Archive for January 13th, 2014

Retirement and study claims three court staff

| 13/01/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS): The local courts have lost three key members of staff recently with the retirement of two long serving Court Marshalls and the departure of one of the judicial services court reporters. Lambert Dilbert the Chief Marshall served for 15 years and Eric Greenidge for six, though both men had already served the criminal justice system prior to becoming marshalls for several years in other capacities. Kerri Francella, has left Cayman to study in her native Canada after being here for seven years.

At a gathering to say goodbye to the three public servants the Chief justice said the courts will miss them all. “Warmest congratulations on jobs well done, and, in the case of Mr. Dilbert and Mr. Greenidge, on your hard-earned retirements,” Anthony Smellie told them.
Speaking about Francella, the top judge noted the importance of the court reporters job.

“Like the other members of the Court Reporting team, she is a true professional and very accomplished at what she does,” the Chief Justice said.  “Real time court reporting is a very demanding job and a skill that takes many years of honing to acquire.”
Prior to her post as the courts, Francella served as a Hansard Officer at the Legislative Assembly for about two years.

Meanwhile, Dilbert (known as Wellington) who retired after fifteen years at the court served for ten years as a prison officer at HMP Northward before becoming a Marshall.

“It was a mark of the trust and respect that Wellington has earned that he was appointed Chief Marshall three years ago, despite other candidates vying for that position,” the Chief Justice said.  “He appreciates the important duties that the Marshalls have in assisting with the orderly and efficient administration of the courts and took his responsibilities very seriously.”

Dilbert said that he has had no regrets and before coming to Cayman Dilbert worked as an artist, producing sculptures. “I did that for twelve years before coming here, so the art field holds some possibilities for me,” he said. The proud author of a collection of some 70 poems, he hopes to continue his hobby of writing poetry.

Greenidge, (who was unable to make the farewell gathering ) retired from service as a Court Marshall after six years but came to the Courts from the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service, where he rose to the position of Inspector in a career that began in the 1970s. He joined the Courts in 2003 following his retirement from the RCIPS, where he was, the Chief Justice said, “a stalwart member” of the police cricket team.

At the Courts, his performance was equally impressive.  “During his years at the Courts, Mr. Greenidge also earned the trust and respect of all of us, judges and court staff alike,” the Chief Justice said.  “The dignified way in which he carries himself and the disciplined and courteous manner in which he goes about his duties can serve as a good example to all who follow him in the position as Marshall. We thank him for his more than 40 years’ service to the people of these islands,” he added.

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BoR and online media drive review of contempt law

| 13/01/2014 | 1 Comment

(CNS): The growth of electronic media and the introduction of the Bill of Rights have triggered a review of Cayman’s contempt laws that deal with everything from scandalizing the court to how the press covers legal proceedings. Government’s legal drafters are asking the public to contribute to the review, which aims to modernise the legislation that covers a wide range of subjects, from the rules governing jurors and witnesses to public comment about trials and judges. The Law Reform Commission has published a consultation paper and points to the need to balance freedom of expression with a fair trialand the impact of an instantaneous social media, such as Facebook, as well as the on-line press.

With frequent calls for greater clarity on how contempt laws affect publication by the media on the courts as well as the need to modernise some elements of the law, drafters are hoping to revise the existing legislation to suit the contemporary context without undermining anyone’s rights to justice or free speech, which is seen as a delicate balance.

In the consultation paper legal drafters imply that the Bill of Rights heralds the need for an adjustment of the balance “in favour of freedom of expression” and the “growth of electronic means of communication which are instantaneous and unconstrained by geographical considerations” also need to now be considered.

“We would suggest that both the existing law and any proposals for reform should be judged against this touchstone: is the risk of interfering with the proper interests of the stakeholders in the due administration of justice such as to justify any, and, if so, what, restrictions on freedom of expression?” the government lawyers stated in the consultation paper.

Of the many issues which appear to be at odds with modern laws, rights and freedoms is the fact that, depending on the nature of a contempt allegations, courts can impose a coercive sentence of imprisonment that is unlimited, with the defendant only released when he has “purged” his contempt by doing, or agreeing to do, what he was ordered to do. A reporter who refuses to give the name of a source, for example, when ordered to do so by a judge could be jailed indefinitely under the current laws until they do. In addition, the Penal Code (2013 Revision) contains what the drafters described as a rag-bag of contempt-like offences punishable by imprisonment for four years.

