Privy Council says judge misbehaved

| 29/07/2010

(CNS): The UK Privy Council has found that the Cayman Islands Grand Court Judge, Justice Priya Levers did misbehave and should be removed from the bench. The judicial committee’s judgment, which was posted on the court’s website Thursday, states that “fatal flaws in a judicial career that has had many admirable features” led to the committee’s conclusion to recommend her removal. The Privy Council said that Levers made comments in court “which ranged from the inappropriate to the outrageous about those who appeared before her, and to her own colleagues.”  The governor’s office said Thursday afternoon that it had the report and the governor (who is currently off island) will make an announcement shortly.

The court said it was most concerned that Levers had given the appearance of racism, bias against foreigners and bias in favour of the defence in criminal cases.

Based on the findings of the tribunal that was held in the Cayman Islands in May last year and its report, which came before the Privy Council in June of this year, the senior judges found that one comment Levers had made about her judicial colleagues did constitute misconduct and comments in court were misbehaviour. But the judges also criticised the tribunal for its comments about Levers before the Privy Council had reviewed the case.

“The castigation of the conduct of Madam Justice Levers in extreme terms in the executive summary of its Report was not appropriate as it might irreparably have damaged her reputation before her conduct had been appraised by the Board,” the committee said.
In its conclusion, however, the committee explained that while Levers had many “admirable qualities” and set“high standards”, those high standards were part of her downfall and the board was satisfied that comments made by the judge were enough to recommend an end to her judicial position in Cayman.
“Levers J has high standards and shows strong disapproval for those whom she does not consider measure up to them,” the committee said in it is conclusion of the case against Levers. “That disapproval has extended both to some who have appeared in her court and to her own colleagues. Unfortunately she has not kept that disapproval to herself.”
The committee said that Levers’ disapproval and inappropriate comments appear to have been directed predominantly against women, and particularly women from outside the Cayman Islands, but said it would not be right to deduce from those instances any race or gender bias on the part of Levers.
“By the time that the Chief Justice had prepared his memorandum of 24 May 2007 these comments had cumulatively amounted to misbehaviour justifying the removal of Levers J from the bench,” the judges said, adding that removal would have been justified by her comments in one court case alone. “Anyone who heard those comments could justifiably have concluded that a judge who behaved in this way should not be permitted to continue to sit.”
The Privy Council noted that the chief justice had not considered referring her conduct to the governor at that point but had sent the memo to the judge in the hope that it would lead her to avoid such behaviour in the future.
“Unfortunately this hope was not fulfilled. Levers J accepted that her comments … had been inappropriate, although she argued that they had been misconstrued, but she did not accept that apart from these two incidents the Chief Justice’s criticism was justified.”
The committee said Levers believed she was being unfairly victimized, which soured her relationship with the chief justice, who she regularly disparaged, along with other judicial colleagues, in private conversations to an extent that constituted misconduct.
“In the eyes of the Board, Levers J continued to behave in a manner that was unacceptable in the performance of her judicial duties,” the committee said in its judgment, adding that in three cases Levers’ behaviour amounted to serious misconduct.
“They have been fatal flaws in a judicial career that has had many admirable features,” the top judges stated in the conclusion, adding that they were satisfied that Levers was not fit to continue to serve as a judge of the Grand Court.
It will now be in the hands of Duncan Taylor, the Cayman Islands governor, to officially remove Levers from office.  The judge was first suspended in September in 2008 by the former governor, Stuart Jack.
Among the accusations made against Levers was that she wrote a series of letters published in Cayman Net News criticising the judiciary as a whole under a number of pseudonyms. However, Levers denied the accusation, and after hearing evidence the tribunal also concluded it was very unlikely that she was behind the correspondence.
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  1. Re says:

    Can anyone tell me what impact this will have on justice in the Cayman Islands=0. What a bunch of absolute rubbish, all this time and money spent on a squabble at the court house. The behavior of all concerned is rather troubling. Who is working the thumbs department very concerted effort to manipulate opinion on here, they surely have a lot of time on their hands. i hope i get some of their attention 25 thumps down and 22 thumps up please. Oh the wrath of a wicked mind as it seeps of its hatred and animosity. What has happen to our little island?

  2. Anonymous says:

    No one has won with this, least of all the Cayman Islands with this coming on the heels of other botched enquiries.

