Queen’s Counsel apologizes to High Court Justice, but…

Justice Delayed Barbados

The unnamed lawyer in our original story has been named as Alair Shepherd, Queen’s Counsel. Mr. Shepherd has apologized to High Court Justice Dr Sonia Richards, but the full story in the Nation tells the all-too-familiar tale of a broken court system where the focus is on process, not on results or justice.

Mr. Shepherd should not have done what he did, but in a court system where civil cases often take 15 or 20 years to reach trial we can expect to see the rivets starting to pop as the pressure builds on the boiler call the Barbados Courts. (By the way, why is Chief Justice Gibson in South Africa? Shouldn’t he be staying at home and trying to clean up this mess?)

Here’s the article from the Nation. Please read it at their website here, but unfortunately we have to print it all here because if we don’t, they will change the story as it suits the changing politics.


Queen’s Counsel Alair Shepherd – the man at the centre of the outburst involving High Court Justice Dr Sonia Richards last week – has confirmed that he apologized to her, but said the incident was a result of his frustration over the administration of justice.

In an interview with the DAILY NATION yesterday, Shepherd said his behaviour before the judge should not detract from the real issue, which was the continuing delay of an extremely important case touching on the ability of the Royal Barbados Police Force (RBPF) to discharge its duties.

Last Monday, Shepherd had an outburst before the judge. He then backed Justice Richards, raised his robe and bent over.

The incident, which sent shock waves through the legal fraternity, occurred in the corridor outside the judge’s chambers where she had convened a meeting with attorneys at law involved in the case concerning 13 police officers who are challenging last year’s promotions by the Police Service Commission.

“Unfortunately, what happened before Her Ladyship has diverted from the seriousness of what is happening in this case,” Shepherd said. “It is a shame that the Press has focused on my conduct as opposed to what is happening in the case. I don’t understand the public interest in it.”

The case first went to court as an urgent matter in August last year and was heard by Justice Randall Worrell on two occasions before it was assigned to Justice Elneth Kentish. She granted an injunction halting the promotions pending the outcome of the case.

During the hearing, Shepherd, who is representing one of the litigants, raised a constitutional point which was supposed to be heard before Justice Kentish on Monday. In fact, the case was listed before her, but on that day, she informed the attorneys that the case was now to be heard by Justice Richards. However, Justice Richards recused herself from the case.

“I don’t want to comment on my behaviour other than to say what has been reported in the Press in some respects does not tell the whole story in relation to the background information,” Shepherd said yesterday, pointing out that the case had now been adjourned without a date set or judge assigned.

“What is to happen to me in relation to this should not have an impact on the progress on the case.”

Shepherd maintained that the case, involving as it did the promotion of officers in the RBPF, impacted on the ability of the force to discharge its duties and ought to have been heard as opposed to being shuffled from judge to judge without timely notice to counsel.

He also lashed out at the Bar Association saying it had failed to be outraged by the fact that the delay in decisions was breaching litigants’ constitutional rights.

“The judiciary is there to protect the constitutional rights of citizens of Barbados.”

The Queen’s Counsel, who is well known for fighting death penalty cases, also referred to the Caribbean Court of Justice’s remarks last year concerning the delay of cases in Barbados.

“The CCJ commented on those delays when it said those delays were surprising in light of the fact that Barbados’ Constitution guarantees trial within a reasonable time. There must be a concerted, urgent effort to deal with this.

“I tendered my apology and, in that regard, that should be the end of the matter. However, if they choose to pursue it in any way, I will defend my position

in light of the manner in which cases are progressing through the system and I would ask any tribunal to take into account the massive delays and the breaches of litigants’ constitutional rights. Those things have to be taken into account in everything that I did.”

When contacted yesterday, Justice Richards said: “I will not be making a comment at all.”

Asked why she had recused herself from the case, she said: “I would suggest that you speak to the Chief Justice.”

However, Chief Justice Marston Gibson left the island last week for South Africa and will not be returning until next week.

Some attorneys have called for Shepherd to be stripped of his silk, while others said while they do not agree with his behaviour, they understood the frustration with the judicial system and were willing to support him in that regard.


