A lawsuit brought against the Attorney General and Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) by a former murder accused, did not get any further Thursday after the Crown’s attorneys failed to complete written submissions to support their argument that the judge hearing the matter should recuse herself.
And the judge herself, Madam Justice Pamela Beckles, described the situation as “disheartening”, given that the Crown had been given several months to make the submissions.
When the matter in which Frank Errol Gibson is claiming more than $2 million in damages came up for hearing in the No. 8 Supreme Court Thursday, Principal Crown Counsel Aliston Seale argued that the case could not proceed unless the issues raised at the last hearing, including for the judge to recuse herself from the matter, were heard.
Gibson is suing the State for breach of his constitutional rights, claiming that he had been wrongfully charged, imprisoned and prosecuted. After spending a decade on remand for the murder of Francine Bolden, who was killed sometime between January 15 and 16, 2002, Gibson was released from prison when DPP Charles Leacock Q.C. discontinued the case against him on the grounds that there was insufficient evidence to make out a case beyond reasonable doubt.
Last June, Leacock took serious issue with an order to appear in court in connection with the lawsuit, saying that the court had been “misled” in issuing the witness summons. The DPP said he also had “no confidence” in Justice Beckles to continue with the trial, after she had made certain comments and submitted that she recuse herself from the proceedings.
Seale, who is representing Leacock, along with Deputy Solicitor General Donna Brathwaite Q.C, told the judge Thursday that although submissions had been filed they were “incomplete”, as there was no reference to the cost factor which the court had asked the defendant to address, or the submission made by the DPP requesting the judge to recuse herself from the proceedings.
“We cannot get past anything else in this court . . . if [those] matters are not dealt with first and foremost,” Seale said as he requested an adjournment in the case so his side could be allowed to file the other submissions.
The Crown Counsel, who accepted full responsibility for the delay, explained that he had not been able to devote time to the case to properly prepare, as he had been involved in another matter for the last three months.
However, Gibson’s lead attorney Larry Smith said Seale’s explanation was “unacceptable” as the DPP “has at his disposal, the entire office of the Solicitor General and the entire office of the Director of Public Prosecutions in this matter”.
“There can be no excuse . . . for not having the documents prepared . . . . The fact that he was in a trial is of no consequence for not being ready in relation to having submissions before the court in a timely fashion,” Smith argued.
On the issue of the recusal, he submitted that, in his opinion, it had been settled when the Deputy Solicitor General said she had no difficulty with Justice Beckles continuing the case.
Smith said that he found it “disingenuous” for the matter to be raised again.
However, Seale made it clear that it was still “a live issue”.
“Because our client is dissatisfied and if our client is dissatisfied we have to take his instructions,” he said.
While Justice Beckles agreed with Seale that the issue of recusal was not dead as Smith had argued, she expressed her displeasure that the relevant submissions had not yet been made.
“[It] is very disheartening, to see that . . . for close to some six months, nothing has been done in this matter. That is not in the interest of justice,” the judge said as she adjourned the case to May 22, for the necessary submissions to be filed.