    What should have happened is that she should have been paid off for the balance of her contract sent on her way, and everyone called it a day.

    Let us hope that any future situations with anyone in such a position will be handled better. Is not there more pressing issues of maladministration by others who need to go and are allowed to hang on?


  3. Anonymous says:

    I feel very sorry for Priya Levers. Working as a professional on a small island where you have no privacy is very difficult, which is why most lawyers on small islands learn to keep their own counsel (literally).

    She was perhaps very sick and in pain-and the Privy Council alluded to as much in their decision. I do not live in Cayman but it seems emotions were running high around her.

    She had a 43-year career but said that being a Judge in Cayman was the pinnacle of her career. Which makes what happened to her just terrible.

    Yes, I do think she was injudicious. But she has been hung out to dry.

    Had I been in her shoes I would have gracefully and quietly resigned and gone on elsewhere. I truly think that she must have a lot of love for Cayman and I thank God that there is no place that I love more than my own well-being.

    I wish her good health and good luck and I encourage others not to judge her.

    You never know, this could happen to you.

  4. Anonymous says:

    How many cases did she do? How many of her cases were over turned? How does she compare with the other sitting Judges with her cases?

    I guess I need to understand why her big mouth makes her an unfit Judge?  I need to know where she wronged our people who appeared before her and not those who lost their case.

    Was her ruling overturned in the cases mentioned in the PC long ruling?  I also fail to see where she was allowed to ammend her ways.  SHe was put on "leave" days after she was written to.

    How many of you would like to be in her shoes for your personality which was evident before she was hired.  I see unfair process being justified in the end.  It is the process I question.  If she was denied natural justice, what happens to others in court?  Too afraid to speak up?

  5. Anon says:

    How about addressing the substance rather than the style of the post? Is it that you want to evade the substance?

  6. anonymous says:

    What this woman should have done was confess her wrongs, apoloigze, change her ways and then maybe she could have kept her job. but there was no humility.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Go and read the comments under Andre Iton’s View Point article … it is not only Levers guilty of misbehaving in government!!

  8. Anonymous says:

    A couple of years ago there were rumours of at least one other "misbehaving" judge. In fact the court room behaviour was not only akin to Levers but there were other very concerning rumours of other "misbehaviour".  Yet he was seemingly allowed to quietly depart the post and no doubt collect an impressive pension package, after treating many innocent persons in a similar or worse manner than Levers. In the fact of what has taken place with Levers it begs to question why was that person allowed to get away so easily.

  9. Just curious says:

    1. Has she been on full salary while all this un-folded? 

    2. Now that she has been found unfit to sit as judge will she have to repay that salary?

    3. That would make common sense.

        a.  She has done nothing to earn that salary.

        b.  The findings of the Privy Council now leave costly appeals very likely as the judge has been shown to be prejudicial.

         c.  For which the public will have to pay the costs.

         d.  As well as having paid her salary during her tenure and while the investigation went forward.


    If she is not required to pay back her salary…..why not?

    • Justus says:

      My question is did the lads pay anything back or were they sent home with a golden handshake for a job well done.My finally point is who did more damage to the Cayman islands? Was there any investigations/tribunals carried out into those matters.  Oh how we suffer from memory loss on this little island

  10. Anonymous says:

    So sad to have one’s professional career marred like this!

  11. anonymous says:

    People complain about the actions of some police officers, immigration officials, bosses, etc. all the time.  Where does that get them???  Not a trick question – gets them nowhere.  Do you still think that P. Levers lost her job because of the complaints of some people?  Connect the dots… Btw, a file can be built against anyone…  Mr/Ms X came in 1 minute late today, took an extra 2 minutes for lunch, made a derogatory comment about the wages that (s)he’s being paid, and farted really loudly as the boss walked past her.

  12. Anonymous says:

    “PC finds Judge unfit for Office” is what headline should have read.

    Surely “misbehaved” is not an accurate word here after reading that report. What’s up with that?

    • Anonymous says:

      A good point. That tone does not reflect the severity of what was proven.

    • Anonymous says:

      "Misbehavior"is,indeed an accurate terrm. If you study Constitutional Law you will realize that the term used is that the high court Judges "Hold their offices during good  behavior" Once a presentation is made th the Lord Chancellor that a senior judge is not in good behavior he can avise Her majesty as Head of the Judiciary and he/she will be terminated. "misbehaviour" is the term used.

