Tag Archives: Barbados Justice System

Toothless Caribbean Court of Justice in chaos. Mounting embarrassment over unending incidents.

Justice Delayed Barbados

“Perhaps most damning is the account from the dismissed acting registrar of the Court, Jamaican Dr Leighton Jackson, who was escorted out of the Court’s Headquarters in May.” 

Ask anyone on the B’town streets and you’ll find that few Bajans realise that the vaunted Caribbean Court of Justice carries no actual power or authority even in Barbados – one of the few countries to sign on with the CCJ. Compliance with Caribbean Court of Justice decisions, you see, is still voluntary.

That’s not what has the CCJ in chaos though – it’s a series of recent incidents that some say threatens the court’s continuance.

News 7 in Belize put forth an excellent summary, but the news articles just keep coming including corrupt conduct by a Justice…

Check out the following:

Trinidad Express: CCJ faces internal battle

Stabroek News: CCJ judge gets $$ to hire driver

Stabroek News: CCJ problems sadden former Chief Justice

Jamaica Gleaner: Former CCJ Employee Says Jamaica should be cautious with Court

Administrative Disquiet at CCJ

from 7NewsBelize.com

The Caribbean Court of Justice is the highest Court in Belize, Barbados and Guyana but right now the court is under pressure at its headquarters in Trinidad. News reports from Port of Spain say that the court is facing internal legal battles resulting from a series of dismissals, resignations and suspensions of senior managers. The Court says it is restructuring after 10 years, but half of the 72 employees have joined a union to lodge grievances against the court – mainly about a change in the salary payment system.

On top of that, the court’s senior managers have hired an attorney who is preparing to file suit against the court according to the Trinidad Sunday Express.

Perhaps most damning is the account from the dismissed acting registrar of the Court, Jamaican Dr Leighton Jackson, who was escorted out of the Court’s Headquarters in May.  Continue reading

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Peter Boos: Barbados current economic state all about poor leadership, zero transparency and a painful business environment

Peter-Boos-Barbados

Financial guru Peter Boos lays it out short and not so sweet at Caribbean360.com.

Here’s a sample…

Why are we not doing better?

There are several structural key performance indicators on which we must all focus before the economy will grow sustainably:

  1. Demand competent leadership in all sectors. Leadership with integrity and a set of shared national values and goals that are inspirational for all and grounded in trustworthiness and competence.
  2. Create a business friendly environment that provides world class competitive business facilitation services. Doing business in Barbados today is painful.
  3. Implement and vastly improve transparency and accountability in Government. The 2012/13 Auditor General’s Report is essential reading and should be discussed publicly and acted on. Mismanagement of public funds is a serious disincentive to taxpayers to pay even more.
  4. Commence a debate on strategic National Governance Reform that eliminates patronage and corruption and engages the full skills base in Barbados on a non-partisan basis.
  5. Reform the Legal Justice System.

We continue to refer to ‘the global recession’ as an excuse for our depressed state. Most of our wounds are self-inflicted.

The solutions are totally within our control. Difficult decisions are needed. Leaders are needed.

Confidence will begin to be restored when we make serious credible efforts to address the five issues above.

… read the entire article at Caribbean360.com Stop blaming the global recession; Barbados’ wounds are self-inflicted

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Barbados lawsuit over rally death: 16 years before the courts

Justice Delayed Barbados

Here we are in the middle of an election campaign and we’ve just received a key performance indicator about the last two governments of Barbados: BLP and DLP: Sixteen years to complete a civil trial over an accidental death at a road rally.

Bajans are so used to outrageously low standards that we hardly know what should be ‘normal’ anymore. Sixteen years of hell before the courts and all we can think of is that we’ve seen cases take longer: twenty and twenty two years. So sixteen years isn’t so bad.

Is it?

Read the full story in The Nation here

Rally Club at Fault in Death

A WOMAN whose son was killed 16 years ago when a race car plunged into a crowd of spectators during a rally event has won a law suit against the Barbados Rally Club.

