Tag Archives: Barbados Chief Justice

Barbados Chief Justice blasts profiteering, weasel lawyers

Chief Justice Marston Gibson recently sent an email to Andrew Pilgrim, president of the Barbados Bar Association. That email was also mysteriously and anonymously delivered to many Bajan blogs and every newspaper on the island. After reading this latest in the battle between the lawyers and the Chief Justice, all we can say to Mr. Gibson is… Give ‘em HELL, Sir!

“The system which we have, with its court delays, is what the attorneys know, with the ability to bill for every court appearance. Obviously, then, the longer a case exists, the more likely it is to generate fees for an attorney handling that case. The problem is that there is, equally likely, a dissatisfied client who wonders why the case is taking so long to resolve and who, again likely, will be told “it’s the court’s fault.” If what is reported in the Sunday Sun says or implies that, then I stand by it.”

“There will be no more distribution of files by a single senior legal assistant neither will there be any more situations, reported to me anecdotally, of lawyers choosing WHEN to file a matter depending on WHICH Judge is doing chamber court. Random selection by computer will be the order of the day.”

… Chief Justice Marston Gibson blasts profiteering Barbados lawyers and slaps them upside the head with some new procedures.

From: Office of the Chief Justice

To: Mr. Andrew O. G. Pilgrim
President, Barbados Bar Association

Leeton, Perry Gap
Roebuck Street
BRIDGETOWN

Subject: Our 14 March 2012 Conversation

Dear Mr. President,

I refer to our conversation last evening, 14 March 2012, in which you intimated to me that the Bar Council, or a majority of them, were “up in arms” over a report in the Sunday Sun of 11 March 2012 of my address to the Fair Trading Commission (FTC). You indicated to me that they had written a letter which was “ready to go” to the newspaper “to print.”

My practice is to pick up the Sunday Sun at a gas station on my way home from church. This past Sunday I did not do so and did not see the report until a friend pointed it out to me on Tuesday 13 March, at which point I noticed some inaccuracies. The one glaring example related to the Court of Appeal. In attempting to “set the context” in which the proposed Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) is to work, I stated that I had discovered 363 pending cases in the Court of Appeal, some filed long ago as 1993 and a few filed by attorneys who have since passed away. One of those attorneys, I pointed out, had been elevated to the same Court of Appeal, had died, but his pending matter was never heard. Other attorneys, I had noted to the audience, had been elevated to the High Court, had retired but their cases remain unresolved. Apart from a passing reference to attorneys who had passed away, there was not even a mention of the number “363″. I decided, however, to “let it be.” Continue reading

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Will Rotarians now expect different treatment in Barbados Courts?

Chief Justice accepts Rotary honours – cautioned he is now a Rotary Ambassador and obligated to Rotary’s ideals, principles

Where does judicial independence really begin and end? Where does the public perception of judicial independence begin and end? Where should the lines be drawn?

Many people will see no problem with our Chief Justice being an “honorary” member of the Rotary Club, and being feted by an organization that does so much good in the community.

“Honorary membership in Rotary is a privilege, which carries with it many obligations and we believe that you will recognise these and welcome them as opportunities for service,” said Rotary President Irving Burrowes as he addressed Gibson during “a glitzy affair at the Accra Beach Hotel.”

“The community will know and judge Rotary by your actions and ideals. You will become an ambassador for Rotary and you will carry these ideals and the principles of Rotary service to those who know you or with whom you are associated.”

… from the Barbados Advocate article Chief Justice becomes an honorary Rotarian

Others see Rotary a little differently than as just a community service club because the “by invitation only” membership of Rotary Clubs everywhere is naturally stacked with many business, financial and political elites. The Barbados Rotary Club was, of course, founded at Sandy Lane. I’ve never been invited to Sandy Lane… how about you?

After years of having David Simmons, a seasoned politician with a politician’s conflicts of interest, as their Chief Justice, Bajans welcomed Marston Gibson as someone who could restore the separation of powers. Never again did Bajans want to face a Chief Justice knowing that they might as well be standing before the Prime Minister or the political party in power.

That’s what happens when a long time politician like David Simmons is Attorney General and Deputy Prime Minister and part of the Senior Cabinet of the government in power – and then almost overnight becomes the highest judge in the country. Simmons was in charge of the court system where citizens sought justice against his own BLP government! People lose confidence in the courts when their opponents in court just had dinner with the judge.

And yet, there has to be a balance. Mr. Gibson is human. He is Bajan. He has friends and family and is himself part of the larger community. I suppose that if one of his friends or family appeared in court Mr. Gibson would have the integrity to excuse himself from judging or managing the case.

But what about Rotary members? Will Chief Justice Gibson now have to excuse himself from judging or administrating any case involving a fellow Rotarian? Continue reading

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American Marston Gibson announces he is new Barbados Chief Justice

“IF Marston Gibson is our new Chief Justice, his appointment will be as tainted as the appointment of David Simmons. The law was changed for one man: Marston Gibson. The law was proved to be worth nothing. It was a minor inconvenience standing in the way of a government that wanted to do what it wanted to do. So, the DLP government changed the law.

