Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves has suggested that a magistrate can make a decision in court based on information not presented in open court.
Gonsalves, a lawyer who is also Minister of Legal Affairs, made the suggestion on Thursday as he commented on WE-FM’s “Shake-up” about Magistrate Bertie Pompey’s decision to send a female model for psychiatric evaluation.
The prosecution, which had made the request, did not present any reason why Yugge Farrell, 22, who appeared in court on Friday on an abusive language charge, should be sent for psychiatric evaluation.
In his call to the programme on Thursday, Gonsalves said that the court may get information from the police to make a determination which is “not necessarily canvassed inside the open court because you have to be concerned most of all about the patient, the person, and you don’t want, in anyway, to prejudice their health or circumstances and that is the long and short of the story.”
Farrell, a Lowmans Bay resident, was sent for the psychiatric evaluation after she pleaded not guilty to a charge that she used abusive language to the prime minister’s daughter-in-law, Karen Duncan-Gonsalves, wife of Finance Minister, Camillo Gonsalves.
Commenting further on the court’s decision, Gonsalves said:
“Apparently some people think that in the open court the magistrate has to be taking evidence in open court. Look, the magistrate can make a determination on what he has before him, and the police can give him things.
“This is not during a trial, you know. This is at the stage where somebody is brought to plea. This is not during a trial. And as an experienced lawyer in this business, I am just amazed as to how the defence counsel in that matter acted.”
Farrell was represented by Grant Connell, who acted pro bono on her behalf and objected strenuously to her being sent to the psychiatric hospital.
She returns to court on Jan. 22.