Attorneys-at-law Alair Shepherd QC and Ezra Alleyne would prefer that acting Magistrate Alliston Seale continue to hear the case against the Nation trio.
The attorneys made their feelings known in open court today, after they became aware that Seale would be leaving the bench tomorrow.
Shepherd told the court that although he was not certain whether it was “out of place”, he intended to write to the Judicial & Legal Services Commission, the body which appoints magistrates, to request that Seale be allowed to complete the case.
He reminded the District ‘A’ Magistrates’ Court that the Nation trial was scheduled to continue next week and Seale’s departure would mean that the case would have to be restarted.
Shepherd said he “would take some issue” if that were so and further, defence counsel was “entitled to written copies of the evidence taken so far” since they have to be able to challenge “any variance” in the future.
He added that having transcripts was “the only way to remove any doubt” which might occur.
Seale responded by saying that unless other measures were put in place, he would not be there but the date for the Nation trial would still stand. He added that his completing the matter would be in the interest of all parties – “the prosecution which spent hours preparing evidence and defence counsel who spent hours cross-examining”, but he would work with whatever decision was made.
Shepherd added that if Seale had received “short notice”, then that was “surely unacceptable for a judicial officer”.
He suggested that Seale should have been able to go through all of the preliminary inquiries which he started and be given time to complete them or hand them over.
Seale said he was “not leaving the jurisdiction. I am only returning to my substantive post.”
The acting magistrate explained that he was there “to serve the people of Barbados in whatever capacity” and he was therefore “just going back up to Culloden Road to do my duty up there also”.
Hoping that he was not speaking out of turn, Seale said he was “open to finishing” the inquiries which he has started and has “gone a good way into”.
“All of the arrangements were made in good faith” and as such, Seale told both Shepherd and Alleyne that he was willing to “act [as a magistrate] just for the purpose of finishing off”.
The lawyers were referring to the case against three employees of the Nation newspaper who pleaded not guilty to publishing an indecent photograph of two teens in 2013, while being employees of the Nation Publishing Company Limited.
The case against Vivian-Anne Lenora Gittens, 64, a publisher of #11 Kent, Christ Church, Roy Ricardo Morris, 54, of #118 Warrens Park South, St Michael and journalist Sanka Louis Price, from Corner of Derriston & Grazettes Main Road, St Michael is due to continue on June 4.
Acting Inspector Eustace Ifill is prosecuting the matter.