Judge threat allegations
…defends his actions in court
Although Justice Franklin Holder has called on Attorney General Basil Williams to apologise for his outbursts in court, the State’s chief legal adviser has expressed an unwillingness to do so.
“What? I don’t know about apology,” Williams declared on Wednesday during a brief press conference when prompted by reporters on whether he would heed the Judge’s desires and issue an apology.
Justice Holder had written to the acting Chancellor of the Judiciary, Justice Yonette Cummings-Edwards complaining of the behaviour of the Attorney General during the hearing of a prominent court matter involving trade unionist Carvil Duncan.
But Williams maintained his innocence as he continued to cast blame on his predecessor, Anil Nandlall for causing Justice Holder to abruptly walk out the courtroom – even though the Judge has since clarified that the issue stemmed from the Attorney General’s “egregious” and “disrespectful” behaviour during the court proceedings.
“Nandlall was the one who caused the problem…we can’t allow Nandlall to create this problem and leave it unresolved. The Judge and I will resolve this issue,” Williams stated, in contradiction to the Judge’s explanation, which was published in snippets in the State-owned newspaper.
In fact, the Attorney General even defended his actions and his statements.
“Everything I dealt with in that short time was to disabuse the learned Judge’s mind that his interpretation was not (so),” he stated.
Williams believed that the Judge fell prey to “transferred frustration” as a result of Nandlall’s “barracking” of nearly three hours.
“Perhaps his detaining the learned Judge again as he was preparing to leave the bench, seeking clarity on whether the witness’s answer of ‘no’ was recorded, induced certain misapprehensions in the Judge’s mind in all the circumstances and the Attorney General became the victim of transferred frustration,” Williams said in a statement circulated during the media engagement.
But according to articles published in the State newspaper, Justice Holder, in a letter dated March 24, 2017 to Justice Cummings-Edwards, said he “took umbrage to his (Williams’) tone and what he was insinuating, which was in effect that the court was being selective in recording the evidence”.The Judge said Williams responded by saying that the last person who told him what he should not say was a magistrate and he was now dead.“He further said all morning Mr Nandlall disrespecting you and you have not done anything about it,” Holder wrote, adding that he told Williams that this was not a true statement of what had occurred.“This was followed by a most egregious statement by Mr Williams, which is: “I could say what I want to say and when I want to say it; I have always been like that.”At this point, Justice Holder said he left the bench without adjourning the matter. “Immediately after hearing these words, I rose from the bench and went into my chambers. I did not adjourn the matter, nor did I give any instructions to the parties,” Justice Holder outlined. In the letter, he also expressed that the Attorney General should apologise to him in an open court.Nonetheless, Williams said he was prepared to work with the Judge to resolve the issue. In fact, the Attorney General said he would be responding to the complaint in writing.
Nandlall – who was Duncan’s lawyer during the court proceeding – had interpreted Williams’ statements as a death threat against the Judge and condemned the Minister’s actions.
But, during a press conference Friday last, Williams threatened to file legal action against news outlets that reported on the allegations of him issuing death threats.
Meanwhile, the Opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) has called on the Guyana Police Force (GPF) to launch an investigation into the allegations.
Despite the Attorney General’s pleas of innocence, the PPP insists the matter warrants an extensive probe as it believes the threats should not be viewed in isolation, but in conjunction with other incidents where the Government has attempted to subvert independent offices.