Judge bailed as arrest shocks

| 25/09/2008

(CNS): The shock waves of the arrest of Grand Court judge Justice Alex Henderson, who has now been released on bail, have reached his native Canada, where former colleagues have expressed their surprise. Describing him as a household name in British Columbia (BC), where he was a Supreme Court justice, the Canadian media reported that those who worked with him there were in disbelief.

Brian Hiebert, managing partner of Davis LLP, where Henderson worked between 1981 and 1995, told the Canadian media Henderson was a man of integrity.

"From my personal interaction with him, he was always a person of tremendous integrity, so this is quite a shock," said Hiebert, from Davis LLP’s office in Vancouver, characterising him as a "very well-respected, very highly regarded litigation lawyer" in BC. "He did a lot of high-profile cases, both civil litigation and criminal litigation. By all accounts, he was very well respected as a lawyer and as a judge," he said.

Supreme Court Associate Chief Justice Patrick Dohm told CBC News that he was "astounded" by Henderson’s arrest, adding that the Henderson he knew was beyond reproach and had no dark side.

As the silence over what had happened in Cayman remained deafening, CNS contacted various members of the legal community for comment and also tried to establish who is representing the judge, but has so far been unsuccessful. During their respective announcements to the media on Wednesday morning, both Governor Stuart Jack and Senior Investigating officer Martin Bridger gave very little away concerning the details of the arrest.

“As this process moves forward, we are dealing with many difficult, multi-faceted issues. As such there are times when some information simply cannot be shared without prejudging certain outcomes or jeopardizing aspects of the investigation,” the Governor said, adding that the arrest had nothing to do with any judgements Henderson had made. Bridger indicated it was directly connected with the original special investigation surrounding corruption allegations made against Deputy Commissioner Anthony Ennis and publisher Desmond Seales. Bridger, however, noted it was not related to the so-called break-in of the Cayman Net News premises.

Jack stated that the implications relating to the judge’s status and pay were being assessed by Chief Justice Anthony Smellie with regard to the provisions in the constitution. Hendersonis one of four Grand Court judges, a figure currently down to two with the suspension of Justice Priya Levers, who is facing a tribunal regarding undisclosed complaints. While the Governor sought to reassure the community that this would not impair the course of justice, given that 50 per cent of the country’s Grand Court judges are out of action, there are serious concerns that the justice system will be in trouble.

Henderson came to Cayman in 2003 following his retirement from BC’s Supreme Court and a long and respected legal career. Henderson was often hired in his native country by the Crown to prosecute special criminal cases, including the so-called Bingogate scandal of the early 1990s, which brought down former NDP cabinet minister Dave Stupich and forced the resignation of then premier Mike Harcourt.

He was the special prosecutor who went after former BC premier Bill Bennett on charges of illegal insider trading in connection with a fortuitous sale of shares in Doman Industries, just before the company announced it was pulling out of a merger deal, though Bennett was acquitted. He also represented the BC Law Society in a case against former Vancouver mayor Jack Volrich on allegations of misusing client funds.

Henderson came to Cayman as an acting judge in the Grand Court in 2000. He then moved to the Supreme Court in the Turks and Caicos Islands where he was acting Chief Justice. He returned to Cayman in 2003 as a Grand Court judge. He is co-author of “The Business of Crime”, a report to government on organised crime and money laundering, and co-editor of “Criminal Jury Instructions”, a reference book used by Canadian judges in instructing juries.



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  1. Disappointed Observer says:

    It is with profound disappointment that I watch these events unfold, and the truth is that I simply don’t believe that there exists or could exist any justification for the egregious treatment Justice Henderson is receiving.  Having said that, due process demands that we wait and see what Mr. Bridger has by way of evidence of an offence that is so serious that it warranted this extreme and potentially career-killing action. 

    No doubt the evidence will be seen at some point, as the facts of this case cannot be kept hidden from the Cayman people indefinitely. In the interim, I hope that Justice Henderson can take some comfort from the fact that he has many, many supporters who continue to hold him in the highest esteem. 

    As for Mr. Bridger, if these actions are found to be unjustified then he will have an enormous task in answering for them. These events are already known world-wide, Cayman has taken yet another serious blow to its reputation, and the career of one of Cayman’s most esteemed jurists will have to be compensated for (with regrets to the Cayman tax-payer for that).
    These are very sad times indeed.
  2. Anonymous says:

    Justice Henderson is well known to the legal community in Cayman as a judge of the highest integrity  and the highest ability. His arrest is as shocking as it is absurd. The sooner this gentle and kindly man of the highest repute and ability is cleared of this nonsense , the better for Cayman.

  3. Anonymous says:

    What about Judge Levers?

    A lot has been revealed about Judge Henderson.  What about Judge Levers?  What are the details of her case?  It all seems to be kept so secret. Can somebody tell me more?

  4. Anonymous says:

    I understand that Justice Henderson came here because he married a woman who lived here, and that, being in his late 50’s, he saw coming to this country to work in the judiciary as a privilege and as a way of easing into retirement.  In Canada, many lawyers in their late 50’s consider life on a Caribbean island as a privileged retirement, though few can swing it.  Clearly, some other contributors do not see it as a privilege to live here if they question WHY he would.  Perhaps it is time we let Mr. Bridger ask his questions so that we can truly see how ridiculous these charges are, and how much egg Bridger can wear on his face at one time.

  5. Shocked says:

    We the people of the Cayman Islands are SHOCKED, yes we are, "but you can do what you want to do, but not for as long as you want to do it"!!

    "Intergity" what a joke, that is what they all same to have until the bottom of the bucket drops out!!

    Mr Jack, I pray for the strength for you to be able to continue to do what you see has to be done for these three little Islands.

     A true Caymanian

  6. Anonymous says:

    I worked for Henderson let me tell you he is the best Grand Court judge this Island could get its hands on, immaculate work ethic…yet another shameful event for this  country…Cayman is getting to be known around the world as backwards joke

  7. Anonymous says:

    On the surface this Judge appears from this article to be a Saint and a man of justice.  However, we all know that people change and also money makes people change as well, although I am not saying that is the situation in this case.  Therefore, hopefully the truth surrounding his arrest will be revealed and very soon as with any normal arrest the charges are itemized and made public.  I feel that if this Judge was as popular and as highly ranked as the picture has been painted of him in this article then my question is why did he leave his high profile job and positions in Canada to come to work here and no doubt quite possibly with a pay cut as well.  That would be interesting in itself to know why this occurred.