Althea Strickland sued driver of the car Darrin White and the Barbados Rally Club for the death of her son Rodney Strickland on June 16, 1997. Continue reading

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Our lawless beaches: Turtle poachers threaten violence against witnesses

Police absent as killers raid nests, butcher hawksbill turtles right on the beach!

“The field director noted the poachers were getting even bolder and more aggressive, to the point where they were threatening eyewitnesses against making reports to police. So afraid was one person that she only reported an incident to the project three days after the act and she could not be convinced to make a statement to police.”

… from The Nation article Turtles under attack

Editorial by BFP

The increasing reluctance of Bajans to report crimes or to testify in court is directly related to fears of retaliation. People also have an unwillingness to experience the well known abuses of the police and court system towards witnesses, but it is the witness fear factor that is the first barrier to our police when they arrive at a crime scene. There can be two hundred people in a field but nobody ever sees or hears anything – gunshots and screams included.

This lack of confidence in the ability of the police and the courts to protect witnesses from threats and harm is seriously undermining the quality of life in Barbados. There is a general realisation that the lawless elements are becoming bolder as they know too well that the police aren’t likely to come when called, and if the police do come, ordinary folks will say nothing because they are too frightened to become witnesses.

Although judges, lawyers and citizens have been vocal about this disturbing trend of threats and other intimidation tactics against witnesses, neither the government nor the police have done anything to address the problem. In the courts it is still a common occurrence for charges to be dropped with the thin explanation that “the victim no longer desires the charges to proceed”. The judges, lawyers and the DPP never make further serious enquiries as to why the victim has “changed their mind” as I once heard a lawyer tell the court.

Neither have our lawmakers in Parliament seen fit to change the laws to enable judges to force victims and witnesses to testify. This change, combined with prosecutors refusing to drop charges, has proven especially effective in reducing domestic violence in the U.K. and several American jurisdictions we’ve read about.

Epidemic of turtle killing – with no witnesses

This year the grisly turtle remains are turning up everywhere. The Nation reports that the number of known killings so far this nesting season is double that of all last year.

Darren Browne, field director of the Barbados Sea Turtle Project, says that folks are too frightened to call the police because the poachers are threatening witnesses. Mr. Browne invites witnesses to call the Sea Turtle hotline instead of the police and his organization will then call the police. This is supposed to keep the witnesses’ identities from the police, while alerting the authorities so that the police can attend at the scene and try to catch poachers in the act. Continue reading

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Police, court, DPP abuse of witnesses and victims – one man’s horrific experience

“We have, so far, over a period of four and a half years, attended the Magistrates Court for the preliminary trial a total of 21 times. It is impossible to offer a guess as to when this case will exit the Magistrates Court to the High Court, and how many more years it will spend there.”

by Trevor Kent

Kent Construction Ltd.

Charles Leacock, Barbados Director of Public Prosecutions

In The Nation on Friday May 25 was an article DPP: Stop hiding white collar crime, in which Director of Public Prosecutions, Charles Leacock, reportedly lamented the low level of reporting by business of what is known as “white collar crime”. His take on this situation was that businesses, especially, it seems, commercial banks, have been afraid of bad publicity and thus prefer to cover up malfeasance within their operations. He urges that this practice must stop, saying, as reported in the newspaper, that “the low level of prosecutions and investigations [is] symptomatic of the fact that there is also a low level of reporting”.

I have to admit to being surprised by these reported comments, based on my Company’s experiences with reporting substantial white collar thefts by on of our employees, carried out systematically over almost seven years. After assisting with a very long, drawn out Police Fraud Squad investigation, we were informed by letter that the DPP had directed that only a fraction of the thefts for which we provide hard evidence should  be investigated, to save police time. How does that square with the stated fact of “a low level of investigations”?

Then, we have, so far, over a period of four and a half years, attended the Magistrates Court for the preliminary trial a total of 21 times. It is impossible to offer a guess as to when this case will exit the Magistrates Court to the High Court, and how many more years it will spend there.

I would thus submit that the reason companies elect not to report similar crimes is that they do not with to face the frustration of dealing with the slow Police investigation requiring numerous hand-written statements etc. followed by hundreds of hours of wasted employee time, sitting at a Magistrate’s court that often starts up to one and a half hours late, and then accomplishes very little before adjourning for the day.

