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Adrian Da Silva Kenton Chance

The plaintiff, Adrian Da Silva, left, and the respondent, Kenton Chance. (iWN photos)

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(Republished from The News newspaper) 

Prominent lawyer Jomo Thomas is expected to file an appeal, today, against the judgement in two counts of defamation brought against prominent journalist Kenton Chance, owner of local news service provider iWitness News (iWN). 

District Magistrate Zoila Ellis-Browne, at the Calliaqua Magistrate’s Court, on Wednesday, delivered judgement in favour of 33-year-old Edinboro resident Adrian Da Silva, a computer programmer, who filed the defamation claims in 2018.

In the matter Adrian Da Silva v Kenton Chance/iWitness News, the magistrate ruled that Chance must pay EC$7,500 on each of the two counts to Da Silva.

“I think it’s a woeful judgement. Mr Chance intends to appeal,” Thomas said when contacted Wednesday evening.

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Asked if there were areas of concern in the magistrate’s decision, Thomas said: “Well, the magistrate didn’t give any reason for her decision, except to say that she believed the evidence of the female witness (Sherika Chandler) and that she didn’t think that Mr. Chance established qualified immunity.”

Thomas, whose law firm has successfully represented clients in some of the biggest civil suits against the state, added: “But in our presentation to the court, we did not only argue qualified immunity, we argued truth, we argued fair comment. And yes, indeed, we argued qualified immunity.

“The magistrate did not, in my respectful opinion, pay sufficiently close attention to the evidence in the case.”

Da Silva claimed he was defamed in a news report published by iWitness News on July 16, 2018.

The news article was based on what was said before the Kingstown Magistrate’s Court on the aforementioned date in a matter in which Old Montrose resident Sherika Chandler, then 27, pleaded guilty to unlawfully and maliciously wounding Da Silva.

During the civil proceeding before the Calliaqua Magistrate’s Court earlier this year, Chance maintained that his news article accurately reflected what transpired in court. He spoke of a request by Da Silva, prior to the civil hearing, to remove the article or amend it — which he considered to be a request to substitute the truth with a lie.

During cross examination, the plaintiff’s lawyer, Duane Daniel, asked Chance: “Now, when Mr. Da Silva reached out to you when you were in Tokyo [,Japan] as you have said, wasn’t it the thrust of what he was saying that the content of your article was inaccurate? Wasn’t he making those representations?”

Chance replied: “Yes, he was. But I made the point that what I reported he was claiming that was not said in court. And it would be ludicrous for somebody to ask me to change the truth and write a lie just because the truth displeases them.”

Daniel then asked Chance: “So, you admit that you refuse to alter or remove the story?”

“Yes,” Chance replied.

The respondent called journalist Ashford Peters as a witness.

In his evidence in chief, Peters told the Court that part of his duties as a journalist is to cover court hearings. He said he was present at the Kingstown Magistrate’s Court when the criminal charge against Chandler came before Senior Magistrate Rickie Burnett. He told the court that he had written a news article on the initial court appearance and that it was published in The News newspaper.

Peters also told the court that sometime after the news article was published, he was inside an office at The News when an employee in the reception area called him and said Da Silva had come to see him.

Peters said that when he went outside, Da Silva queried part of the news article.

Asked by the respondent’s lawyer, Jomo Thomas, if the editor of The News newspaper ever spoke to him about a complaint about the article, Peters said no.

Asked if any legal action was ever brought against The News, Peters said not as far as he was aware.

During cross examination, the plaintiff’s lawyer asked Peters if his news report on the matter involving Da Silva and Sherika Chandler was the same as the article published on iWitness News.

Peters replied that the articles were not the same but the “content” reflected accurately what transpired in the court.

Under cross examination, Peters confirmed that what the defendant claimed was correct and was actually said in the court case in 2018.

