As Madam Justice Jacqueline Cornelius accompanied by and photographed with her BLP-candidate husband Mr Ralph Thorne, garners credit for her stance on sexual abuse and harassment and calls for legislation to address same, she appears not to know, and certainly fails to mention, that this issue has been comprehensively addressed by Madam Justice Kaye Goodridge (now Justice of Appeal Goodridge) in 2013 in the case of Margaret Wharton vs the Bank of Nova Scotia. See: http://www.barbadoslawcourts.gov.bb/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Margaret-Wharton-v.-Bank-of-Nova-Scotia.pdf .
The Goodridge decision is now law and binds the Barbados courts. As such, therefore, in the scope of the Goodridge decision, since it is already law, there is little need for legislation in respect of this scope. Cornelius J., in her bid to “champion” the cause of persons sexually harassed in the workplace, omits to give Goodridge J. credit where credit is due. Why?
While we are most willing to admit that a further codification is likely desirable and the plight of all sexually harassed persons and those the victims of abuse needs to be more comprehensively addressed, to be constantly monitored, to be constantly upgraded and, most importantly, to be rigorously enforced, we are bothered by the sight of a high court judge appearing, as the run-up to a general election is in “pre-production”, accompanied and photographed with an opposition candidate (irrespective of whether it is her husband or not) and making speeches that, by omission, are less than frank and accurate. Far better that Cornelius J. should, like Goodridge JA., use her office to write new law and clarify existing law by way of precedent, than give the appearance of political bias by lack of frankness as to the true state of the law. A judge is allowed in decisions to provide “obiter dicta” and we recommend this to Cornelius J. as a means of publicizing her views on what areas of the existing legislation need to be looked at, rather than relying on a quasi-political platform and trite generalizations suggesting what the opposition, if in power, MIGHT do – a sort of implied manifesto and binds, even if it were an official manifesto, no one, as we all, unfortunately, know.
Cornelius J. might feel impelled to claim, based on this article, that she didn’t know of the Goodridge decision. However, we point out that the case of Wharton vs BNS was reported by both Barbados Today (http://www.barbadostoday.bb/2013/07/01/youre-wrong-2/ ) and by the same Nation that has been so diligent in regaling the public with reports on the speeches of Cornelius J., (see: http://www.nationnews.com/nationnews/news/31892/bank-pay ) along with photos of her and her BLP candidate husband, Mr Thorne. There are inferences to be made here and we can leave that to our readers., some of whom may think, “Women’s vote for Mr Thorne/BLP?” or “If Marston goes, who will replace him?” Or even both – kill two birds with one stone, maybe?
We also need to ask if Cornelius J. has simply failed to register the Goodridge J. decision from almost three years ago, because she is so busy working on her reserved judgements and supporting her politician/QC husband and has no time to concentrate on reading the judgements of her colleagues (now seniors) that bind the courts.
BTW, Madam Justice, how many reserved judgements do you have yet to deliver and how long have litigants been waiting for your decisions on each of them? If the principal of “Justice may neither be sold nor delayed” is not being met by you, is this not an abuse of litigants and their families and equally akin to the abuse that arises from sexual harassment and abuse? Are you familiar with the rules of equity that mandate that one must come before the court with clean hands?
We would also point out that sexual harassment and abuse is not solely attributable to men and that men can be victims too and that women can be the perpetrators – indeed, sexual abuse and harassment is not solely between men and women, but can be between those of the same sex. For clarification and confirmation, Madam Justice Cornelius, you can seek advice from any of your husband’s BLP colleagues, from MAM and Kerry down. After all, it is surmised and resoundingly mooted that we lack integrity legislation and FoI because MP’s dare not have it legislated and codified. We are perplexed as to why you, Cornelius J./Ralph Thorne, apparently imagines that further legislation dealing specifically with harassment and abuse would not suffer a similar fate.
BU notes that Mr Thorne’s main claim to fame was his representation of Turks and Caicos Premier Michael Misick, a case in which Thorne’s arguments were decided to be frivolous and vexatious http://www.tciaffairs.net/news/former-tci-premier-michael-misick-lawyer-describes-his-legal-options-as-severely-limited-following-court-ruling/). Another part of this case was lost before the Privy Council (see https://www.jcpc.uk/cases/docs/jcpc-2015-0042-judgment.pdf ). This was an important case that has serious ramifications for Barbados. The genus of the matter was that the lower courts determined that none of its judges could hear a case of corruption and embezzlement against Mr Missick, due to possible conflict of interest and therefore appointed a senior external and highly respected judge from Jamaica. Missick objected, but the Privy Council ruled in a unanimous verdict in 2015 against Missick and upheld the Turks and Caicos courts.
If this PC decision is occasionally adopted in Barbados, it is reasonable to speculate that any cases involving sexual harassment and abuse may well see Cornelius J. having to recuse herself, due to bias and political partisanship, because, God forbid, justice, frankness and transparency should stand in the way of political agendas. Indeed, it may well be successfully argued that Cornelius J. has already rendered herself ineligible to try any cases of this nature that may be placed on her docket and we cite the example of Lord Hofmann in the Pinochet case.
So what have we actually got? We have a high court judge who has flung her hat into the political arena and comprehensively rendered herself ineligible to carry out her office and professional obligations and try cases of a certain nature and has, moreover, failed to recognise existing legislation and precedent in her blind desire to advance the political aspirations of her husband and his political party to grab the women’s vote. Stupid, as the vast majority of women in Barbados are not only cognitive, but highly intelligent and well able to discern (usually better than men can) when an attempt is being made to pull the political wool over their eyes. In the final analysis, it seems likely that women in Barbados will read with great care and comprehension the judgement of Goodridge J. and reach their own conclusions and not rely on a government headed by Mia, Kerry et al to carry out the implied promises of Mrs Ralph Thorne.