“These anomalies tend to foster the impression that, in dealing with contempt cases, the courts are acting as prosecutor, judge and jury," the drafters have noted in the consultation paper. “As part of the balancing exercise … one concern which needs to be addressed is the extent to which the perpetuation of these anomalies can be justified by reference to differences between contempt of court and other criminal offences.”

With any number of issues at risk of being defined as interfering with the administration of justice, from disrupting court proceedings to a boss sacking an employee who gives evidence against him, the drafters also noted the need to clearly define what acts fall foul of the law.

Throwing missiles at the judge, stripping naked, witnesses refusing to be sworn, clenched fist salutes and even a refusal to stand when the judge enters the court have all been held to constitute contempt in the face of the court.

A the moment, the drafters said, “it is easier to give examples of conduct which constitute such contempt than determine conduct that will not,” adding that the criticisms made over this area of the contempt laws is about the lack of certainty which criminal offences should have, as set out in the Bill of Rights. In other words, the public needs to reasonably know when they might have committed an offence of any kind.

“Under the existing law, it is possible for a person to be subjected to the indefinite penalties of the law of contempt in respect of conduct which, at its worst, could only be described as negligent,” the drafters warned.

While reported instances of contempt committed by the local media in Cayman are few in number, the drafters questioned whether or not this is due in part to the fears expressed by some over the uncertain application of the law to any given situation.

“It may be that the fear of prosecution has deterred them from publishing material that, if published, would or ought not to be regarded as constituting contempt, the so-called chilling effect,” the drafters noted.

Speaking about scandalising the court, the government lawyers also noted that this, like any other aspect of the contempt laws, is not about protecting the sensitivities of judges but to maintain public confidence in the administration of justice and made it clear that judges can be criticised.

“Criticism of a judge or court is not contempt and nor does it become so for being expressed in strong language,” the consultation paper notes. “It seems to be accepted that the offending material must be such as to create a real risk that public confidence in the administration of justice will be undermined."

Nevertheless, the drafters still warned that some criticism was not acceptable, after all. Recent online comments from anonymous members of the public concerning what the writers thought to be too lenient sentences for sexual offences “have come very close to the red line if they have not actually crossed it,” they add.

The consultation paper is available at www.lawreformcommission.gov.ky or www.lrc.gov.ky and posted below.

Members of the public are invited to submit their comments on the consultation paper. Submissions should be made no later than 10th April, 2014 and should be posted to the Director, Law Reform Commission, P.O. Box 1999 KY1-1104, delivered by hand to the offices of the Commission at 1st floor dms House, Genesis Close or sent by e-mail to Cheryl.Neblett@gov.ky

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Two men deny wounding in separate WB attacks

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(CNS): Fred Booth and Alvin Brown both pleaded not guilty Friday when they appeared in Grand Court in connection with two separate incidents, in which the men are accused of wounding others in the West Bay area last year. Booth is accused of unlawfully wounding Taj O’Hara outside a barber shop in December at the Batanabo Plaza, while Brown is accused of maliciously wounding Garfield Powell in an incident which took place in Town Hall Road. Both men have fixed trial dates for May this year and they were remanded in custody pending bail applications later this week.

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Suspended cop takes own life

| 13/01/2014 | 0 Comments

(CNS): A serving police officer who had been suspended from duty as a result of allegations of blackmail has taken his own life. The police had said that a body of a man was found in East End on Sunday and an investigation had commenced but gave no further details. It was not until Monday afternoon that the RCIPS formally confirmed that the dead man was the 45-year-old officer who was arrested last week and on police bail at the time he died. A PC stationed at George Town police station, he was under investigation regarding allegations under the Penal Code and the anti-corruption law of blackmail and breach of trust. An RCIPS spokesperson said  there appeared to be no suspicious circumstances surrounding his death and a report would be forwarded to the coroner’s office.

Other sources tell CNS that the suspended officer had hanged himself in the Collier's area of East End, where the body was discovered sometime Sunday afternoon.

Family members, both here and overseas, have now been informed and a family liaison officer has been appointed, the police said.