    • Anonymous says:

      "Misbehaved" is, I believe, a word used in the Constitution about judges, auditor generals and these other saints that we voters have no say in.

    • Anonymous says:

      I agree – the report is nothing short of shocking.  I hope that those who are blogging will take the time to read the Privy Council’s report.

    • Anon says:

      Section 93 of the Constitution provides that "a judge of the Grand Court may be removed from office only for inability to discharge the functions of his or her office (whether arising from infirmity of body or mind or any other cause) or for MISBEHAVIOUR".

      The word "misbehaved" is therefore appropriate.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Having read the judgment in full (unlike many of CNS’ posters I’m sure), does anyone get the sense that the Privy Council was reticent to remove her? For someone who apparently behaved so badly, the Board has said the following: 1) She’s had, in parts, an admirable judicial career, 2) she has very high standards for behaviour and is to commended for that, 3) she is a sound lawyer and 4) where she fell into error was not that she was disapproving of the practice of her fellow judges and magistrates but that she made those flaws public by discussing them.

    In fact, the PC scolded the Tribunal for their excessive use of intemperate language and chastised them for coming to some very wrong conclusions. For someone who is apparently the scourge of the judicial system according to some of the posters here, the report was very complimentary in areas.


    • Anonymous says:

      I’ve read it too and no they were not reticent about the removal -I can’t see how you view it that way – but typically of lawyers/judges about themselves they always cover it up with the "what a shame it all went tits up" stuff. Read their dismissal of Derek Schofield (and his wife) in Gibralter (yes he was another one of our brilliant appointments in Cayman).

    • Man says:

      You are very presumptions to open with your statement of being one of the few CNS posters to read the report in full. I also disagree with your other conclusion, ALL of those statements by the PC is correct and demonstrated in the reports evidence. My conclusions? She had high standards for herself and no tolerance for others that did not demonstrate the same. That was where she eared, she has no right to demand or expect others to live according to her preceived work standards.

    • Slowpoke says:

      Read it again.  

      Although I had nothing but positive dealings with her, the divisive interactions and evident bias she demonstrated with colleagues, plaintiffs, defendants… was not acceptable at a Grand Court Judge level (she may be an excellent Crown Counsel or defense lawyer, where she can assert a particular point of view).

      Smart people can have impaired judgment and make poor decisions. Unfortunately, she was promoted to a position for which she was not suitable.

      Also, in regards to John’s comments, I think that the Tribunal was simply trying to be as objective and discriminate as possible.  There was in fact substantial evidence as to where the letters were drafted…

  14. John Evans says:

    The irony is that Priya Levers was brought down by something she actually didn’t do.

    The source of the Net News letters remains, and following Mr Seales untimely demise is likely to remain, a mystery.

    My evidence on this was aired at the tribunal, they accepted it and I stand by it, but it would be interesting to find out exactly what went on; who tried to place the blame for those letters on Levers and why all trace of them conveniently disappeared – or would that be venturing into matters best left alone?

    • Anonymous says:

      Ay John, I think we know the answers to those questions but unfortunately were never able to prove them. Most unfortunate that the real corruption was never brought to light. But then again…….?

    • Anonymous says:

      With ‘insider’ knowledge – Lever did not write the letter. Someone else in her office, below  her – who regularly wrote anonymous letters to the papers – wrote the letter. Levers probably knew nothing about it. And they were not intending to cause problems for Levers – just air thier discontent with the Legal Department.

      I can only comment on that one aspect of the case against her.



    • Anon says:


      As I understand it the Net News letters did not bring down Madam Justice Levers. The Tribunal found that it was very unlikely that she had written them. 

      Personally I believe what brought her down were her comments in relation to Ms. Chestnut’s appointment and the idea that she had started the petition in the courts office.      

  15. Anonymous says:
    Having read the examples given in the judgement I am absolutely flabbergasted.  What a relief that she has been removed. If only it could have happened sooner. A judge so clearly biased can cause havoc to a community.
    Some of the things she said would have been considered hateful and spiteful if they had muttered as part of a gossip in a coffee shop.  But the fact that so many of these things weresaid in open court is incredible. She should be ashamed of herself.
    Well done to those who, in vulnerable positions, still had the guts to stand up for what is right. 
    • Anonymous says:

      Who are these persons in vulnerable positions? The persons who acted with impunity because they knew they had the backing of the Chief Justice who everyone knows disliked Levers? Its not too courageous to back the boss in a disagreement with his subordinate.