The whole process then has to be repeated at the High Court, in front of Judge and Jury.

By the time a matter has gone through the Magistrates Court, and the High Court, many years will have elapsed, witnesses may have retired or died, and companies have lost many thousands of dollars in employee time, in addition to the original loss. Even if the accused is convicted, sentences are often little more than a slap on the wrist, as pleas of “first time offender” (although there may be numerous episodes relating to the same trial) are accepted by the courts. Companies thus decide, as in one case I am aware of where the owners simply sold the company and relocated overseas, to swallow the loss, leaving the perpetrator to continue stealing at another company, as often happens.

The legal trial system in Barbados is seriously time-flawed, if not broken, and in fact some of the laws are flawed also. In our case, the bank, after cashing over 300 “third-party” company cheques during the stated period, without once questioning the legitimacy of these transactions, either with the presenter or with the Company itself, was able to hide behind the Banking Act that apparently does not require ID and authorization from the payee to whom the cheque was signed in good faith by a Company director. Amazing really, when one considers that the local Post Office requires such confirmation before delivering mail to a person claiming to represent someone else. The bank has refused to engage with us at any level (despite firm written promises at the highest level) and our expert legal advice is that, whilst we are not without precedent in seeking redress through the courts, the process could well take six or seven years, and even longer on appeal… not to mention hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees. Continue reading

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Court witness held at gunpoint, tied up, beaten at home. Serious head injuries.

Some lawsuits just aren’t worth it in Barbados

“Kiss yuh rasshole bitch. We will kill you while you are asleep. Lock your doors and windows real good.”

“Marjorie Knox… If we evah fine she anyway bout Barbados we gine bus open she fucking head wid a big rock.”

Some of the anonymous internet threats to murder witnesses in the Kingsland Plantation court case as revealed at Keltruth Blog

“For seven long months in 2007/2008 the official WordPress blog of the Barbados Labour Party linked to the BFPE blog (Barbados Free Press Exposed) that published threats against many people, including threats to murder Adrian Loveridge, to burn down his business, and to rape his wife.”

… from the BFP story Barbados Labour Party Blog Removes Link To Website Threatening Murder Of Adrian Loveridge

Readers of Barbados Free Press are well familiar with the story of the long-running court battles over the Kingsland Plantation Estate, and the many years of threats and violent incidents against Marjorie Knox, her family members and witnesses testifying for Mrs. Knox. Even persons who (to our knowledge) have nothing to do with the court case but were mis-reported as being involved were subject to threats and violence – as happened to Adrian Loveridge and his wife.

Member of Parliament Dr. Duguid even confirmed that some of the violent anonymous internet threats against the Knox family originated on a computer at the Barbados Parliament Members’ Lounge. Something to think about, for sure.

These threats and acts of violence at pretty well standard operating procedure for some in Barbados. Wunna be careful if suing certain cartels… because you are likely to find your house set on fire like this or this.

Even high court Justice Randall Worrell (above) is worried about a trend that is undermining our court system and threatening the very fabric of our society: witnesses don’t want to testify to the point that they are changing their stories or running off the island. Court witnesses in Barbados are very afraid.

When the police cannot or will not protect witnesses, can we expect anything else?

Now we read on Keltruth Blog that Kingsland witnesses were recently held at gunpoint and beaten in what looks like a continuation of the threats and violence against Marjorie Knox and her family, who are engaged in an ongoing court battle against powerful Barbados cartels.

Welcome to Barbados folks: a paradise for tourism, business investments and offshore banking…

… until it goes wrong and you launch a lawsuit to find justice. Then they burn your house, beat you within an inch of your life, fire you from your job, urge strangers to stalk you and threaten to rape your wife while your court case takes 20 years to get to trial.

That’s right. Twenty years for a court case to reach trial in Barbados.

Meanwhile, you had better watch your back…

It was Thursday, April 19th, another peaceful day in the country. Around one thirty in the afternoon, John K. casually drove into the front yard of Old Hanson House in the parish of St. George, Barbados. He stuck his key into the lock of the front door, totally unaware that he was being watched. Continue reading

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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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