Antiguan Attorney-at-law, Renroy Samuel has signaled his intention to appeal against a high court decision preventing him from practicing law in the local courts.
Two weeks ago, female high court judge, Justice Margaret Mohammed ordered the Registrar of the Supreme court Registry to remove Samuel’s name from the list of accredited barristers-at-law in the country in light of a disbarment order against him in New York. The judge ruled against Samuel in the face of a challenge mounted against him by the Grenada Bar Association (GBA) who requested that the earlier decision to allow him to be admitted to practice in the local jurisdiction should be revered in light of the New York issue.
In a reaction to the development, Samuel told THE NEW TODAY that he has asked a local attorney to appeal the ruling on the grounds that it was highly flawed in many instances.
He took issue in particular with the conclusions arrived at by Justice Mohammed with specific reference to an affidavit filed in the case by former Attorney-General Jimmy Bristol.
The following statement was sent to THE NEW TODAY by the embattled attorney-at-law:
Hermeneutics, which is the “science of interpretation” posits as its core principle that “context” is quintessential to interpretation.
Accordingly, it is important that we place all of the facts and circumstances of the Samuel case in its proper context.
In March of 2014 the Grenada Bar Association (GBA) filed an action to disbar Samuel.
Samuel timely opposed the mode of bringing the action against him and the Court set a date for Hearing.
The Court, which is backed up for years moved up the date of the Hearing and made a decision to dismiss the Respondent’s application without explanation or reason, in the absence of the Respondent and his counsel, Dr. Francis Alexis QC.
In making its decision in the absence of the Respondent and his counsel, the Court unlawfully accepted submissions from the GBA that were never served on the Respondent or his counsel and proceeded to set out dates for papers to be filed and served.
Neither the Court nor the GBA extended the normal professional courtesies to the Respondent and his counsel, Dr. Francis Alexis QC.
The GBA was satisfied to proceed by ambush and the Court sanctioned and assisted this travesty.
Because the Respondent and his counsel were unaware of the Court’s action and were never informed by the Court or the GBA, the Respondent only became aware of the date for filing the Respondent’s submissions and affidavit the evening before the documents were to be filed.
Because the Respondent and his counsel had one day to prepare the Respondent’s submissions several supporting documents could not have been included.
Generally, when a Court is in need of information that is critical to a determination, it will afford counsels the opportunity to provide such information. Regrettably, the Court decided to deviate from the normal practices and courtesies of the profession.
The Judgment is in aberration.
“Neither Party filed a notice objecting to any of the affidavits filed in this.” The Respondent was never afforded the opportunity by the Court.
Paragraph 2 (of the judgment of Justice Mohammed)
“Disbarment speaks to the respondent’s character …”
That may be true generally, where the Attorney was properly served with notice of the disciplinary proceedings and has the opportunity to defend himself. But in the particular circumstances of the Samuel disbarment in New York, he had left the country and was never served, and as a consequence could not defend himself.
The disbarment decision of the court clearly states:
“… based upon a petition dated October 5, 2001, the respondent was directed to serve an answer within 10 days after service upon him of the order …
The petitioner now moves for an order disbarring the respondent on default based upon his failure to file an answer to the petition.
Accordingly, the petitioner’s motion is granted, the respondent is disbarred on default …”
There has not been a determination of the matter based on the merits of the case. Therefore, it is misguided, injudicious and mistaken to state or find that the Samuel disbarment speaks to character.
Paragraph 6 (ruling of Justice Mohammed)
“The AG (Cajeton Hood) also indicated to Mr. (Jimmy) Bristol that subsequent to his receiving the said information he spoke to the Respondent and discussed the Disbarment Order with him.”
There is no affidavit from the AG in this case. The Court imprudently accepts hearsay evidence from Mr. Bristol as fact and continues in this regrettable practice throughout the entire judgment.
The Respondent had no such conversation with the AG regarding the Disbarment Order.
“Mr. Bristol was of the view at that meeting that the Respondent expressed no surprise or concern about the existence of the Disbarment Order.”
Here we find the Court improvidently according credence to a psychological assessment of the Respondent by Mr. Bristol as fact and proceeds to accept every assertion that Mr. Bristol advances.
“According to Mr. Bristol, the respondent did not deny that he was disbarred from practicing in the State of New York.”
Why would the Respondent deny the disbarment when Mr. Bristol was bringing the official record of the disbarment to his attention?
