Attorney General was not contemptuous of Court; no need for apology to judge- President Granger

Last Updated on Wednesday, 17 May 2017, 11:25 by Denis Chabrol

Chancellor of the Judiciary, Yonette Cummings-Edwards.

President David Granger said he saw no need to ask Attorney General, Basil Williams to apologise to High Court Judge, Frank Holder because his behaviour in the judge’s court was not contemptuous.

“Under the circumstances, I cannot see that there was anything which could have warranted his being cited for contempt of court. As I said, his behaviour was not being contemptuous so in that regard there cannot be any justifiable call for an apology because his behaviour was not in contempt of court,” the President told reporters after swearing in two Justices of Appeal- Dawn Gregory and Chief Justice, Roxanne George.

In a letter to the Chancellor of the Judiciary, Justice Yonnette Cummings-Edwards, Justice Holder had demanded an apology from the Attorney General before he could have appeared before him in that and any other case. “I am not prepared to sit to hear Mr Williams as an Attorney-at-Law in any matter whatsoever, unless he makes a genuine and meaningful apology to my satisfaction, in open Court, both to me and to the Members of the Bar, since they too were scandalized by his despicable conduct,” Justice Holder had said in his report  to the Chancellor on Williams’ “contemptuous behaviour”.

The President said if Justice Holder felt Attorney General Williams’ behaviour was in contempt on March 23, 2017, he  knew what he had to do. The President added that he was satisfied with Williams’ explanation.

FLASH BACK: President David Granger presenting Attorney General, Mr. Basil Williams with his Commission of Appointment as Senior Counsel at State House on January 4, 2017.

“He did not cite the Attorney General for contempt and, as things stand, I feel that the explanation given to me by the Minister of Legal Affairs adequately deals with the complaint which I received,” Granger added.

Justice Holder said at the instance of the incident in court, the Attorney General was “disrespectful” and eventually contemptuous.  “These statements of Mr. Williams that I have recounted taken individually may be perceived as insolent behaviour and not necessarily contempt of Court. However, when considered collectively and withing the time frame that they were made these statements prima facie constitute contemptuous behaviour on his part,”  the judge said on May 8, 2017 in announcing his recusal from the court case.

Against the backdrop of weeks of public political bickering between the Attorney General and Attorney-at-Law, Anil Nandlall on the issue, the High Court Judge has said that the matter has become so politicized. ““Instead, wearing another hat, he was moved during the ensuing weeks to systematically flip the script and to spin this matter in a manner now common in other jurisdictions, to the extent that it has now in my respectful opinion become politicised and irretrievably infected with the perception of bias,” Justice Holder said.

Chancellor of the Judiciary, Justice Cummings-Edwards later told reporters that the judiciary was concerned about the matter and it has since been addressed by Justice Holder.

The High Court judge is angered by the Attorney General’s “rather loud and bellicose manner” and insinuation that the Court was being selective in recording the evidence by a witness. The judge denied the Attorney General’s claim that “all morning Nandlall disrespecting you and you have not done anything about it.” “This was not a true statement reflective of the proceedings at the time.”

Holder also objected to Williams’ “most egregious statement” that “I could say what I want to say and when I want to say it, I have always been like that.”