Senior Magistrate Colin John has granted an application by lawyer Kay Bacchus-Baptiste that he recuses himself from hearing protest-related charged brought in 2021, when he was Commissioner of Police
Carly John, husband of opposition senator, Shevern John, is facing three charges over an incident in Kingstown in September 2021 in which a police officer placed him in a chokehold during a protest in the city.
Police have also charged Sherry-Ann Caine, who is alleged to have attempted to free John from the chokehold.
John was charged with resisting the arrest of Verrol Sam, he being a police officer acting in the due execution of his duty.
He was further charged that he assaulted Sam, he being a police officer acting in the due execution of his duty.
The third charge was that John assaulted Racquel Coombs, causing actual bodily harm, she being a police officer acting in the due execution of her duty.
Caine, a Georgetown resident, was charged with obstructing Sam, he being a police officer acting in the due execution of his duty.
On Tuesday, when the matter was called at the Kingstown Magistrate’s Court, Colin John, who was appointed Senior Magistrate on Dec. 1, 2023, after retiring early as police chief in August of that year, was presiding.
Bacchus-Baptiste was absent.
Prosecutor acting Corporal of Police Corlene Samuel told the court that she had read a letter from the defence counsel in which she claimed that she had not received disclosure.
The prosecutor said disclosure in the Caine matter was served on April 27, 2022 and for John, it was served at Bacchus-Baptiste’s chambers on Dec. 13, 2021.
“That is how long this matter was served and we were ready to proceed. And on each and every occasion we have received a letter from counsel saying she is not ready to proceed. This is an abuse of process,” the prosecutor said.
The senior magistrate responded:
“I will permit her, if she wishes to appear before me, to come to court to make submissions. So, I will stand down the matter until counsel comes to court, if she chooses to come to court.”
When Bacchus-Baptiste arrived sometime later, she told the magistrate she had written a letter regarding her clients’ matters and the magistrate confirmed that he had received the letters.
“So, what’s the position of the court?” Bacchus-Baptiste asked.
John asked her to state what her submission was.
The lawyer apologised for being late, saying that she had to go to the Calliaqua Magistrate’s Court.
She noted that John and Caine’s matters were before Ballah and she had intimated that she would be making certain submissions.
The lawyer said she had already made submissions in a case in relation to Adriana King and would be making the same submissions.
“The other reason is that I do not believe that you should be hearing these matters,” Bacchus-Baptiste continued.
“I didn’t think that I had to make the application,” she further told the chief magistrate.
“Why?” he responded.
“Because I thought you, of your own volition, in these matters, which were clearly political and police matters which you had an input in in bringing the charges that you would have done it without me having to ask you,” Bacchus-Baptiste said.
“So that’s why I put it like that. I don’t really want to have to ask you to recuse yourself from a matter like this.”
But the senior magistrate said, “Nothing is obvious in life, counsel.”
Bacchus-Baptiste said that she would disagree on that.
She said that the matters were before Magistrate John Ballah — who was sitting at the Kingstown Magistrate’s Court before the appointment of the senior magistrate.
The lawyer said Ballah has indicated that he would hear the matters and had already heard submissions on protest-related matters involving King.
Bacchus-Baptiste said she had made copious submissions in King’s matters and will make the same submissions in those involving John and Caine.
The senior magistrate granted the application and transferred the matter to the Calliaqua Magistrate’s Court for next Tuesday.
But while all of this was taking place, the defendants were not in the dock and were later called.
John then told them the essence of what had transpired and the decision that he had made to transfer the matters.
A number of defendants or their lawyers have made applications for the senior magistrate to recuse himself from hearing their matters because he was police chief when the charges were brought.
On Tuesday, an accused burglar, who was jointly charged with another man, made a similar application, which the senior magistrate granted.