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Brian Cottle

Justice Brian Cottle. (iWN file photo)

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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. 

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“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.

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8 replies on “Judge admonishes lawyers absent for clients’ murder trials”

  1. Just so that all concerned are aware that I ISRAEL R BRUCE I am not on vacation. I am away tending to matters in another jurisdiction. Dates were agreed in some cases months in advance. My St. Vincent office got less than a week’s notice of this possible commencement of trial. Having read what I read I felt compelled to set the records straight. I take no pleasure in responding here, nor did i take pleasure in the misperception which was let loose.

  2. From what the Judge and Mr Bruce said there seems to be a lack of communication on matters of such high importance. This should never happen. It does no courtesy to justice. Where is the natural justice and procedural fairness for clients who are expected to receive them? Is it then fair to say this is a betrayal of justice. It begs the question who is right or wrong? Is it ths judge or Mr Bruce? Is it expected for a lawyer to inform the judge of his absence? Is this fair play or semantics playing out in the high Courts?

  3. Lawyrs here need to stop the greed. You need to take a case load you can handle. The court system here is slow and tedious. Put politics aside. People’s livelihood is at stake.

  4. Trust Factor

    Stop the Lawyerly-political attacked on this young Lawyers.

    Since in early sixties vincies has come to ‘Trust” certain lawyers which make their case load, jumping from one part to the others of SVG.
    Our history will name great and personal Lawyers/scout master like Radics of Ratho Mill. Henry Williams who lost his in Leeward side and many more of that era. Then came our own Carlyle Dougan and many of his pairs that pass on. This is not something new ask PM, The torch now pass on to Ms. Baptiste, Connell, and Bruce and few more.

    SVG have high count of Goat skin lawyers in Sheep Clothing which the majority is known as Push Paper Lawyers who are over charging their clients.

    One Lawyer charges a client $10.000 to file appeal against a judgement on land issue, which never see the light of day and that money still in hands of the lawyers in that office.
    This was a burden on my friend heart when we spoke and the next day he pass. RIP.

    SVG Lawyers needs integrity Codes.

    I will quoting the Bible “The sins of the Father will visit (pass) on to third and fourth generations’, sorry to say some already following foot step of their fathers in the said profession.

  5. Correction ;

    Trust factor. The people’s Lawyers
    The two Lawyers I mention in the Trust factor comment: in place of Henry it should be Lawyer Danny Williams’ and Lawyer Alban “Uncle” Radix

  6. Age and them man done call all of you out already. Walt Disney would envy all of you. It’s excuse, excuse and more excuses on top of excuses and then some. The Goofy game workflow.

  7. This is so amazing, finding a lawyer in SVG with the integrity to deal with a case seems to becoming more difficult everyday and I am talking from current experience, alway one excuse after the other, even after they have received your money. God help SVG and it’s Justice system.

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