    • Anonymous says:

      what troubles me is single comments taken from various cases does not provide an accurate view of what was taken place in the court room.  It seems like every case has to have the loser and nobody likes to lose but they generally make a lot of noise about it.  But to arbitrarily use bits and pieces to condemn seems wrong.  I for one would not like to go to court here with so much obvious bias opinions.

      The next thing is so much time was spent on one persons "evidence" which was all disregarded.  But how was this evidence gleaned?  By snooping and putting her own opinion to what she found simply because she did not like her?  How can this be considered "guts for standing up for what is right"?  I hope all of you who are celebrating can go to work and don’t have to worry about your things being searched, copied, and used as evidence against you based on someone’s opinion who does not like you.

      I always heard "hear-say don’t holdup in court", but it does in Cayman apparently.  I still say what has transpired could have been handled internally if those in charge had common sense and was not looking for sensationalism.  This is very bad for Cayman internationally.

      So who is going to take the fall for the Judicial breaking the law as reported by their Audit?  Or somehow that was Judge Levers fault too?  I’m sorry but Cayman Judicial system seems to be in a mighty fine mess, but woe unto anyone who points it out!!



  16. My2cents says:

    It is warming to know the much-respected UK institution such as the Privy Counsel is still the final backstop for what happens here.

    For everyone claiming the UK does not have our interests at heart, or worse are crying out for independence, imagine how this matter might have turned out if we did not have help of these venerable institutions of the UK to support us.

    • Anon says:

      The Privy Council could still be our final court of appeal even if we were independent. It is for many independent countries, e.g. Jamaica.

      • Anonymous says:

        Didnt the Caribbean appoint their own version so they could keep on hanging people which of course the PC would not allow?

        • Anon says:

          "The Caribbean" is a region of many different countries and territories. While the Caribbean Court of Justice was indeed established as a final court of appeal it is a matter for each individual country to determine whether that would be its final court of appeal. To the best of my knowledge only Barbados, Belize and Guyana have adopted it as their final appellate court. Clearly, there are many other independent Caribbean countries which did not.

          My point was that would be possible to retain the Privy Council as the final court of appeal even as an independent country, and not that it would be impossible to choose another final court of appeal. However, bear in mind that this would be a constitutional issue and so would be determined by referendum.     

  17. Man says:

    OMG! Every single incident was misconduct as a result of this Judge being TOO pro-Caymanian. She made statements that Caymanians make daily about Expats.


    • My2cents says:

      Just goes to show how much better it is to be NEUTRAL about the whole Caymanian/Expat thing then. 

      Judge matters by peoples conduct, not where they were born. 

    • Boston Tea Party says:

      And  your point is ?  Apart from wrong?

  18. jurisprudence says:

     For all those who run a foul of this legal fraternity they soon understand that Justice is both blind and not fair having read the judgement and understanding the Privy council reasoning why they arrive at their decision and subsequent judgement which we must not dare question under penalty of law in these islands. It is for me not to judge her right or wrong as the say say judge not or ye shall be judged for all you poster who seem to be having a personal dig at this lady. Need i remind you no one is perfect. However what is very odd is how a particular previous judge in the Cayman Islands who’s outrageous and racist and bias conduct and behavior was overlook and ignored held secret court on Sunday was involved with some yet to be explained matters with Mr. Gibbs/ Ballantyne Euro Bank very messy affair. Yet no tribunal was convened by the then Govenor for this judge He was allowed to slip from these shores with cash in hand to Costa Del Sol Isn’t that how it always is Cayman where the pigment of one,s skin determines how you are look upon and dealt with by your peers, very different outcome for Mrs Levers in this matter. You are right about one thing posters the unjust shall not go on punished.The almighty will judge us all.

    • Anonymous says:


      You have a certain illiterate breathless run-on style which reminds me of a letter I got from someone in the "Courts Office" (now called the Judiciary?) about a legal matter some time back. I was so amazed/appalled at the letter and its idiosyncratic ungrammatical style, I checked the writer out: Born Caymanian with a Third Class Honours Degree from our Law School.

      Are you that person?

      • Anonymous says:

        It is awful when someone with a bad law degree prattles on about law as if they know something about it. 