“[Mr. Bristol] informed the Respondent that the GBA treated this matter seriously and that he would discuss it with its Executive. The Executive met in early 2014 and it was decided that some form of action must be taken.”
The careful reading of the minutes of the meetings of the GBA Executive regarding the Samuel Disbarment would immediately reveal the deception and untruthfulness of Mr. Bristol and the complicity of the GBA Executive in this connection.
“The AG contacted Mr. Bristol for an update and they agreed that Mr. Bristol would meet with the Respondent again.”
The authority of the Executive of the GBA is usurped by collusive agreement between the AG and Mr. Bristol.
Paragraph 8 (of ruling by Justice Mohammed)
All of the assertions that Mr. Bristol attributes to the Respondent in this paragraph are false, malicious and fabricated to meet the objectives of the scheme concocted between Mr. Bristol and the AG, who had serious issues with not making the agreed payments to the Respondent for his services at Justice Chambers.
First, it was obvious and therefore easy to fabricate that the Respondent had not challenged the Disbarment Order, because any challenge and decision would have been a matter of public record, which could be easily retrieved from the internet.
Secondly, the Respondent does intend to return to practice law before the Courts of New York State, and never made any statement to Mr. Bristol to the contrary. My friend and colleague, Gerald Douglass, who practices in New York will attest to that fact.
Thirdly, the statement by Mr. Bristol that the Respondent stated he did not challenge the Disbarment Order on the grounds of having no money to do so is a blatant fabrication. Finance is not an issue in challenging the Disbarment Order because the Petition would be prepared by the Respondent himself and filed and served by the law firm of his long-standing friend Douglass and Associates at no cost to the Respondent.
Fourthly, Mr. Bristol, who is a civil attorney, had every opportunity to learn the New York law that an Attorney and Counselor at Law, who is disbarred in New York has the right to re-apply and be admitted to practice after seven (7) years.
The error of Mr. Bristol’s fabrication is in attributing the basis for readmission to his idea that it is because the disbarment is considered “spent”. The Respondent, who practiced criminal law in New York State for several years, is well aware that the basis for readmission in the New York Law has nothing to do with the criminal law concept of “spent offences”.
Fifthly, the Respondent had no conversation with Mr. Bristol about disclosing any disbarment when he was admitted to the Antigua bar. In fact, the Respondent was called to the bar in Antigua before the Disbarment Order, so the issue of disbarment would never have arisen in his call to the Antigua bar.
Paragraph 12 (Ruling of Justice Mohammed)
“In my view the issue of confidentiality is irrelevant for the purpose of the application since there are no laws which prevent the contents of that conversation from now being disclosed.”
The Respondent had the right to have no conversation with Mr. Bristol, and he only relinquished that right because Mr. Bristol assured him of the confidential nature of the conversations.
After assuring the Respondent that the conversations are confidential, Mr. Bristol became the Attorney of record in the GBA Application to disbar the Respondent.
What is even more irregular and unconscionable is that as Attorney of Record, Mr. Bristol swore an affidavit in the matter. Mr. Bristol gave evidence in a matter in which he was acting as attorney of record.
Paragraph 16 (Ruling of Justice Mohammed) Please note the Court’s observation. But even though the AG chose not to file an affidavit in the matter, the Court accepts assertions made by Mr. Bristol as veritable statements of the AG. That Speaks for itself (res ipsa loquitur).
Paragraph 18 (Ruling of Justice Mohammed)
The Court points out that Mr. Lawrence Joseph blatantly lied in his affidavit.
Paragraph 19 (Rulnig of Justice Mohammed)
“After Mr. Sandy had brought the Disbarment Order to the AG’s attention, which was in December 2013.”
In his affidavit, Mr. Sandy states that he became aware of the Disbarment Order “late 2013”, but the Court capriciously contrives that statement to mean “December 2013”, so that it can comport withthe statement of Mr. Bristol.
Paragraph 1 (Ruling of Justice Mohammed) “… the Respondent was aware of the Disbarment Order before the first meeting. It is common ground the AG who orchestrated the meeting was aware of it. It is therefore plausible to me that when the AG was orchestrating the meeting between the Respondent and Mr. Bristol he told the Respondent about the Disbarment Order, since the latter was still working at the former’s private chambers”
It is a travesty to see how the Court was prepared to decide the ultimate issue in a case where an attorney’s license to practice is at stake on the basis of speculation, innuendo and supposition.
The Court was prepared to swallow the fabrications of Mr. Bristol hook, line and sinker. I have addressed those fabrications in section 2.5 above.