With the resignations of 19 lawyers from the Legal Affairs Ministry/Attorney General’s Chambers since this Government took over in 2015, calls are being made for an investigation into the Ministry’s high turnover rate.
According to staff who reached out to Guyana Times, lawyers in the AG’s Chambers have to contend with a difficult and even toxic and abusive working environment.
Pointing to the large proportion of cases being lost by the Chambers in the courts, the employees recommended an investigation into claims of mismanagement and bad legal advice being followed.
“Donna Sulker’s matter in which the Police killed a young man,” the source gave as an example. “Donna Sulker was prepared to accept $7 million… the court awarded in excess of $20 million after a full trial was concluded.”
“The same level of incompetence was displayed in the matter concerning Ambassador (Harry Narine) Nawbatt. The contract was not properly terminated and the Ambassador was prepared to accept approximately $7 million, which represented his gratuity and other benefits… on (the Chamber’s advice) the State has been ordered by the court to pay in excess of $20 million in this case.”
Those lawyers, who departed the Chambers include former Registrar and Solicitor General, Sita Ramlall, who was forced to move to the High Court last year over her pension and gratuity being withheld and former Deputy Solicitor General Prithima Kissoon, who sued for wrongful dismissal. The vast majority of the lawyers departing are female. Efforts to contact Attorney General Basil Williams for a comment on the issue proved futile.
The Attorney General had come in for much criticism previously for his comments on Kissoon, with commentators bashing the manner in which he dealt with the matter.
In a letter to the Editor published in local newspapers in 2017, the former Deputy Solicitor General’s father, prominent Attorney Jailall Kissoon, pointed out that this is the first time in legal history that an AG has levelled such a blast of terror and fear upon the Judiciary or his own legal officer.
“The fallout from this scurrilous blast has radiated its tremulous fear through the spinal cord of the entire body of the Judiciary in Guyana and elsewhere,” he pointed out.
According to the senior Kissoon, there are recorded documents in court to support that the ruling against the State-sponsored appeal was a pure stream of justice flowing uninterruptedly; that is, until it was polluted by the Attorney General in an article published in the State-owned Guyana Chronicle newspaper.
“Your prejudiced perception is that the Chancellor, together with applicant Bharrat Jagdeo, his Attorney-at-Law, Mr (Mursaline) Bacchus and the Deputy Solicitor General Prithima Kissoon, all of common ethnicity, caused the Attorney General and the Editor to fall in the dark mud of malice and partiality that Jagdeo must receive the benefit from the court unjustly. But the law does not recognise skin colour, the law is the law,” the Attorney penned.
He went on to say that, “the Attorney General, who has such legal wisdom and foresight, ought to have seen the unholy conspiracy of the bench and Bar and should have appeared in person, as leader of the Bar, filed his Affidavit in Answer, argued his case as a legal luminary and eminent counsel and crushed the Applicant’s case to smithereens.”