Magistrate calls judge gossip

| 13/05/2009

(CNS): During her evidence to the tribunal Chief Magistrate Margaret Ramsey-Hale said that Justice Priya Levers had apparently trashed her in every corner of the courthouse and was engaging in malicious gossip. The tribunal heard that in her statement Ramsey-Hale had said that almost as soon as Justice Levers arrived in the jurisdiction she began talking about people behind their backs and she said that the judge had criticized other judges.

Following the evidence of more court house witnesses on the fifth day of the hearing, further illustrating the differing opinions there regarding Levers behaviour, her authorship of the letters and her opinions of the chief justice, Ramsey-Hale took the stand and told the court that Levers was a frequent visitor to her own chambers, which was not unusual as they had known each other for many years.

Questioned by Timothy Otty, QC on behalf of the tribunal, Ramsey-Hale said that to begin with Levers’ remarks, while not complimentary, were not particularly significant.  “They were slighting glances, nothing in particular and I am hard pressed to recall the specifics, but she was not complimentary…they were merely throw away comments, nothing I would care to retain or recall,” she said, adding that it was not unusual for Levers to express her reservations about people, including her husband.

She told Otty that Levers began “ranting to her” about Chief Justice Anthony Smellie in mid 2007 following the memo he had sent to her regarding the complaints. Ramsey-Hale said Levers was upset by the events and was threatening to resign.

Otty asked Ramsey-Hale to recall a conversation with the CJ’s former secretary, Loraine Hennie, who had revealed to her that Justice Levers had made allegations about the magistrate. Ramsey-Hale said that Hennie came to her upset by what she had heard and that Justice Levers would say such things about her and Catherine Chesnut, the CJ’s Research Analyst. Ramsey-Hale said that this was when the gossip became quite acute. “It is an easy thing to allege against a professional women and to say you achieved your position in this way, and it hurt and I still feel it very keenly,” Ramsey-Hale said, referring to the allegations, the details of which were not revealed.

When Stanley Brodie QC began his cross examination of Ramsey-Hale’s witness statement, he asked her if she had a problem, which he did not specify but had been raised in another witness statement that he asked her to read. She then said that it was not correct. “Did you have a problem as demonstrated here?” he asked. In response Ramsey-Hale told him to stop avoiding the issue.

“Mr Brodie, if the question is about me stopping drinking and domino playing then let us stop dancing around the issue,” she said, admitting that she had played dominoes in Sunset House and she had stopped drinking for a while to help her quit social smoking. She said she was not sick and it was not true that she had had to “straighten out".

Brodie then questioned her about the issue that the gossip was hearsay and not based on anything Levers had said to her directly, which she admitted and explained that her witness statement was based on what people had told her that Levers had said. Ramsey-Hale said she had pressed people further on many occasions to be more specific about what Levers had supposedly said about her but most were reluctant. She said they would not elaborate and no one wanted to remember. “I am stymied because she never said anything to me that was unkind,” she said, adding that she was hearing from others what was reportedly being said.

Brodie then asked her about Levers recommending her for a position heading up a family court in Jamaica which Ramsey-Hale said they had certainly discussed.”Did you not think that a kindthing, that she must have a good estimation of you?" Brodie enquired.

Ramsey-Hale then said that Levers could be extremely charming. “I don’t why she would propose me, having apparently trashed me in every corner of the courthouse,” Ramsey Hale added, and when Brodie suggested it was inconsistent with the reports, Ramsey-Hale pointed out that she did not think it was inconsistent with Levers’ personality.  “She chose her opinions of me when it suited her.”

The magistrate admitted when questioned that she did not feel she had been advanced enough in the jurisdiction, but said it was no secret that she felt ready to move upward. Brodie asked why she was not prepared to give credit when Levers was trying to help her. “I view the offer as an exercise of charm,” she said, adding that while it was genuine she didn’t know quite why, given the disparaging remarks as well as her alleged criticisms of the appeals against Ramsey-Hale’s decisions.

Moving on to other submissions she said she disagreed with recollections of Mr Hamilton QC as cited in his witness statement and denied  creating or spreading gossip herself as suggested by Brodie.

