High Court judge, Justice Brian Cottle, on Monday, admonished lawyers over their failure to attend court for their clients’ matters.
“Why bother to turn up? If you feel like going on vacation, you go on vacation,” he said as the matters involving accused murderers Jeremy Alexander and Etson Timm were called.
That matter was called after another in which counsel Israel Bruce, one of the lawyers involved in a case in which there are five defendants, was absent, presumably because he is overseas on vacation.
Bruce was among counsel representing Andres Cuffy, Lennox Andrews, Brydon Joseph, Courtney Joseph, and Shemei Joseph, who are to be tried for murder in connection with the July 20, 2016 killing, in Vermont, of Kamau Jones, 32, of Union Island.
The trial has been set to begin on Dec. 6.
“Why bother to come on a Monday morning? If you don’t want to come on a Monday morning you don’t come on a Monday morning,” Justice Cottle said as the court conducted case management of the matter in which Alexander and Timm, both of Diamond, are to be tried for murder in connection with the May 8, 2019 shooting death of Darron “Precious” Davy in Kingstown.
Assistant Director of Public Prosecution, Tammika Da Silva-Mc Kenzie told the court that the Crown does not have that privilege.
The Crown Counsel told the court that defence counsel Kay Bacchus-Baptiste had indicated that she was before High Court judge, Justice Esco Henry — who handles civil matters.
“Of course,” Justice Cottle said in a sarcastic tone.
“And she has not sent anyone to hold papers,” the prosecutor continued.
“Why bother?” Justice Cottle commented.
The prosecutor indicated to the court that Stephen Williams is the other counsel in the murder trial. Williams was also absent.
Continuing in the same sarcastic tone, the judge said that he presumed that Williams was counsel on the other side — in the matter for which Bacchus-Baptiste was before Justice Henry.
Da Silva-Mc Kenzie said that both lawyers were served notices for matters tomorrow (Tuesday) and suggested that the matters involving Alexander and Timm be listed for then.
Justice Cottle, however, noted that the lawyers had been served notices for today.
“Why would they bother to come tomorrow?” he said.
Da Silva-Mc Kenzie said that while the court should not operate at the lawyers’ convenience, taking the interest of the accused into consideration, maybe the matter should be fixed to tomorrow.
She subsequently said that perhaps the matters should be fixed for Wednesday.
“Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I have been reliably informed that in my old age I have become a grumpy old man,” Justice Cottle said, adding that what he knows is that he has less tolerance for what he sees as “nonsense”.
He said that when time is wasted it cannot be regained and when counsel fail to turn up when their clients are on trial for murder, it suggests to him that perhaps lawyers place higher priority on other matters.
Justice Cottle noted that lawyers cannot be in two places at the same time but added that they have to decide how to prioritise their matters.
“But, obviously, trials for murder are not important enough in the grand scheme of things for some people,” the judge said.
He thanked the jurors for their patience and understanding, noting that the Crown had said that Wednesday is a good day to ask them to come back.
“We shall see whether or not there is any work that we can usefully embark on at that time.”
The judge then told the accused men that he was unsure as to whether their lawyers had told them why they were absent but they had not told the court.
“My apologies for today’s lack of play but there is not much I can do unless I have the cooperation of counsel,” Justice Cottle said.