The jury foreman in the Lusignan massacre trial, banned for life from jury duty after failing to disclose he was a long term client of Nigel Hughes, who was the attorney for one of the accused, was later a client of the chambers of current Attorney General Anil Nandlall, the AFC revealed yesterday.
This revelation does not change the fact that Hughes had represented Vernon Griffith over a six- year period, however the AFC released the information to make the case that Griffith had no reason to take a position that would have favoured Hughes, who is the party’s Chairman.
The acquittal of the accused in the trial is currently being appealed and the non-disclosure of Hughes’ lawyer-client relationship with Griffith is among the reasons cited by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).
Senior Counsel Bryn Pollard, in a recent letter published in Stabroek News, has argued that no defence counsel has an obligation to disclose an association with members of the jury that he represented. AFC leader Khemraj Ramjattan yesterday said that these sentiments were echoed by two prominent lawyers during a meeting of the Guyana Bar Association on Tuesday.
According to court documents released by the AFC yesterday, Nandlall’s chambers represented Griffith in a libel action he initiated against Eric Phillips for allegedly libeling him in a document titled “Report on Mr. Vernon Griffith.” The document was written by Phillips and published to Terry Thomas, Assistant General Manager of the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) on or about the 4th of January 2011.
Griffith also sued for further damages for alleged libel contained in a letter Phillips wrote and published to the then US Charge d’ Affairs Thomas Pierce and Curt Deitering, the Regional Security Officer, both of the Embassy of the United States in Georgetown.
In both instances, Griffith sought $1 million in damages and he further sought an injunction restraining Phillips, “his servants and/ or his agents or otherwise whomsoever,” from further publishing the alleged libel.
In these proceedings, Phillips was represented by Hughes while Griffith was represented by Nandlall’s chambers.
As a result, the AFC is arguing that though Griffith was represented by Hughes, in 2011 the two were on opposite sides and Griffith therefore had no reason to act in such a way so as to assist Hughes in the Lusignan massacre trial.