Richard Oliver of Cayman's anti-corruption unit refused to comment on the officer's suicide and the investigation which had commenced into the allegations.

 

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Church launches marriage course open to all

| 13/01/2014 | 16 Comments

(CNS): The Elmslie Memorial United Church launched a marriage counselling programme on Monday, which it says is open to all couples regardless of whether or not they attend the United or any other church. In its fourth year, the 'Marriage Enrichment Series: Let’s Stay Together' will run from February to April. Church officials said there will be eight Monday night sessions of straight talk about marriage, which will take place over a free dinner at Margarittaville, a neutral venue that, the church said, widens the appeal to include church and non-church people. Based on the Alpha Marriage Course produced by Holy Trinity Brompton in the UK, the course, nevertheless, is based on Christian principles of marriage.

“The programme is full of practical advice for all marriages and many couples who are not church goers have enjoyed and benefited from the course,” church officials saidin a release on Monday following the official launch of the programme. The church said the course is in response to concerns in the community over the health of marriages here. They said that it can help couples enrich theirrelationship, strengthen a very strong marriage or help one that is having challenges.

Topics covered by the course include Building Strong Foundations, The Art of Communication, Resolving Conflict, The Power of Forgiveness, The Impact of Family – Past and Present, Good Sex, and Love in Action.

Cayman has a relatively high divorce rate and the law surrounding marriage and divorce are currently under review to examine, among other issues, the introduction of no fault divorce.

Currently, regardless of the circumstances in marriages, no one in Cayman can achieve a divorce without blaming one of the parties for adultery, unreasonable behaviour or desertion. Couples must also wait two years, even when a marriage has clearly broken down, contrasting with other jurisdictions where couples are granted divorces after twelve months apart and no faults necessarily being cited.

Lengthy time separations are believed by experts to merely prolong divorce rather than prevent it and research indicates that no fault can prevent acrimony.

However, when the Law Reform Commission announced its plans to review the local matrimonial laws, the Cayman Ministers Association, which represents local churches, was quick to file its objections to plans to make divorce less complex and acrimonious by removing the blame requirement, as they said it would increase the divorce rate.

'Lets Stay Together' begins on 17 February from 7 to 9pm each Monday evening. The major sponsors include Margarittaville, Jeffery DaCosta and Radio Cayman and participants are required to pay a one off fee of $50 to cover materials. For registration and for further information please call 949-7923 or email elmslie@candw.ky
 

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Man arrested in East End stabbing

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(CNS) Updated: The police have arrested 32-year-old man on suspicion of attempted murder in connection with a stabbing that took place at a house in the East End area in the early hours of Sunday 12 January. The suspect is being questioned regarding the knife attack in which a man received mutiple wounds to his back during an attack that took place in his own home at around 1am. The attacker had reportedly entered the house and fled the scene after the stabbing. The 47-year-old injured man was taken to George Town hospital, where his condition is said to be stable. The suspect was arrested sometime Sunday and remains in custody while enquiries continue.

Anyone with information regarding this incident is asked to contact the Bodden Town Police Station at 947-2220 or Crime Stoppers at 800-8477 (TIPS)
 

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CONCACAF adopts measures to tackle racism

| 13/01/2014 | 3 Comments

(CNS): The executive committee of the region’s football governing body has passed a protocol for dealing with racist incidents during matches in CONCACAF tournaments which is effective immediately. The protocol outlines a three-stage method for dealing with any serious racist or discriminatory behaviour in all football stadiums within the federation including racist chants, insults, screams or banners. “Even though the history of CONCACAF shows a great track record when it comes to diversity on the field, the Confederation is committed to creating standards to continue promoting good practice across the region,” said CONCACAF President Jeffrey Webb.

Congratulating the 41 member football associations for safeguarding a culture of diversity within football, Webb, the boss of Cayman’s own footballing body and VP of FIFA, who spearheaded the campaign to root out racism in football, explained that there is now a clear system for handling any racist incident.

“The procedure outlines a clear and precise approach of zero tolerance for racist or discriminatory incidents that may arise during matches,” said Webb, the Chairman of the FIFA Anti-Racism and Discrimination Task Force. “By safeguarding the basic principle of respect amongst all individuals in our stadiums, we hope to make sure that nothing steers the focus away from the talent displayed by our players during each game.”