Following Ramsey-Hale, Karin Thompson, an attorney who was named as the person whom Elizabeth Webb, Justice Levers’ former secretary, said she sent a copy of Justice Sanderson’s expenses via e-mail on the instructions of the judge. Thompson categorically denied ever receiving such an email and said there was no reason why she ever would. She also denied being alone in Justice Levers’ chambers’ discussing the chief justice, as Hennie had alleged in her earlier evidence.

She said she had a good relationship with Justice Levers and explained that for a period of time she was in close discussions with the judge as she had agreed to help the Cayman Islands Health Practitioners Board, of which she was member, draft new legislation regarding organ transplants for the country. She said there were very few occasions that she was alone with Levers for any other reason in her chambers. She said she had never engaged in discussions about the Canadian judges and knew nothing about the letters or the court room petition as alleged by another witness. She said while Justice Levers had certainly ruled against her over the years, Thompson said she never had any doubt about her integrity or ability as a judge.

The last witness of the day was Christopher Levers, the judge’s son who confirmed that his mother had never asked him to type anything until recently when he had helped her prepare for this tribunal, contrary to the evidence offered by Webb who had said that the judge had called and asked her son to type the ‘Leticia Barton’ letter.  An attorney himself, due to start work shortly with Walkers Christopher, Levers said he was unaware of the letters until the governor called the tribunal. When Otty presented him with the Webb evidence over the telephone call and the request that he type a letter, he said, “I can only say my mother has never asked me to type anything and I’m surprised that Elizabeth Webb would make such an allegation.”

Concluding the days proceedings, Otty said that the first witness on Wednesday would be Desmond Seales, the owner and Editor of Cayman Net News, which published the now infamous serious of letters criticizing the Cayman Islands judiciary, followed by Barry Randall, also from Net News, before the chief justice is expected to take the stand.

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Comments (23)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Now we all know what the great, wonderful judiciary is all about and it boils down to one thing .. they are all human, make mistakes like the rest of us, are not above the law (as some there seemed to think!) and yes, even they can be criticised .. AND the amusing part is that they are creating their own scandal, not the rest of us lowly souls who would be prosecuted if we ever even though of criticising them in anyway. Oh how things have changed! God laughs at folly too!

  2. durrrr says:

    who judges the judges?

     

    The Court Reporters, obv.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Why didn’t the Chief Justice, like any good boss just sit these women down and have them air out their differences. I would in my business. It is ridiculous that because he can’t handle rumors and innuendo at his office that it had to be raised to this level and waste the people’s money. it is quite obvious that he has no control over these women and would rather let someone else handle it.  The stories so far would be laughable if they weren’t costing us so much.

  4. Anon says:

    Let the sexism begin: 

    What’s the best way to a man’s heart? Straight through his freakin’ ribcage!  (that’s gotta hurt)

  5. Pale Rider says:

    "So FemaleJudge, Female…take your neanderthal thinking and go. Do not use this case to insult this community.

    GFYS mr ugly and very foriegn

    You not gone yet?"

     

    WOW!!!  Just goes to show…You had me on your side right up until the end when YOU showed your ignorance…..was this really necessary to make your point???    I think not…  Why would someone who is articulate and presented a GREAT argument have to resort to this???   You wonder why they mock and disrespect us???  

    • Anonymous says:

      Women and gossip are like hand and glove. Glove stays put without hand, but once entered into by hand goes far and wide.     

    • Anonymous says:

      Anyone who thinks this is just about females gossiping has absolutely no idea of the dysfunctional reality of the running of the Judiciary for several years now. They told everyone they walked on water and couldn’t be held accountable for anything as they were protected by the Constitution (the reason for this Enquiry). Now we see when the wigs and gowns are hung up, they are nothing special.

      • Anonymous says:

        Thank you for highlighting this, 

        "Anyone who thinks this is just about females gossiping has absolutely no idea of the dysfunctional reality of the running of the Judiciary for several years now." 

        The fact that this inquiry is now being carried out and not to mention the CJ’s reluctance to even testify is testimony to the state of the affairs in that department. Shameful is my descriptive.

  6. Anonymous says:

    who judges the judges?

