A warning has been issued to motorists that they can be faced with a charge of ‘contempt of court’ for the “abhorrent climate” that is being created in the vicinity of the High Court building in St. George’s, as a consequence of the constant interruption caused particularly by bus drivers through the frequent tooting of their horns as they traverse the area.
According to longstanding criminal defense Attorney, Anselm Clouden, who is charged with the responsibility to advise motorists on the issue, Guyanese-born Judge Justice Paula Gilford, who presides over the No. 2 High Court on The Carenage has ”indicated that it (the blowing of vehicle horns in the vicinity of the court) is indeed a contempt of court (as it) interferes with the due administration of justice in the context of constant interruptions by motorists blowing their horns from time to time in the vicinity of the court.”
The outspoken attorney called a press conference at his Lucas Street law office on Tuesday, to communicate the concerns expressed by the female judge.
“Madam Justice Paula Gilford has indicated, should that practice continue, may it be bus drivers or motorists in general, of blowing the horns in close proximity or in the vicinity of the court, they will be pulled into court, charged with contempt of court and committed to Her Majesty’s Prison,” said Attorney Clouden, who was not in a position to speak to the extent to which such a committal is going to take place.
He also used the opportunity to point out the unfortunate circumstance that the “court is not insulated and as a consequence, any disturbance from outside, even loud speaking in the corridors of the court affects the adjudicative process.
“There is a bus stop just outside the court on the left going towards Town and on the left away from town…it annoys the judges, who sit in High Court No. 2, it creates an embarrassment because from time to time, the court has to stop (and) allow the motorists to pass (and) the horn blowing to cease…and that is frustrating Her Ladyship (Justice Gilford). It is inhibiting her ability to adjudicate in a clean and undisturbed atmosphere at her court house,” the attorney remarked.
“It (the tooting of vehicle horns) certainly distorts the recording of the court proceedings…so I think the public ought to give due consideration and amend their ways, try as best they can to avoid blowing their horns around the precincts of the court,” he said.
When asked if he thinks it is unfair to the bus drivers who may not be blowing their horns with the intention to disturb the court proceedings, Attorney Clouden alluded to the recent erection of a sign just outside the court house “prohibiting the blowing of horns in the vicinity of the court.”
He said “this is a matter for the executive” branch of government and expressed the view that “the police have done all they can by putting signs up notifying the public that it is undesirable to blow your horns around the court.”
According to the long-standing attorney, Justice Gilford said if the interruption continues “she is prepared to make an example especially of those bus drivers who constantly (blow their horns) in order to attract passengers on either side of the road.”
Attorney Clouden acknowledged that “the court ought to be insulated for noise and acknowledged that “it’s going to cost some money.”
The charge of contempt of court carries a maximum penalty of 2 years imprisonment.