Hide and seek in the Gardens

A leading Grenadian lawyer is not amused at the run around she is getting in trying to serve a court document on Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell in a matter seeking to send him to the Richmond Hill prison for failing to pay millions of dollars owed by government to the Trinidad and Tobago company known as DIPCON Engineering Ltd.

A well-placed source told THE NEW TODAY newspaper that Queen’s Counsel, Celia Clyne-Edwards will make another effort this week to get her Bailiff to serve the summons on Dr. Mitchell for him to appear in court around the middle of September to answer an order of Mandamus that was filed against him in the Dipcon matter.

The Order of Mandamus, rarely used by lawyers, is seeking to get the court to commit Dr. Mitchell in his capacity as Minister of Finance for failing to honour a court agreement reached several years ago to compensate Dipcon to the tune of close to $20 million E.C for breach of contract.

One of the first acts taken by Mitchell’s New National Party (NNP) when it came into government in June 1995 was the move by newly appointed Works Minister, Gregory Bowen to terminate the contract that DIPCON had signed to do a number of road projects on the island under the previous Congress government of Sir Nicholas Brathwaite.

Attorney Clyne-Edwards has complained of being totally ignored by the cash-strapped Mitchell government on its return to power following the February 2013 poll to make any payments on the DIPCON judgement.

A well-placed legal source said that the Bailiff assigned to the law office of Clyne-Edwards showed up at the Prime Minister’s Office in the Botanical Gardens, armed with the summons but was prevented from executing it by the Co-ordinator of Security for the compound, Cletus St. Paul.

According to the source, St. Paul informed the Bailiff that he cannot serve any document on the Prime Minister and that he should try and do it on the Attorney-General, Cajeton Hood.

He said that Hood was approached to accept the summons on behalf of the Prime Minister but politely declined to do so.

He spoke of the law firm of Clyne-Edwards agreeing to pursue that approach in order to save the Prime Minister the embarrassment and to allow the Office of the Prime Minister to remain with some form of dignity.

The legal source pointed out that Hood’s approach now leaves the law firm with no choice but to get the Bailiff to serve the document personally on the Prime Minister.

Speculation is rife that Clyne-Edwards can approach the high court to intervene and force Prime Minister Mitchell to accept a court decree since the Judiciary is on equal footing with the Executive Branch of the government under the Grenada Constitution Order.

The source could not confirm reports circulating in the country that the Security detail of the Prime Minister shuffled him through a back door in the office on the Sixth floor of the building to avoid the Bailiff getting an opportunity to serve the court document on him.

Security sources confirmed to this newspaper that there is a back door in the office but it is hardly ever used by the holder of the office since the official vehicles for the Prime Minister are often parked in the front section of the building.

The last Bailiff who attempted to serve a court document on Prime Minister Mitchell was Terry Registe and he had a serious run-in battle with the then Head of Special Branch of the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF), Superintendent Anthony De Gale who has since been promoted to the rank of Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP).

Registe was made aware of a public meeting involving Dr. Mitchell’s ruling party during his earlier sting in the 2003-08 period and visited the area in Cherry Hill to effect the summons.

De Gale ordered several police officers who were attending the meeting to form a human shield around the Grenadian leader in order to prevent Registe from serving the document on him.

This particular summons was related to a case brought against Dr. Mitchell by a U.S national Charles Howland who was seeking to recover monies allegedly received by the Prime Minister from imprisoned fraudster, Eric Resteiner, the former Grenada ambassador under the NNP administration.

The case reached a stumbling block when Prime Minister Mitchell approached the U.S State Department to grant him immunity from prosecution in the United States as the head of a government.

A legal source familiar with the serving of court documents said that St. Paul’s runs the risk of having criminal charges slapped on him for attempting to interfere with the work of the court system.

He said that Clyne-Edwards, a seasoned and experienced lawyer, can exercise the option of moving for criminal proceedings to be instituted against St. Paul if he tries once again to prevent her court-recognised Bailiff, a former police officer, from serving the summons on Prime Minister Mitchell.

St. Paul, the former Chief bodyguard to executed Marxist Prime Minister Maurice Bishop, is now an executive member of the NNP.

St. Paul played a critical role in the high court trial in the 1980’s that convicted former Deputy Prime Minister, Bernard Coard and his supporters such as Army Chiefs Ewart Layne and Liam James, as well as ex-Mobilisation Minister, Selwyn Strachan for the October 19, 1983 bloody murder of Bishop in a bloody internal coup d’etat within the then ruling New Jewel Movement (NJM) that had started the 1979-83 Grenada Revolution.

St Paul’s evidence that was that while he was held in custody at Fort Rupert, he observed the NM Central Committee holding a meeting at which the decisive decision was taken through a vote of members present to execute Bishop and his ministerial colleagues such as Unison Whiteman (Foreign Affairs) Jacqueline Creft (Education) and Norris Bain (Housing) after bitter feuding for control of the NJM-led revolutionary process in Grenada.

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