The legacy of a legal legend, Karl Terrence Hudson-Phillip, QC, was refreshed as members of the legal profession in Grenada gathered last week to celebrate his life.
Members of the Grenada Bar Association assembled at the No.1 High Court last week Wednesday to participate in a Special Sitting of the Court in memory of the 80-year-old Queen’s Counsel who died in his sleep on January 15, in London.
Director of Public Prosecutions, Christopher Nelson recalled personal encounters with the “feared” legal luminary, a man he said refused to accept nonsense as he touched on the role played by Hudson-Phillip as lead Prosecutor against the 19 persons charged with the murder of former Prime Minister Maurice Bishop and members of the People’s Revolutionary Government in 1983 in Grenada.
Nelson spoke of the impact Hudson-Phillip had on people throughout the world and the immortalising of him by veteran calypsonians, Slinger “Mighty Sparrow” Francisco with “Ah Like It So” and Dr Hollis “Chalkdust” Liverpool, “Ah Fraid Karl.”
He recalled Hudson-Phillip being demonised in the twin island republic for drafting the Public Order Act, which was proposed by the People’s National Movement government in 1973 to deal with the Black Power uprisings in the neighbouring country.
Hudson-Phillip, a former Attorney General of Trinidad and Tobago, was appointed lead counsel for the prosecution in the trial of the radical members of the Jamaat al Muslimeen group headed by Abu Bakr.
According to DPP Nelson, Hudson-Phillip’s involvement in T&T politics brought a new dimension into the arena despite the defeat at the polls in 1981 of his Organisation of National Reconstruction (ONR).
Describing him as a “tower of strength”, Nelson believes that the late Karl was very resourceful and provided immense service to the people of Grenada and left in his wake a rich legacy and that he was deeply touched by his departure.
He believes that Hudson-Phillip will not be missed just by the legal fraternity in the region but throughout the world.
“He left an indelible mark on the legal system”, said DPP Nelson.
Attorney-at-Law, Celia Clyne-Edwards, QC, representing the Inner Bar, also shared with her colleagues her experience working with and knowing the legal icon.
“He was my friend,” she told them, adding that Hudson-Phillip never forgot his homeland Grenada, despite being born in Trinidad.
She recalled his regular retreat at his home in Carriacou and his open invitations to friends to visit even in his absence.
She recalled that Karl was always “helpful and supportive” but is comforted by the fact that he lived a full and long life, the way he wanted to live it.
Clyne-Edwards urged friends and families to cherish his memories.
Attorney-at-Law, Ruggles Ferguson who spoke on behalf of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Bar Association commended the achievement of Hudson-Phillip for his more than 50 years of service as a lawyer and “dying at the Bar with his booths on”.
Ferguson said that he was shocked to hear of the sudden passing of Hudson Phillip whom he referred to as “a true man of the people”.
“He was a fearless man and a professional, who tread the places others feared to venture”, he said of Hudson-Phillip.
Ferguson recalled the legacy left behind by the former TNT Attorney-General in the criminal, civil, corporate and International law.
He said that there is no doubt that Hudson-Phillip stood out in both criminal and civil legal proceedings and served as both a Prosecutor and Defense attorney with a meticulous eye for detail.
“We have a lot to learn from him as individuals,” he added.
Jennifer Hudson-Phillip, herself an attorney-at-law, was present in the courtroom to reminiscence on the life of her father.
She said she is satisfied that he lived fully and passionately and left no place for mediocrity.
She said that those who did not truly know her father considered him arrogant but others like her remembers his humorous and softer side, and one who never forgot his humble beginnings.
High Court Judge, Madam Justice Margaret Price-Findley, also reflected on the life of Hudson-Phillip.
She recalled a T&T newspaper article, which referred to him as the best Prime Minister Trinidad ever had despite the fact that Hudson-Phillip was never elected to that position.
She lauded his exemplary knowledge of the courtroom and branded it as outstanding.
“His was a life well lived”, said Price-Findley who is considered as the senior high court judge on the island.
Hudson-Phillips who was appointed as a Queen’s Counsel in 1970 also served as a judge of the International Criminal Court (ICC) from 2003 to 2007.
A former President of the Law Association of Trinidad & Tobago, Hudson-Phillip was awarded the Order of Trinidad and Tobago and served as a Member of Parliament from 1966 to 1976.
Between 1969 and 1973 he served as Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs. In 1980, he founded the Organisation for National Reconstruction (ONR), a political party which contested the 1981 General Elections.
Despite getting the second-highest vote tally in the election, the ONR failed to secure a single seat in Parliament.