Tomorrow it will be some other law that stands in the way of what the government in power wants to do, and another law will be changed in the middle of the night with no public debate or societal discourse on why the law is the way it is in the first place.”

..from BFP’s July 8, 2011 article re-printed below

Inconvenient Barbados Law changed for one man

Breaking news: August 18, 2011 1:17am

American “court referee” Marston Gibson told the Associated Press last night that he has accepted the post of Chief Justice of Barbados. He’s 57 and plans to stay until he’s 70, according to what he told the American newspapers. (Apparently Mr. Gibson is not even a full Judge as we’ve been told in the Barbados papers? Readers check the Wall Street Journal story at the end and weigh in please!)

Mr. Gibson hasn’t practiced law in Barbados or any Commonwealth country in decades if ever. We really don’t know because the background released by the government has been very slim. We all thought he was a real judge… apparently that might not be the case?

But it doesn’t really matter because Mr. Gibson’s appointment makes a big statement about the law and rule of law in Barbados. You see, the government announced months and months ago that Mr. Gibson was the choice – then it was found that he didn’t meet the test in our laws about having experience working in our system. It was a little embarrassing for the government, so they did the usual thing… they changed the law. Now there’s no problem. See?

The law means nothing on this rock. It is a tool, a weapon for the elites. If it doesn’t fit, they change the law. God forbid they should adhere to any law that gets in their way!

Revirginated Attorney General David Simmons became Chief Justice

So here we are just like last time when former Attorney General and Acting Prime Minister David Simmons decided he would like to be Chief Justice even if it removed the safety fences between the politicians and the judiciary. Heck, Simmons thought it was okay that he became the highest judge in the land while cases were still before the courts suing him while he was Attorney General. Ha! Nothing like being in charge of the entire judiciary when your own case is up before a court! What shite!

So welcome to our new Chief Justice Gibson. Don’t worry Mr. Gibson… you’ll be “Sir Marston” soon because that’s the way things are done ’bout hey. (Can this guy still find his way ’round B’town? Does he know where the new court is? Does he know our laws and our system? Hey… no problem: he can take on the job training.)

Meanwhile, Chief Justice Gibson: if you ever have to rule on an industrial action here in Barbados don’t be talking to me about me breaking the law or not qualifying for some government job: just change the job specs to match my qualifications, okay?

Same old, same old ’bout this place!

Previous article first published July 8, 2011…

If Marston Gibson loves Barbados, he will refuse the job

If Prime Minister Stuart loves Barbados he will not offer the job to Gibson

A few days ago the Barbados Government news agency announced that a new Chief Justice will be appointed by the first week in August. (See end of this post for the press release) The same press release quoted Prime Minister Freundel Stuart as saying that he never mentioned that New Yorker Marston Gibson is in the running.

That statement by Stuart is accurate – because he was never quoted personally in the press about appointing Gibson as the next Chief Justice.

But Stuart’s statement also communicates a big lie – because back in March, Freundel Stuart himself voted to pass an amendment to the Supreme Court of Judicature Act that was aimed at no other end result than appointing Gibson.

If you don’t understand how a statement can be 100% accurate and still communicate a lie, well then you haven’t been around lawyers all that much. It cannot be argued that our Prime Minister is not a politician in every negative meaning of the word. Continue reading

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Let’s Hope Our Next Barbados Chief Justice Isn’t A Political Hack Like SIR David Simmons

“It’s no secret, however, that Prime Minister Thompson when he was the Leader of the Opposition had serious misgivings about Sir David’s appointment and it would be surprising if Sir David remained in office a minute after the April 28, 2010 (Simon’s 70th birthday)”

… Stephen Alleyne writing in the June 22, 2009 edition of the Barbados Advocate

Stephen Alleyne Doesn’t Know The Meaning Of “Judicial Independence” Or The Importance of the Appearance of Justice

In today’s Barbados Advocate, columnist, lawyer and ex-cop Stephen Alleyne states that SIR David Simmons has the “integrity and independence that’s a sine qua non of this high judicial office”.

Chief Justice Simmons - Career Politician Is No Independent Judge!

Chief Justice Simmons - Career Politician Is No Independent Judge!

What absolute rubbish from a person who should know better. If David Simmons had any integrity, if he was concerned about the independence of the judiciary, he would never have accepted the Office of Chief Justice of Barbados.

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.

Certainly when David Anthony Cathcart Simmons agreed to accept the position from his old friend Owen Arthur, the act 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. (See David Simmons’ bio here. Very impressive career politician!)

Chief Justice David Simmons On His Way Out – But Will Another Politician Replace Him?

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.

