The trial of the government senator, Ashelle Morgan and Assistant Director of Public Prosecution, Karim Nelson will now take place on Wednesday, at the Mesopotamia Magistrate’s Court, sitting at Calliaqua.
When the matter came up today, Friday, before Magistrate Bertie Pompey, in Mesopotamia, sparks flew between Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), Sejilla Mc Dowall and counsel Kay Bacchus-Baptiste, who has a watching brief in the matter.
Mc Dowall told the court that her office had sent correspondence requesting a rescheduling so that the proceeding could terminate in one sitting.
“That’s my intention,” the DPP said, adding that that is the best way of coordinating the prosecution service, which still intends to secure overseas counsel to prosecute the matter.
Morgan is charged that on April 13, at Diamond, she assaulted John with intent to wound him, while Nelson is charged with wounding John and unlawfully discharging a firearm at him.
John is to be tried on a charge that on the same date, also in Diamond, he used threatening language to Morgan.
Mc Dowall said that in an effort-to ensure that the matter does not proceed part-heard her office made the request to the court and the court agreed.
She said that Ronald “Ronnie” Marks, who represents Nelson, and Duane Daniel, counsel for Morgan, also agreed with the option put to them.
Marks was in court on Friday and told the court that he was holding papers for Daniel in the matter.
Mc Dowall told the court that the prosecution would be ready to proceed with the matters from Nov. 10-12 — next Wednesday to Friday — with the final day being a grace period.
She said that she understands the implication for the other matters — in which businessman Cornelius John is a defendant — but added that the matters involving Nelson and Morgan are the principal one as it concerns the more serious of offences.
She said that the prosecution was indicating its readiness to proceed, although she is not the prosecutor, adding that she was advised by the assigned prosecutor that everything should be all go for Nov. 10, 11.
At this point, Bacchus-Baptiste, who is representing John in his trial, and had indicated to the court that she has a watching brief in the matters involving Nelson and Morgan, told the court that she was never consulted concerning the days of the trial.
She said that the trial of her client was fixed to occur at the Biabou Magistrate’s Court, on Nov. 12.
She said that her information is that John was not consulted on the matter, adding that the DPP represents the virtual complainant in the matters involving Nelson and Morgan.
“I do not,” the DPP said.
The defence counsel said that a while earlier her office had received an email suggesting the rescheduling of John’s trial, which was fixed for Nov. 12.
She said she was not sure if the intention was to reschedule the Nov. 12 matter.
“I am not sure because the DPP did not consult with me,” Bacchus-Baptiste said.
The magistrate said that he was adjourning all of the matters to Nov. 10.
At this point, Marks told the court that regarding Nov. 11, he would request that the proceedings commence at 11, rather than 10 a.m. as he has a part-heard matter before the High Court that should be completed by 10 a.m.
The DPP then rose and said that the standing of a counsel who holds a watching brief does not entitle that counsel to affect the scheduling of a matter in which the counsel is not prosecutor nor defence counsel.
The DPP said that a counsel who holds a watching brief should not be intimately involved in the proceeding.
McDowall said that before the situation gets out of hand, she wished to state her discontent that if when the trial starts, counsel Bacchus-Baptiste would be “allowed to participate in the manner in which she thinks”.
The DPP said that she is all for counsel holding watching briefs but as far as she is aware, the counsel in the matter are the prosecutor approved by the DPP and the defence counsel retained by the accused people.
“So when the intimation that the DPP represents the interest of VC was made, historically, DPP’s office represents no one,” Mc Dowall said, adding that when the DPP’s office does is to ensure that the evidence that a VC intends to give to the court is facilitated.
The DPP said that in the extant situation, where the VC’s status will change to defendant, the office of the DPP needs “to ensure that we are safely distanced”.
McDowall said that in this particular case, she did not consult Counsel Bacchus-Baptiste, “because as far as I am concerned, the matter does not concern counsel Bacchus-Baptiste”.
In response, Bacchus-Baptiste rose and said, “I don’t know why the DPP is so upset.”
The lawyer said she has held watching briefs for over 20 years in the court and it was the first time that she had had seen the prosecutor “so upset”.
Bacchus-Baptiste said that a watching brief assists the prosecution’s case.
She asked what would happen if John has a serious medical appointment on Nov. 11 and cannot attend court.
“I was just trying to avoid that conflict so there is no reason to get upset, ma’am. I am only here to assist,” Bacchus-Baptiste said.
The magistrate then called for John to stand in the other dock, across from Nelson and Morgan, and announced that all the matters would be adjourned to Nov. 10.
The DPP then asked the court to accommodate a change in venue to have the court sit in Calliaqua.