There has been yet another delay in the hearing of the lawsuit brought against the State by former murder accused Frank Errol Gibson.
This time, Gibson’s lead attorney, Larry Smith, has objected to the legal representative for the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) making oral submissions that madame Justice Pamela Beckles recuse herself from hearing the case.
Smith today insisted that a formal application must be made and simply making oral and/or written submissions was not enough.
Gibson is claiming damages in excess of $2 million in his lawsuit against the Office of the DPP and the Attorney General, as well as Dr Victor Eastmond, a principle witness in the murder case. He has alleged he was wrongfully charged, imprisoned and prosecuted for the 2002 murder of Francine Bolden. After Gibson was charged and placed on remand for the crime, DPP Charles Leacock, QC discontinued the case on November 8, 2012, on the grounds that there was insufficient evidence to make out a case beyond reasonable doubt.
At a hearing in the lawsuit in June 2016, when he was called before the court as a witness – a move he took strong objection to –, the DPP who is represented by Principal Crown Counsel Alliston Seale and Deputy Solicitor General Donna Brathwaite, QC, accused the judge of being bias in statements made and submitted that she should recuse herself.
Seale argued at a court hearing earlier this month, that the case could not proceed unless the issue of recusal and other matters raised at the previous hearing were heard.
Oral submissions were expected to be made this afternoon when the case came up again before Justice Beckles in the No. 8 Supreme Court, but Gibson’s attorney objected on the grounds that no application for recusal, neither formal nor informal, had been made by the DPP’s lawyers.
Smith argued that the nature of the application before the court “is a most serious allegation . . . [and] it cannot be whimsical”.
“There needs to be an application in writing . . . .There needs to be an affidavit in support [of the application],” he insisted.
However, Brathwaite argued otherwise. She said an oral application was made in the matter, which was “not objected to by the court”, and written submissions had also been made at the court’s request.
Smith countered that with no “formal application” on the issue of recusal before the court, “it cannot be now made at this point”.
Justice Beckles said the situation as it stands was “unfortunate” and stressed that the issue of recusal is “a most serious application before the court” that has to be dealt with.
“I am prepared to go ahead with it. . . .I need to see what they [the respondents] are saying. I need to know what I . . . [said] that was bias . . . so I could address it,” she said.
The judge then requested that the “proper application” be made before the court with the necessary affidavits.
The matter was then adjourned to June 22.