  19. Anonymous says:

    My HR Manager acts in the same manner as the judge did. She gossips, puts down staff, calls them names. She is so obese that she sits at her desk all day, never walks around to check on staff and see that things are ok. I wonder if I can have her go through the same trial. There must be many others like the judge out there. What can we do?

    • Happy to see Justice prevail says:

      You should report your HR Manager, because she seems like one who will do more damage than good.

    • Anonymous says:

      I would like to do the same to my boss.  She’s going to give me a heart attack.  If you check the Women’s Centre information regarding emotional abuse that is what I go through every day.

      • MataHari says:

        Then you must be a masochist if you allow yourself to be subjected to a daily dose of emotional abuse.

        Go find another job and a better boss before you have a heart attack.

        • Anonymous says:

          Do you have a job for me?  I didn’t know there were so many available.

  20. Anonymous says:

    prime example of why all police officers and judges should not be from the cayman islands

  21. anonymous says:

    Well she can go practice Law, if she’s a lawyer which she should be to qualify for judge, then she can continue her legal career.

    • Anonymous says:

      If she is disbarred , she cannot practise again. She would have to find another career. All members of the bar Lawyers, Barrisrers, judges are considered ministers of justice . If she is not good to sit on the bench because she fell below the appropriate standard how can she do justice with her clients and the prosecution.Rmember the greater includes the lesser. The Geneal Bar Council which is the body in the UK which regulates discipline in the legal profession no doubt would look with scorn if a recalcitrant member were able to present cases before the high Court

  22. Anonymous says:

    Also to be commended are the court staff who took a stand in the face of difficult circumstances in order to put an end to this behavior, because had they fallen victim to intimidation and given no evidence, you know what the outcome would have been.

    • Anonymous says:

      If the courts had accurate audio-visual recordings of the proceedings – it would help prevent innapropriate behaviour or misconduct (we can see even judges are apparently not immune) and further this costly tribunal could have been avoided completely as the tapes would have proven the case one way or the other. 

      As it was the case had to determined on a "he said/she said" basis. 

      But of course when the good judge had a Tribunal there were verbatim transcripts of all the testimony. 

      Why can’t you and me be allowed similar justice?


      • Justitia says:

        I believe the PC judgement shows that there were transcripts for the criminal trials, and at least 1 of the family court proceedings.  

        • Anonymous says:

          There are no transcripts in the lower Summary Court – this is incidentally where most of the poor people usually end up.  Check it out.

  23. Anonymous9 says:

    I feel vindication for those that suffered at this woman’s hands.

    I hope she finds the success she is capable of in a different career and puts the Cayman Islands far far behind her.

    • Anonymous9 says:

      Let me clarify; when I said, ‘I hope she finds the success she is capable of”, I didn’t take into consideration if she would be capable of anything. Was just hoping that whatever it was, it was far far away from Cayman.

      I wish everyone success in whatever they choose to do

  24. Anonymous says:

    All taxpayers in Cayman (ie nearly everyone!) should read the full Privy Council Judgement. It is very revealing and not just in what it says about Mrs Levers’ conduct. I shall say no more.

    • anonymous says:

      please do say some more.  i’ve read half of it and i’m not entirely sure what you’re hinting at…  something to do with the chief justice, governor, the privy council???

  25. Anonymous says:

    At least Stuart Jack aka "Cayman Ripper" made one good decision during his tenure in the Cayman Islands. Then again, he acted on the good advice of the Chief Justice to suspend Justice Levers which ultimately led to the tribunal enquiry and the subsequent recommendation for her removal from the bench, at the Privy Council.

    Other judges and magistrates should now realise that they too are not above the law and there are consequences for improper behaviour/conduct while presiding in both criminal and civil cases in the Cayman Islands. 

    • Go Unna says:

      Jack was the worst Governor we have ever had and he made no good decisions. This sorry saga has probably cost the tax payer north of $3m. Jack had the option of settling it before he left at a fraction of the cost. Go figure. Perhaps the new Auditor General could have a little dig around that decision………

      • Anonymous says:

        i don’t think the new AG is going to be allowed to dig … that’s why he’s the new AG 

        • Anonymous says:

          I assume you mean Auditor General? Not Attorney General? He can dig but not point it out. 

          As the PC said the trouble is she did not keep her opinion to herself.  Wow now they can get rid of any big mouth who upsets the "one" in charge.

      • Anonymous says:

        Hit the road Jack and don’t you come back!