Under the protocol and as a first phase, when a referee becomes aware of serious racist and/or discriminatory behaviour committed in a stadium, he or she shall first stop the game and order a stadium announcement urging the behaviour to cease. As a second phase and if the behaviour continues, the referee shall suspend the game for 5-10 minutes and send the teams to the dressing room while another stadium announcement is made. Finally, and if the behaviour continues, the third phase shall consist, as a very last resort, in the referee declaring the match abandoned.

CONCACAF will provide training to Integrity Officers, Match Commissioners and Referees to assist in monitoring for incidents during high risk games. However, referees will ultimately be responsible for implementing the approved protocol during each game played throughout the Confederation’s tournaments. Regardless of whether a game is declared as suspended or abandoned, CONCACAF’s Disciplinary Committee will still establish whether disciplinary measures should be imposed to sanction the undesirable incidents.

Sessions on awareness of diversity and discrimination issues will be included in CONCACAF’s ongoing grassroots development courses and other training for coaches, referees and officials across the region, starting with the program in St. Lucia on 25 January 25th.

The Embrace Diversity campaign was created to provide a strong, recognized, effective and influential voice to promote inclusion and tolerance within the football community and society.

The full text of the Protocol for Racist Incidents during Matches is available here.

 

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Cayman’s young sailors end 2013 on a high

| 13/01/2014 | 2 Comments

(CISC): Cayman youth sailors have had a great year, proudly representing Cayman at a number of overseas regattas but the real climax to the year came in the very last week with 11 sailors travelling to Miami. The Orange Bowl is the largest youth regatta in the USA and one of the largest in the world with over 700 sailors coming from 25 countries, and more than 30 US states. The team, accompanied by Coach Raph and Coach Kristine, got up at the break of dawn on Boxing Day to travel to the 4 day regatta. The sheer size of the racing fleets was the biggest obstacle they had to overcome and they all showed just how far Cayman youth sailing has come by fighting it out with the very best.

In the Laser 4.7 class Pablo Bertran took second place overall with Florence Allan in seventh. Georgia Heaver-Wren and James Allen were competing in their first overseas regatta and gained invaluable experience from competing at this level. Georgia had one stand out race where she rounded the top and bottom mark in 2nd place. She later admitted that “it was the only time that I’ve ever been terrified and happy at the same time”. 

Coach Raph Harvey was extremely proud of his sailors. “As a small country we are used to saying that we did well not to come last in large international events but to hear the Cayman Islands being called up to the prize giving podium at such a major event gives you a wonderful feeling. These guys have trained hard and moved up a level. They can be very proud of their achievements”. In the Laser radial class Jesse Jackson and Shane McDermott raced in a fleet of 127 boats against some very talented sailors and held their own to achieve mid fleet places.

The younger sailors were racing in the Optimist class and also achieved astonishing success. Allena Rankine was competing in her second Orangebowl in a championship fleet of 240 boats and what a difference a year made with her 84th place representing a 138 place improvement. Will Jackson was also in the fleet coming in 215th place. The green fleet which is for less experienced sailors had 60 boats and again Cayman sailors had people talking with Charles Allen in 8th place and Monique Hernandez in 10th, collecting trophies. Caylem Hill was 31st.

Back in Cayman, Coach Harvey reflected on the youth team. “As a coach I am very excited with the strides the sailors have all made at this regatta and I cannot wait to get back out on the water to start improving on the things we have learnt from sailing against such talented competitors. The next major event will see four of our sailors trying to qualify for this year’s Youth Olympic Games at the Byte C2 regatta which is to be held at the end of February in Jensen beach, Florida so we have to get out there and practice, practice, practice. It’s great to know that these kids will push themselves to do their very best”.

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Murder trial in question at 11th hour

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(CNS): Charges against a second man for the murder of Robert Mackford Bush have placed the trial of Brian Borden who was first charged with the alleged West Bay gang related killing in 2012 in jeopardy yet again. Borden is due to stand trial next Monday but charges laid against David Tomasa last month by the police have triggered mountains of last minute disclosure and raised numerous questions about the case. Nick Hoffman, Borden’s defence attorney told the court Friday that he had grave concerns about the trial given the release of so much material so close to the opening of his clients’ trial and the change in the crown’s case against him. However, having already faced two adjournments because of police enquiries the attorney said his client was still keen to press ahead as he has been on remand without trial for almost 18 months.

