Prominent attorney Arthur Holder today charged that the country’s criminal justice system is in need of revamping and it has “to start with the police.”
An incensed Holder made the comment as he defended a Guyanese woman in the country illegally, who appeared in the District ‘A’ Magistrates’ Court charged with causing a disturbance in a public place.
Teri Alicia Forde, 30, of Barkers Road, Haggatt Hall, St Michael, and another Guyanese, Hedy Oneika Marques, who resides at Ski Hill, Boarded Hall, Christ Church, were jointly charged with creating a disturbance while on Wellington Street, The City, on May 13.
While Forde, who is represented by Arthur, pleaded guilty to the charge, Marques, who was represented by attorney Samuel Legay, denied the charge.
According to police prosecutor Sergeant Martin Rock, Forde was in the area of Asian Bar on Wellington Street when she got into an argument with another person. A fight ensued, which drew a large crowd. Police on patrol saw the crowd and enquired what was going on. The information they received led them to Forde and the other person who was interviewed, and they admitted that they were fighting. Both pointed to injuries and were taken to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital for treatment and later arrested.
However, Holder charged that the facts read by the prosecutor had some flaws.
“I want to know who sign the fact sheet . . . . I don’t want to bring tales out of school,” Arthur stated. “We have a criminal justice system that really wants revamping and it has to start with the police. That’s the only way the criminal justice system can be fair; it has to start with the police.”
He argued that the information read to the court was “really contrary”, contending that Forde was the one who called the police from her cellular phone and enquired if she could get the other person in the fight charged for the injuries she sustained.
“Something has to be wrong in our criminal justice system when because of a person’s status they have to plead guilty to avoid being remanded . . . and has to be deported . . . . That cannot be deemed to be dispensation of justice
. . . not in a CARICOM country, Ma’am. Somebody has to stand up and address it. That is unfair!
“One day coming soon, I might be in a position to really address that issue. I can say that unashamedly, because it ought not to continue happening in this country and we talking about CSME [CARICOM Single Market
and Economy]. It is not fair,” Arthur added.
Early in the case, an immigration officer had informed the court that Forde arrived in Barbados on March 12, 2015 and was granted a six-month stay. However, the officer also stated that there was no application on file showing that she had applied for an extension.
Marques, meantime, arrived on February 1 this year and was granted 14 days’ stay as a visitor. The officer also revealed that she had submitted an application for immigrant status on September 19, 2014, which was refused on December 2, 2014. She challenged the decision and is awaiting a ruling in the appeal.
Magistrate Cuffy-Sargeant granted Marques $2,000 bail with one surety. However, she must report to the Immigration Department every Monday before noon with valid identification and the Boarded Hall Police Station every Wednesday, also by noon. She returns to court on July 10.
Forde, meanwhile, was not so fortunate. She was immediately handed over to immigration officials.
She was reprimanded and discharged with no conviction recorded against her name.