Judiciary to pronounce on AG’s encounter with judge – acting Chancellor

Justice Franklin Holder has given a statement pertaining to the conduct of Attorney-General Basil Williams SC in his courtroom last week, according to acting Chancellor Yonette Cummings-Edwards, who yesterday said that the judiciary would pronounce on the issue soon.

“I am in receipt of information in relation to that matter and the matter is currently being address-ed,” Justice Cummings-Edwards told reporters shortly after her swearing-in yesterday.

“An official report will be given to the press as soon everything is completed… within a matter of days,” she added.

The now acting Chancellor explained that she was briefed on the matter in her capacity as acting Chief Justice.

All of the judges of the Supreme Court attended a meeting last Friday morning for about half an hour but no statement was made.

Stabroek News was told that the Williams issue was discussed and it was following this meeting that a unanimous decision was taken to write to President David Granger on the matter.

The Attorney General was accused by his predecessor, attorney Anil Nandlall, of threatening Justice Holder last Thursday, during a hearing involving suspended Chairman of the Public Service Commission Carvil Duncan.

But Williams denied that he threatened the judge and announced that he would take legal action over the claim and reportage on it. He specifically said that his lawyers were preparing to write letters to the two newspapers that published the allegations without speaking to him.

Observers have, however, noted that even in his own rendering of the events of the day in question, Williams’ words did not comport with what was expected from the Attorney General, Minister of Legal Affairs and the Leader of the Bar.

Williams told a press conference on Friday that when Justice Holder indicated that he was going to adjourn the matter, he asked whether he could be permitted to ask Duncan’s confidential secretary one final question.

He was permitted to do so. According to Williams, after noticing that the judge was about to leave the bench, he enquired whether the answer to the last question was recorded. “The judge to my surprise said, ‘Mr Williams you are not in charge of my court.’ And I said, ‘No sir’ …but the judge then said to me ‘Mr Williams I interpret what you are saying to mean that I deliberately did not record the answer that was given by the witness previously and I take great umbrage at that.’ And I said, ‘Sir, surely that is not on your record, because I never said anything to that effect or intended anything like that,’” he explained.

Williams recalled that he told the judge that his comments reminded him of a similar allegation made against him by a magistrate several years ago.

“He [the magistrate] cited me for contempt and the rest is history. And I said that since then I have always been very particular about what I say to the courts and to be precise so that nothing else like that could return and I said coincidentally that magistrate is dead now and I moved on,” he said.

Nandlall said the judge subsequently left the bench without adjourning the proceedings or setting a date for continuation.

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