Therold O’neal Fields, another thieving lawyer? – Photo credit: Nation Newspaper
Given the fact that the Bar Association (BA) has now debunked Barry Gale as its president, the actions by the Chief Justice (CJ) in interfering in matters in which he has no authority must now raise the suspicion that the CJ’s conduct was designed to shore up Barry Gale’s position as president of the BA, given the fact that the BA is contemplating taking legal action against the CJ. Whether this was the CJ’s intent or not, is now a moot point as Barry Gale has been voted out of office and Tariq Khan into office.
BU family member Pachamama raised some interesting points recently concerning what happens to lawyers who appropriate money from clients’ funds. BU did a little research on one such case, that of attorney Therold Fields, which provides the template of how things are done in Barbados – See $700,000 theft charge.
The Disciplinary Committee of the BA referred the matter of Mr Fields to the Court of Appeal. And, predictably, in the last week or so, the Court of Appeal adjourned its hearing. Meanwhile, so far as BY can discover, no criminal proceedings for theft have been commenced by the DPP against Mr Fields. And Mr Fields continues to have the right to practice law.
Why has Mr Fields not been criminally indicted? Why has Mr Fields not been suspended from the practice of law? Why is the CJ usurping an authority that he does not have to go after attorneys who are lawfully practicing law and NOT making free with their clients’ money, but merely insisting on their right under the Constitution not to join an association?
Chief Justice Marston Gibson
On June 19, 2004, Chief Justice Marston Gibson weighed in on the dispute that BU has been covering for some time. That of the Constitution vs the Legal Profession Act Cap 370A. BU has obtained a letter from the CJ to Mr Barry Gale QC, the president of the Bar Association – see letter sent by the CJ to Barry Gale.
The history of the Constitution and the Legal Profession Act goes back to the very beginning of the Act and the formation of the BA. The BA’s first president, Mr Jack Dear QC (later Sir John Dear) realising that the Act was fatally flawed and would not stand up to a constitutional challenge, declined to challenge attorneys who opted not to join the BA, most notably Mr Bobby Clarke, who has never been a member of the BA and between whom and Jack Dear, there was no love lost. If anything there was a mutual and well-known animosity. Successive presidents of the BA have also declined to involve themselves in a face-to-face fight against the Constitution, until the advent of Mr Leslie Haynes.
Chief Justice Douglas refused to involve himself, as did Chief Justice Williams and BU has already published the minutes of the BA in which a consultation between the Registrar, Simmons CJ and Simmons CJ’s then prospective son-in-law and BA president Wilfred Abrahams (now Senator Abrahams) in which the advice of Simmons CJ was to, in effect, left it lone – see Tales From The Courts &ndash XII;Barbados Bar Membership Revisited – Registrar and Sir David Simmons, Wilfred Abrahams Exposed
Retired Judge Peter Williams earns a BU star.
The idea anyone should have to spend eleven years on remand or have to wait a decade to have an appeal heard is unacceptable in any society concerned with delivering justice. When unacceptable delays occur, and some will be justifiable, the legal maxim justice delayed is justice denied comes into play and must be addressed with haste by a caring society. When the person who has to suffer the injustice is a Barbadian it makes it all the more egregious. Others may add we have a government who offered the rhetoric it is committed to build out a society rather than focused on the economy.
BU has posted exhaustively in the Tales from the Courts about the dark side of the Barbados judiciary. Regrettably Barbadians are more concerned (if at all) with other matters. How can we have a wholesome society if we are unable to punish the guilty and protect the innocent? How we retain and compete for new business in the international sector if our judiciary is unable to rule in an efficient read timely manner.
.. a functioning judiciary underpins an orderly society …
We do not accept that our judiciary is tardy or indecisive. Rather, a distinction must be made between the judiciary and the administrative aspects of the justice system – Nation newspaper (June 14, 2014)
It is taboo for the local media to be hostile at the judiciary. BU has been one of the few voices highlighting glaring inefficiencies in our legal system – see Tales from the Courts. Barbados is a society that is respected by those on the outside because our attention to maintaining law and order, AND, a functioning judiciary underpins an orderly society.
Minister Donville Inniss’ public acknowledgement last week that our delinquent judiciary is affecting international investment in Barbados has come as no surprise to BU. Successive governments have allowed politics – like every other thing – to affect decision making in the judiciary. Now we have corroboration from the Minister of Commerce and International Business of situations where business is not coming to Barbados because of concerns about the judiciary. Lest we forget, attracting foreign direct investment is important to Barbados to pay our large import bill AND allows us to maintain our touted high standard of living. Our per capita income is the envy of many.
Unfortunately our leading local newspaper in its editorial quoted above felt to make the distinction between the Court Registry and the Judiciary. This is one of the reasons why Barbados continues to decline on the social and economic indicators index – the failure of the fourth estate to come to the public with clean hands. The Nation editorial conveys the notion that Chief Justice Marston Gibson and Judges have no say in the scheduling of cases and the time it takes to deliver judgements. Of course the delays is compounded by the files at the Court Registry which mysteriously go missing. Meddling by the CJ and Judges has the knock on effect of prolonging justice to those who are remanded for unacceptably long periods. How often have we posted the maxim, justice delayed is justice denied?
When mention is made of layoffs in the public sector no thought is ever given to extending the treatment to our referred Judges. BU has been relentless in the effort to expose the inefficiency of the Judiciary – see Tales from the Courts. Chief Justice Marston Gibson of whom much was expected has resigned himself to communicating about the thousands of cases in backlog which has our courts in gridlock.
There is the saying that if there is to be a different result one cannot continue to do the same thing. The news which appears in today’s Trinidad Newsday newspaper seems relevant to Barbados. These are tough times for all citizens as we grapple with austere conditions, it is time for our Judges to suck it up.
The recommendation coming from a Chief Justice and a sitting Judge in Trinidad is to “WITHHOLD the pay of tardy judges as a penalty for failing to deliver judgments within six months of the conclusion of a case”.
Read the full article – NO PAY FOR TARDY JUDGES
Letter from the Registrar of the Supreme Court sent to the Bar Association (BA) regarding a change to the system of processing probate applications – Click Image
The Registrar opines that in light of the decision in CV 427/2012 entitled Edmund King & Cecil Smith v Marva Clarke the system of processing probate applications is to be changed and that counsel dealing with such applications must now pay for the advertising of the probate application and provide proof of such application, before the Registry will accept the filing of the application.