity of the position when he talked with the press and no one can take that from Sir David.

There is also a concern, again vocalized by Dale Marshall, that Mr. Gibson is not only out of touch with Bajan culture after almost three decades away from home, he also has some learning to do about Bajan law and our justice system. This is from the same May 1, 2009 statements by Mr. Marshall…

Marshall also said that while Gibson declared his intention to get rid of the assizes system, the former chief justice had already done that years ago.

“In his pronouncement, he [Gibson] has demonstrated a clear ignorance on the system that he says he wants to come and administer,” he charged.“

It may well be that Government is backing away from the appointment, given Mr Gibson’s propensity to speak to the Press and also given the fact that he has demonstrated a significant ignorance of matters of our court system which really cannot be endearing him to the political or the judicial leaders at this point in time.”

Mr. Gibson is our new Chief Justice and I will give him the respect due of the office, but if this latest little publicity stunt of self-announcement by Mr. Gibson is to be the new standard for the conduct of our Chief Justice, he will start to distance himself from the very justice system he seeks to administer.

Yours truly,

Name withheld upon request.


Filed under Barbados, Crime & Law, Ethics

3 responses to “Reader: Chief Justice Gibson’s self-announcement “highly inappropriate”

  1. Give him a chance!

    Mr. Gibson’s announcement was very inappropriate. (He is not sworn in so he is still “Mister”.)

    His American behaviour is to be expected after living, working and practicing law according to American standards. On the good side he is as far removed from the last 20 years of island politics as it is possible to be. He should work to rediscover his bajan-ness and lose his American cultural behaviours like judges talking with the reporters.

  2. Anon007

    Why did the government wait for almost a year to appoint the new Chief Justice if they intended all along to appoint Prime Minister Thompson’s old friend? Strange.

  3. Pieter Pieper

    The present government has promised transparency,accountability and integrity.Legislation in this regard remains a pipe dream.Mr.Gibson,in being available and open to the press,is perhaps demonstrating that he intends to be independent,transparent,accountable and to hold to a higher standard of integrity than most of his predecessors.Why should he not speak to the press?That he is prepared to do so perhaps signals that he intends to carry out his duties “without fear or favour”.We can only hope !