The recent passage in Parliament of legislation to pave the way for a referendum on Constitutional Reform has brought to the front burner once again the desire of the current rulers in Grenada to effect changes to the 1974 Grenada Constitution document.
The most fundamental of the changes proposed is to do away with appeals to the British Privy Council in London and to make the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) the final appellate court in our jurisdiction.
The proponents have been trying to sell the idea that moving away from the Privy Council to the CCJ will signal the final break from colonialism – a past that reminds so many of us of slavery and the slave trade in which thousands of Blacks were captured in Africa and brought into a new world to be humiliated.
Those who put forward the argument have conveniently left out a most vital piece – the changes now on the table do not remove Queen Elizabeth as the Head of State with her representative being the Governor-General who in most cases is a “little black boy”.
The changes as contemplates by those pushing for constitutional reform are very cosmetic and do not touch on those areas that are so badly needed for serious reform to guarantee the ordinary man in the street justice at all levels.
This newspaper has documents in its possession that point to persons holding high judicial offices in the country violating with impunity the very laws that they have taken an oath to uphold and to dispense justice with fairness and without malice and all those other nice-sounding phrases.
There is a current case before the high court in which one of the most influential lawyers in the country runs the risk of abusing his office in such a vulgar and violent manner that in other places like Trinidad & Tobago this individual runs the risk of seeing those who control the underworld of crime taking the law into their own hands where he is concerned.
But this is Grenada and our people are not violent and continue to remain in most cases law-abiding citizens.
The current case before the court should attract the attention of the Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell, Minister of Legal Affairs, Elvin Nimrod and even the Attorney-General, Cajeton Hood who is the principal legal adviser to the government.
A citizen of this country has found himself in trouble with the law in another jurisdiction and received a lengthy prison sentence for drug trafficking.
The incarcerated individual seems to be financially well-off and had given some lawyers in Grenada certain monies to hold for him as trustees of his property.
The man is now calling on one of the lawyers to surrender his money and to account for his funds over a period of time.
The court documents show that this lawyer handed over only a fraction of the money and is still holding onto the larger portion of the man’s money.
Can you imagine that the same lawyer who has the man’s money is now trying to move the court to seize the assets of the imprisoned man on allegations that the monies might have resulted from the proceeds of drug trafficking?
That lawyer is using his position to get the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) to seize all the assets of this Grenadian – even though the same lawyer is holding money for the individual.
THE NEW TODAY has a document from the law office of this lawyer in which a breakdown was given in a financial statement of how some of the funds given in trust were utilised.
The lawyer said in the statement that the office charged the client $40, 000.00 as a retainer for a particular court matter. These are fees charged by Queen’s Counsel and the lawyer is not one of them.
The lawyer then takes out $20, 000.00 from the man’s money to do two things – draft a power of attorney and secondly to draft a revocation of the power of attorney.
THE NEW TODAY checked with other well-established, reputable and respectable law firms that indicated to us that the normal fees to do up a power of attorney for a client is $1, 000.00 and it can go as high as $1500.00 depending on certain circumstances.
But here you have a lawyer who is holding a very important job in Grenada, “ripping off” a client and charging him $20, 000.00 for doing work on drafting and revocation of a power of attorney.
And if you decide to take the lawyer to court to seek justice, the ordinary man will be lucky to get his case files see the inside of a court house because of the cabal justice system that operates in this country at times.
Judges are very reluctant to look into fees charged by attorneys for their services. And the Grenada Bar Association is a waste of time when complaints are made by clients about the conduct of attorneys.
The Prime Minister and Minister of Legal Affairs ought to step in and ask this particular lawyer to excuse himself from the attempt by the State to seize the man’s property on the grounds that it came from the proceeds of crime given the history of the matter.
As one attorney wrote in documents filed in the case, “The equity principle here, is that the learned (lawyer) occupying the dual position of former Counsel to (the man) and Applicant in this action, be not allowed to obtain and hold the advantage of the Order (to seize the man’s property), which may well have been informed and indeed was likely informed, by knowledge gained as a former Counsel. It matters not whether this is actually so. The perception of it is equally important”.
Today the lawyer is holding one’s money in trust and tomorrow morning he is colluding with the State to seize even the money that he has not yet handed over to the client.
This is justice in Grenada.