The defamation claims were initially before Senior Magistrate Rickie Burnett who presides at the Kingstown Magistrate’s Court. However, Burnett recused himself from the defamation matter, remarking that what Da Silva was disputing sounded familiar to him — suggesting that that which was published was said in his court — and there was a likelihood of him being called upon to testify.

After Burnett recused himself, the matter was sent before the Calliaqua Magistrate’s Court.

In the criminal charge against Chandler, the Kingstown Magistrate’s Court heard from the prosecution that Da Silva was slashed on his sex organ requiring 16 stitches. The court also heard from Chandler that she had a miscarriage of a baby during some time when she was having a relationship with Da Silva.

Chandler, a food vendor, and Da Silva were involved in a fight over his refusal to bathe their 3-year-old son and her wanting to use her phone in his presence on July 12, 2018.

Chance’s lawyer, Jomo Thomas, had asked for an adjournment in trying to obtain the transcript of the original case from the Kingstown Magistrate’s Court, however he was denied.

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8 replies on “iWitness News to appeal ‘woeful judgement’ in defamation case”

  1. THIS IS AN ATTACK ON THE PRESS. KC, It’s too bad but high trees catch a lot of wind and flying can be lonely, Your counsel said that ‘you’ are going to appel the case not ‘he’ is going to appeal the case he lost. ?? How can someone sue for defamation in a case that was tried in Open Courts open to the public and then you as a journalist BEING THE EYES AND EARS OF THE PEOPLE should not do your job? You’re lucky that he was not a SVG Politician. In any event we stand behind you in any way we can.

  2. Avatar Of George OrwellGeorge Orwell says:

    Zoila most likely […] before the hearing of this case….lol …This nah normal judgements….Communist Witch for Ralph.

  3. Avatar Of To Make A Long Story ShortTo Make a Long Story Short says:

    So let me get this straight. There seems to be some dispute as to what was said in court, so why not get a copy of the Magistrate’s notes and tender that in evidence, or even the Court Recording? (Hopefully, SVG records court proceedings) Geez, Seems an easy fix to me.

  4. I agree (to make a long story short). The only way the plaintiff should be able to get a ruling in their favor would be if Kenton added information that did not happen in court and maybe did not happen at all. It seems simple. I do not understand everything in the article but one only has to know what the law is and then determine right from wrong accordingly. I think the judge may have just missed something. Certainly the plaintiff must have been embarrassed from the particulars of the case and has chosen Kenton as the outlet of his frustrations.
    Some say, “Time heals all wounds” and most have actually forgotten this incident but the plaintiff is causing more harm to himself by bringing this to the public eye again. Is it worth what he is getting for damages?

  5. This is what happens in a country that has no law. What a ridiculous judicial decision. How can anyone expect impartial justice in front of Ellis-Browne? The original transcripts exist, but she refused to allow an adjournment to obtain them.

  6. I am not sure why the Magistrate denied getting the transcript of the court proceedings from Kingstown. I will reallyu like to know for this seems a bit odd. In any case, I think Kenton does a very good job as a journalist and I hope that everything gets cleared up on appeal.

  7. I’ll like to ask a question or two here and I’ll greatly appreciate if someone enlighten me, as I intend to do so from a layman’s perspective. Was iWitness News sued because they reported inaccurate contents on the matter or was it because of the rather sensitive contents that were reported? Was it a case where the editor was asked by the plaintiff to RETRACT or was it to CORRECT/AMEND certain contents that were reported in that particular news article?

    However, the master question here is, why would the magistrate denied the defense team an adjournment as requested to obtain transcript of the original case from the KMC? I think it could’ve only been the wisest and just thing the presiding magistrate should’ve done in order to confirm the facts of the matter and would’ve been in a better position to make a fact-based decision.

    I think there are very good grounds for appeal by the respondent’s legal team and something is telling me that appealing this matter would most likely go in their favour.

  8. As someone who is not a novice of the law, the judgement did not reflect natural justice and procedural fairness which is the cornestone pf our legal system. The maxim that law must not only be done but it must be seen to be done is relevant if we follow the common law sytem.

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