And so the process of easing the Chief Justice out of office with all honours begins in the local media with a column by Stephen Alleyne in today’s Barbados Advocate newspaper. “Sir David: A hard act to follow” is available in the dead-tree edition or online for 24 hours at the Barbados Advocate in “photo” form.

As usual in societies where the news media is tightly controlled, the Barbados Advocate does not publish even mildly controversial articles online in a “text” format that can be read and indexed by Google or other search engines. This protects the ruling elites from the inconvenience of having historical records easily accessible by the public.

Will Prime Minister Thompson reverse his position and appoint another "political friend" as our Chief Justice?

Will Prime Minister Thompson reverse his position and appoint another "political friend" as our Chief Justice?

For instance, there are no newspaper articles available online from the time when David Simmons was appointed as Chief Justice by his old friend then-Prime Minister Owen Arthur. At that time the DLP was up in arms that a politician and former Attorney General and Acting Prime Minister should be appointed to the highest court in the land.

It was argued by David Thompson that Simmons’ appointment politicized courts and brought the entire system into disrepute. Notwithstanding that the DLP itself had previously appointed two of its own former Attorneys General as judges in lower courts, David Thompson and others argued that the office of the Chief Justice should be protected from even a whiff of politics.

It will be interesting to see whether David Thompson as Prime Minister still believes as strongly that no politician should be appointed Chief Justice as he argued when in Opposition!

Barbados Advocate Article

We reprint the Barbados Advocate article referred to here under “fair use” provisions as we are criticising the Barbados Advocate and it is the practice of that newspaper to remove all historical records from public view after 24 hours. (Click to view full size)

David Simmons CJ Barbados

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Barbados Chief Justice Involved In Corporate Law Breaking – Documents Online!

“We were unable to find any financial statements for any of the Chief Justice’s companies. In particular, CGI Consumers’ Guarantee Insurance Company Limited may be required by law to file audited financial statements. I would have thought that since CGI was an insurance company, it would go to great lengths to comply with the law. I believe the public is due an explanation…”

… Keltruth Blog digs into the murky corporate records of Barbados Chief Justice Sir David Simmons

Sir David’s Corporate Records Not A Pretty Sight

The folks over at Keltruth blog have been at it again — rummaging through the property and corporate records that are available to them in Barbados. They don’t always find all of the records, and we have a feeling that some records disappear at exactly the time they walk in the door, and then magically reappear when they leave the government office.

But they always seem to find enough records to piece together the most curious of stories every few weeks, and this week is no exception.

Chief Justice Simmons - Career Politician Is No Independent Judge!

Chief Justice Simmons - Career Politician Is No Independent Judge!

As a lifelong professional politician, Sir David Simmons at times served as Deputy Prime Minister of Barbados, Attorney General and Cabinet Minister in the Owen Arthur government. In private law practice Sir David represented many clients in large land deals and was himself involved in land speculation and business deals through various companies in which he had a stake.

After making his fortune and mastering the Art of the deal, Sir David decided to leave the rough-and-tumble of politics for the stately dignity of the post of Chief Justice of Barbados.

As Barbados Free Press extensively covered in the past, David Simmons had to reinvent himself [at least publicly] before taking the position of Chief Justice. Much like a girl whom too many men know too well, Sir David had to be reborn as a new virgin in search of a husband — or in this case, a respectable job.

He attempted to do this by resigning from politics and the government for a few months before then Prime Minister Owen Arthur [his good friend and drinking buddy] anointed him as one of the most powerful men in Barbados. Once freed from the backroom deals of politics, Sir David’s dignified place in Barbados history was assured…  Or so it seemed…

The only fly in the ointment are all those legal documents floating around Barbados that Sir David signed before he became Sir David!

Well, Keltruth Blog has rounded up some of those documents and it’s not a pretty sight. Apparently the Chief Justice recently testified that he resigned from one of his corporations in 1994. The only trouble is that no record of his resignation appears until 2007 when he was about to be exposed. And then there are other of Mr. Simmons’ corporations where no financial statements were filed for years — contrary to the law.

Barbados deserved a Chief Justice who could be seen to be independent of politics and political favoritism, but the good of the country came second to raw ambition and the consolidation of power.

It was unethical for Prime Minister Owen Arthur to appoint his Attorney General as our Chief Justice. It was unethical for David Simmons to accept the office of Chief Justice, but he wanted it so badly for himself that he was willing to undermine the independence of our judicial system and our courts.

Sir David Simmons wanted to appear as Chief Justice like a Virgin bride on her wedding day, but the corporate documents found at Keltruth are like an old boyfriend at the back of the church yelling, “Hey Hot Stuff, remember that night when?”

Keltruth Blog Digs Into David Simmons’ Corporate Past

Chief Justice David Simmons and the insurance company

Was David Simmons’ resignation from GEM Travel in order?

Chief Justice Sir David Simmons on Ethics

David Simmons resignation from SBG dated 1994 — filed in 2007!

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