Filed under Barbados, Crime & Law, Ethics

9 responses to “Queen’s Counsel apologizes to High Court Justice, but…

  1. I just read Alair Shepherd’s 1/2 apology. It was not sincere simply because he attempted to justify his action. He should have said that his behaviour was inexcusable and I offer my most sincere apology. Instead, he offered up some crap about the case being extremely important touching on the ability of the RBPF to discharge its duty. The administration of the force is not his business: he was there to represent the interest of his client. Those charged with the responsibility of administering the force seem not to be too concerned with its administration: they are hellbent on removing the Commissioner.

    The police force is not being administered properly and that is enough justification for him to invite a judge to kiss his backside. He surely needs his head examining. Maybe, I just hit on the real reason for his conduct. That is the only reason that would adequately explain his behaviour. I understand that Dr. Ermine Belle specialises in treating this type of behaviour. He should make an appointment before its too late.

  2. The wheels of justice do not turn!

    Alair Shepherd is one of the Caribbean’s most competent counsel who has been reduced to having to moon a judge that has just ignored dealing, once again, with a court matter. This happens to be a way of life in the court system in Barbados because politics and legal matters are one and the same.

    The judiciary consists of political appointees who are neither competent nor diligent.but still collect their checks for not showing up and refusing to act expeditiously.in the best interest of its citizens.

    Its hard to believe that the third largest country for Foreign Direct Investment by Canada to the tune of $5 billions Dollars a month is through this so called democracy.

    Where is the accountability?

  3. yatinkiteasy

    Aliar should get a medal…He is the only one that seems to have any balls in the legal fraternity, who for the most part, overcharge clients, tolerate inexcusable delays, sometimes steal (or borrow) client`s money, who do not answer e mails or phone calls, and who disrespect the very clients that provide them with their undeserved incomes.

  4. Pieter Pieper

    @ yatinkiteasy
    The system,as it stands ,would cause the dead to turn over in their graves and show their posteriors too!Truth be told, I think you may get results from the dead in Westbury Cemetery sooner than from some members of the legal fraternity (except when it comes to overcharging their clients for their shoddy work…always long drawn out in order to justify their outrageous charges… knowing full well that clients have no recourse and it is pointless to oppose them). I doubt you will find anyone else in the legal fraternity with the cojones to express his/her disgust and frustration with the current system so openly.The majority seem to be sworn to uphold the status quo.Hopefully Mr.Shepherd’s actions will bring about the much needed change for the better but I doubt it !

  5. 45govt

    Clearly these “justices” have no concept of justice. The game of playing pass the parcel and avoiding carrying out their duties is a national scandal. Barbados has a COP who doesn’t fulfil his duties, and a bunch of useless overpaid judges, who despite being housed at taxpayer expense in grandiose new buildings, betray their village mentality at every turn.

    Perhaps it is time to sack the lot and pay for visiting circuit judges from a first world country, who would have no interest in, or pressure from petty local politics.

    Poor Barbados.

  6. Red Sun

    The Judicial system in Barbados is a bloody disaster. Remember two types of people go to court, fools and lawyers. The difficulty a lot of the times is knowing the fool from the lawyers.

    It’s a grand scam designed to extract money from fools who are foolish enough to believe that justice or a solution will be found in the courts.

  7. Bajan Abroad

    HAHAHAHA! Aliar has a brilliant mind and is one of the maddest, most eccentric people I know. A fine line between brilliance and madness!

  8. webee

    An Engineer in Hell

    An engineer dies and reports to the Pearly Gates.

    Saint Peter checks his dossier and, not seeing his name there, accidentally
    sends him to Hell.

    It doesn’t take long before the engineer becomes rather dissatisfied with
    the level of comfort in Hell.

    He soon begins to design and build improvements.

    Shortly thereafter, Hell has air conditioning, flush toilets and escalators.
    Needless to say, the engineer is a pretty popular guy.
    One day, God calls Satan and says with a sneer: “So, how are things in

    Satan replies: “Hey, things are going great. We’ve got air conditioning,
    flush toilets, and escalators. And there’s no telling what this engineer is
    going to come up with next.”

    “What!” God exclaims: “You’ve got an engineer? That’s a mistake, he should
    never have been sent to Hell. Send him to me.”

    “Not a chance,” Satan replies: “I like having an engineer on the staff, and
    I’m keeping him!”

    God insists: “Send him back, or I’ll sue!”

    Satan laughs uproariously and answers: “Yeah, right. And where are you
    going to get a lawyer?”

  9. The Oracle

    I’d like to crap in the Judges pockets.