Police have charged Tamasa with murder though it is understood their claim is that Tomasa aided and abetted in the fatal shooting of Bush but under the law he can still be charged with the killing which carries a mandatory life sentence.

Bush (28 ) was gunned down while he sat in his car at the junction of Birch Tree Hill Road and Capts Joe and Osbert Road in West Bay on 13 September 2011. This triggered a series of gang related killings over a nine period in which five young men were shot and killed and a sixth seriously wounded. Borden was charged almost a year later with the murder and remained until last month the only person charged with the killing until last month when Tamasa was also charged.

Far too late for the crown to join Tomasa to the same indictment Borden will be tried alone but his attorney noted that the change could have a very significant impact on the case against his client as he raised concerns about the quantity of material which now exists that he will need to examine before the case against his client begins next week. Asking the court for an order to ensure he has all of the information generated by this investigation, Hoffman criticised the crown for the way in which they had handled the release of the documents and the 11th hour charge.

 

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No sign of $6.2M in Ritz deal

| 13/01/2014 | 50 Comments

(CNS): The owners of the Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman have settled their legal dispute with the former owner, Michael Ryan, the developer of the resort, but the hole in the public purse to the tune of $6.2 million remains as the missing duty is not part of the deal. Five Mile Capital Partners LLC, the company which acquired the five-star resort following the loan default by the former companies owned by Ryan, said the obligation still lies with the former owners. Finance Minister Marco Archer told CNS that it appears there is little recourse for the Cayman Island Government over the missing cash. The debt relates to the remaining balance of a more than $10 million duty waiver given to Ryan during the development of the hotel.

Following a closed door settlement between Ryan, the former owner of Cesar Hotelco (Cayman) Ltd, one of the companies he created which owned the hotel, the new owners made it clear they were not responsible for the balance of the outstanding duty.

“The obligation to pay the deferred duty to the Cayman Islands Government was solely the obligation of the former owner Cesar Hotelco (Cayman) Ltd,” Five Mile said in a statement to CNS Friday. 

“It is not an obligation which created any lien on or otherwise encumbered the hotel or associated properties. The role of the receivers was to act as agents for the companies over which they were appointed and to collect monies owed from debtors to those companies.  If any recoveries were made by the receivers they would be used to defray the costs of the receivers and the debt owed to the lender as secured creditor. They had no responsibility for collecting any monies owed to the Cayman Islands Government,” the company added.

Two lawsuits were filed in 2012 by RC Cayman, one of Five Mile's firms, against Ryan and the various companies related to the development and ownership of the resort. They were looking for US$234 million over the loan default and other funds from the companies they acquired as part of the default. The new owners had accused Ryan of taking money from those companies without explanation, which he had denied, claiming the transactions were all legitimate.

Speaking to the Caymanian Compass last week, Ryan said he was “very pleased” with the outcome of the secret deal between him and Five Mile but he still denied owing the duty.

This debt to CIG came about as a result of the former UDP administration’s decision to allow Ryan and the companies that owned the Ritz to freeze the payments being made to government in 2009. The former owner was paying back the cash up until March 2009 following the opening of the hotel in 2005. However, with the tourism slump and other problems, Ryan had requested time and tied the debt with other possible development proposals and stopped paying, when more than $6 million remained outstanding to the cash-strapped public purse.

In the end, other debts to the hotel’s financiers caught up with Ryan and as a result the hotel was acquired by the creditors before any new agreement had been made between him and the CIG over the debt.

Archer, who became finance minister in the PPM administration last year, has criticized the random and inconsistent waivers that had been given by the previous government on duty and other financial obligations. Having inherited this problem, he said that the Ritz deal does not appear to have changed anything for government, which will remain out of pocket. The minister said that there does not seem to have been any legal opinion sought by the previous government over the issue relating to any possible recourse it may have.

McKeeva Bush, who was premier when Five Mile Capital acquired the Ritz at auction, questioned at the time the value of that sale and how it was acquired by the creditors. He has also insisted that, as the new owners, they were and are responsible for the debt. Bush confirmed to CNS this week that his position on the issue had not changed and said that Five Mile Capital and their related companies "should pay".

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