Attorney General Basil (AG) Williams SC yesterday called on the Guyana Bar Association to condemn comments directed at the judiciary by attorney Anil Nandlall following the recent ruling in the challenge to the appointment of the Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM).
“As Attorney General, I fully support objective comments on judgements handed down by the courts, but these must be measured and respectful without seeking to scandalise the court by describing its decision as political…and the judges who made the decision as immature. This amounts to personal invective and abuse of the judges,” Williams said in a statement issued last evening.
Williams made specific reference to comments reported in some sections of the media, in which Nandlall expressed disappointment at the ruling before launching what he characterised as an “attack” on the judiciary. Nandlall subsequently wrote a letter expanding on the issue, which appeared in yesterday’s edition of this newspaper.
Nandlall, the former AG, made the contentious remarks in an invited comment moments after the Court of Appeal dismissed his challenge to a ruling made earlier this year by Chief Justice (ag) Roxane George on President David Granger’s unilateral appointment of retired judge James Patterson as GECOM Chairman.
The Appeal Court last Thursday upheld the decision.
Acting Chancellor Yonette Cummings-Edwards and Justices of Appeal Rishi Persaud and Dawn Gregory heard the appeal.
In an almost three-hour-long ruling, the court disagreed with arguments that President Granger’s resort to the constitutional proviso in Article 161 (2) for the unilateral appointment of Patterson was unlawfully invoked and resultantly dismissed the appeal brought by PPP Executive Secretary Zulfikar Mustapha. Nandlall, who represented Mustapha, has since signalled his intention to take the matter to the Caribbean Court of Appeal, Guyana’s final Appeal Court.
Williams, in his press statement yesterday, said that he was “affronted by the reckless and churlish attack” on the judiciary by Nandlall following his loss of the appeal case.
“…His crude assault on members of the judiciary—three of whom are women—must be roundly condemned,” he said.
The AG stressed that the statements, when taken with his labelling of the learned Justice George-Wiltshire’s ruling as “being adventurous” in the Court of Appeal, and describing two Barbadian Queen’s Counsel senior to him as “aliens,” aptly sum up Nandlall’s disrespect.
It was pointed out that it has not escaped the AG’s attention that over the years, Nandlall has been given great latitude by the court and over time, has become discourteous and disrespectful.
Williams touched on a previous incident between himself and High Court judge Franklin Holder, whom he was accused of threatening.
“It was Mr Nandlall who last year ran out of the High Court and falsely accused the Attorney General of threatening to kill a sitting judge, which turned out to be completely untrue, yet he was allowed to escape sanction by the court,” the statement said.
The incident reportedly occurred during Carvil Duncan’s challenge to his suspension as Public Service Commission Chairman. In the end, Justice Holder recused himself from hearing the matter.
According to the AG’s statement, for a man who has been claiming that other people are losing cases, Nandlall “seems to have suffered a complete meltdown on losing another major case. Perhaps this experience in losing this case …should enlighten him that in the practice of law before the courts you win some and you lose some.”
Williams said that as the Head of the Bar, he condemns the attorney’s behaviour and expressed hope that “the usual commentators and the Guyana Bar Association will see it fit to do same.”