  7. What did the five fingers say to the face? says:

    If this is all the fault of a few women, why not just ship them all out and bring in a few of these guys instead. Soon straighten things out!

    http://edition.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/meast/05/10/saudi.court.wife.slapping/index.html

  8. Mr. Anonymous says:

    1)" Female Judge, female magistrate…"

    I know these people and don’t believe for a second that their gender has anything to do with this.  With one notable exception (in my opinion), they are all discharging their duties to the community in an admirable and honourable way.  Suggesting that this is an issue of sex insults women generally and makes us, meaning the male half of the species, look rather rude and stupid (yes, I do presume you are male, rightfully or otherwise). 

    Thanks for making us look like a bunch of morons, YFJA.

    2) "GFYS mr ugly and very foriegn"

    "GFYS"… hilarious!  Good butt-chewing!!!

  9. Anonymous says:

    Can’t believe we are really wasting millions of dollars to listen to a bunch of women bitch about each other.  This type of crap goes on in every business or work environment.  Imagine if everyone that had a complaint against someone at work could have a tribunal hearing…Absolutely Ridiculous!!

    • anonymous says:

      Amen.

       

      No wonder cost of living is so high.  We are all paying for it.

    • Anonymous says:

      "Women have very little idea of how much men hate them", Germaine Greer, 1987.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Not a conicindence at all my friend.

  11. Anonymous says:

    That observation "Female Judge, Female 07:38 is offensive, chuvanist, sexist, hints at a woman hater as the author.

    The story includes both genders. 

    We will not apologise being a community where women have held positions of trust with responsibility and have had parity for many years ahead of other jurisdictions considered superior, including where you are from.

    We will not apologise for having a greater proportion than most  of qualified female who have managed to attain high postitions of trust in the Cayman Islands. 

    Your kind of thinking is a push back to another era, and we (men and women) will push back on your diseased thinking.

    Male dominated any where is on its way out, all be it slowly.

    Parity in this community has been erroded over the last 20 years by pressing cultural (ugly a…)attitudes from the out side carried by people such as the writer. This has been one of the prices of opening up our borders, growing unchecked so quickly, to the point where gains in the early 80’s (where women having  qualified dominated mid throughhigher level occupations across the board excepting MLA seats in this country). 

    The male redomination started foaming and roaring late 80’s through now, as firms grew and small thinking seeped in with people who came infected with feelings of domination, and cultural dissaffection for women equipped and empowered got a roost here.

    Before this time we had our problems but now where near the epidemic we suffer now. Men respected the progress and partneship evident in an orderly society set on the verge of prosperity.

    What is happening now in the Levers case is not a reflection of woman in the halls of power. But people in dissonace. 

    So Female Judge, Female…take your neanderthal thinking and go. Do not use this case to insult this community.

    GFYS mr ugly and very foriegn

    You not gone yet?

     

    • Anonymous says:

      To: Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 05/13/2009 – 12:00

      I merely asked the question. The lady doth protest too much, methinks.

  12. Twyla M Vargas says:

    I,VE GOT TO WRITE THAT BOOK.

    Oh!, the title, darn it I keep changing it!!!.        Not  "Secretary and the Judge"    No, lets see, Ummmmmmm

    Ok "Fox in the Hen House"    No?   Ummmmmmm  "Judical Ghost"   No, No, No, Ummmmm

    Help me out here.

    • Twyla M Vargas says:

      YES!!!!

      I finally got it ‘ 

      Suspense Thriller

                by

      Twyla Vargas 

      "MYSTERY OF THE WIG AND THE GOWN"

      • Anonymous says:

        Lol Twyla – you are right on the button girl. And to think, some of these are  the "superior minds" who judge the rest of us mortals out here. Quite a thought to ponder I’d say.

        • Anonymous says:

          So we find out judges are as mortal as everyone else.  That’s a revelation!

          In my experience as a manager I have found that someone who is determined to undermine and cause trouble can create a nightmare.  This is especially true in the civil service where bosses have to go through all types of hoops to get rid of difficult staff.

          I can imagine how heartsick this has made people involved.   

           

           

  13. Anonymous says:

    Female Judge, female magistrate, female court reporters, female secretaries. Is it coincidence that all the key players in this account of courthouse office politics are women?