Alex Moore back as magistrate after probe

Magistrate Alex Moore who was suspended from the bench last November following a complaint of inappropriate behaviour made by an East Coast Demerara businesswoman, has been reinstated by the Judicial Service Commis-sion (JSC) following an inquiry.

The JSC in a press release yesterday announcing its decision said that it must be noted that the woman’s version as presented before the commission differed from what was carried in the press.

Stabroek News was unable to contact Magistrate Moore for a comment.

The statement said that the Commission recently concluded an inquiry into a number of matters concerning the performance of Magistrate Moore at the Sparendaam Magistrate’s Court. The only matter listed in the statement was the complaint made by the businesswoman Seeojine Singh.

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It said that Magistrate Moore was afforded a “full hearing” before the Commission. One of the issues investigated by the Commission, it said involved a complaint by “a Ms. Seerojine Singh whose complaint was widely reported in the print media”. The JSC said that Singh had an audience before the Commission and was also fully heard.

“Given the representations made to it by Ms. Singh, the Commission is of the considered view that in relation to Ms. Singh’s complaint no further action or intervention against or with Magistrate Moore is warranted”, the statement said before adding that it should be pointed out that the account provided by Singh of her experience at the Sparendaam Magistrate’s Court “differed in material respects from the report carried in certain sections of the print media”. The JSC did not elaborate.

The statement said that in relation to all other maters which engaged the attention of the Commission concerning Magis-trate Moore, “the Commission was generally satisfied with the responses provided by Magistrate Moore thereto. As a consequence, Magistrate Moore has been reinstated to the Magisterial Bench”.

Moore was sworn in as a temporary magistrate in 2011.

Following his suspension, Stabroek News had made contact with JSC member retired Justice Prem Persaud who would only say that Moore was removed from the bench over the allegation made by Singh.

Singh had said that she had suffered torment and embarrassment at the hands of the magistrate when she appeared before him to answer a cross charge of using abusive language. She wrote to the Chancellor of the Judiciary about the matter and this led to the magistrate’s suspension.

Magistrate Moore attended the inquiry for the first time last Wednesday and the closed door hearing lasted for a few hours.

Moore’s time on the bench has been marred by controversy particularly when he gave a drug trafficker a suspended prison sentence.

Shortly before his suspension Moore handed down a five- year suspended sentence to Leonard Bacchus moments after he acknowledged ownership of nearly 150 pounds of cocaine which was found in his Enmore home back in 2011. Moore also granted Bacchus a two-year suspended sentence for possessing 125 12-gauge shotgun cartridges and 115 .32 rounds of ammunition without a licence.

Bacchus, during the final hearing of his matter was ordered by the court to pay a fine of $2 million. His lawyer James Bond had proposed $2.5 million. Had the magistrate applied the relevant section of the law, the fine would have been $201.88 million or an alternative sentence which would be in addition to the jail time he would have been serving. Magistrate Moore gave Bacchus up to June 30, 2015 to pay the fine.

The State has signaled its intention to appeal the suspended sentences. Many in the legal fraternity questioned the sentencing and made it clear that the magistrate acted outside the law.

When news of his suspension became public it was reported that how he handled the drug matter was also being looked at. A source close to the JSC had told Stabroek News that while there was no formal complaint about the sentencing, it was something that the JSC was aware of.

The source had given the impression that this was one of the matters that would have been looked at by the five-man commission.

Two other magistrates – Geeta Chandan-Edmond and Chandra Sohan who were under investigation by the JSC were sacked last month.

 

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