An article which appeared on the back page issue of this week’s issue of THE NEW TODAY newspaper provides more proof as to why Grenadians should tread with caution when it comes to the move afoot to make the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) the final appellate court in this jurisdiction.
The article provides a classic case of the manner in which government officials demonstrate their lack of respect for the independence of the Judiciary.
A Queen’s Counsel who is no ordinary lawyer before the court is attempting to get her Bailiff to execute a Summons on the highest government official in the country – the Prime Minister – and is getting the run-around from those in authority including of all persons the Attorney-General (AG) of this country.
The Grenada Constitution recognises the important roles played by the Prime Minister and the Attorney-General in exercising State power.
The AG is normally the second person to take the Oath of Office after the Prime Minister is sworn into office following the holding of general elections as he becomes the principal legal adviser to the new government.
As divine justice will have it, current Prime Minister, Dr. Mitchell is back in the “hot seat” to handle the “mess” created by the 1995-98 New National Party (NNP) government for breach of contract on the Dipcon Engineering matter.
The taxpayers of this country have been called upon once again to pay the road construction company close to $EC 20 million dollars in compensation after Works Minister, Gregory Bowen terminated a contract that Dipcon had signed with the former Congress government of Sir Nicholas Brathwaite.
Today the millions owed to Dipcon is part of the massive national
debt of EC$2.4 billion which the Mitchell government has been forced to default on since returning to office 18 months ago.
QC Clyne-Edwards must have been pushed to the limit to take the extraordinary step of trying to move the court to issue a committal to Richmond Hill prison of PM Mitchell over government’s failure to honour the financial obligations to Dipcon.
The PM should be one setting the example for others to follow by
showing respect and courtesy to the independence of the judiciary and not allowing those under him to play games with the court system.
Where does Cletus St. Paul, the former chief bodyguard to the slain marxist leader, Maurice Bishop and now Security Co-ordinator in the Botanical Gardens get the power from to inform a Bailiff that he cannot serve a court document on the Prime Minister and should serve it on someone else?
It is unfortunate that the country has to be made aware of the “hide and seek” game being played out by those in the Botanical Gardens to avoid a summons to appear in court.
If it was an ordinary member of the public who was ducking and hiding from a summons from the court, the law enforcement officials would have been out in full numbers and probably battalion gears too, looking for the culprit.
What is even more interesting is that the Bailiff who was trying to serve the court document on the Prime Minister is a former member of the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF) and one who had pledged to uphold the laws of the country.
It is not the first time that PM Mitchell has found himself in an uncomfortable position with a summons issued to him in court-related matters.
A few years ago, the Superintendent of Police and Head of the Special Branch, Anthony De Gale whose name has surfaced as a Commissioner of Police in waiting, prevented a Bailiff from serving a Summons on Dr. Mitchell at an open forum in Cherry Hill.
THE NEW TODAY is submitting that if our government leaders exhibit such hostility to the present court system what next might they do to a court if Grenada fully joins the CCJ, as that court lacks any real power to enforce judgments on them.
The examples abound of the low esteem in which some political leaders have transgressed against the Judiciary only to be forced to eat humble pie when the case reaches before the Privy Council in London.
Even some of the Judges and Magistrates have allowed themselves in the past to be “sucked in” by those wielding State power and often succumb to their dictates.
The current holder of the Office of Prime Minister has a history of being quick to take court action against his opponents but is often hiding and ducking when others take him to court to seek justice.
Official documents in the United States show that Dr. Mitchell had applied to the U.S State Department for Immunity from Prosecution when a legal action was taken against him by an American citizen by the name of Charles Howland.
There are reports circulating in the U.S that PM Mitchell applied a second time to an American court for immunity from prosecution in a court matter involving the former Superintendent of his apartment Block of Buildings in Brooklyn, New York.
The attitude of our government leaders to the present court system is forcing us to become scared of the CCJ.
The switch to the regional court will one day become a reality but the time is not right.
Our leaders will first have to demonstrate in a concrete and practical manner that they are prepared to accept and respect the Judiciary as an equal arm of the State like the Executive and the Legislature.