Donnie Ebanks chose JP

| 30/10/2008

(CNS): During his 124 page ruling stating that the search warrants served on Justice Alex Henderson were unlawful, Sir Peter Cresswell the presiding Judicial Review judge raised particular concerns over the selection of justice of the peace (JP) Carson Ebanks to sign the warrants, who it was revealed, was recommended by the Deputy Chief Secretary.

Reading from Martin Bridger’s affidavit, (Senior Investigating Officer of Operation Tempura) Cresswell an expert judge brought especially to hear the case from the UK by the Governor, said he was concerned by Bridger’s explanation for why he selected a JP.

Bridger had stated: “I did not have sufficient confidence in the judiciary of the Grand Court. I spoke to the oversight group about this and Donnie Ebanks the Deputy Chief Secretary suggested a list of three Justices of the Peace who would be suitable.”

It was made clear that Carson Ebanks, Chief Officer in the Ministry of Public Works was one of the three JPs recommended by Donovan Ebanks, Deputy Chief Secretary. There are some 168 JPs in Cayman many of which do have professional legal qualifications and experience in the law. Carson Ebanks however, admits that he has never been on the JP’s training course, attended any workshops for lay JPS or sat in court and at most would issue five warrants in a year.

His inexperience was highlighted by Cresswell who said the extraordinary applications for search warrants should have been made to the Grand Court and not a JP. He also criticised the obvious implication that the investigating officers had deliberately selected a particular JP. “I am troubledby the selection of a particular justice of the peace as ‘suitable’” the Judge added. 

“Mr Bridger knew that the complexity of the issues in the earlier applications for warrants, in respect of three other persons, had required several hearings and led to Reasons extending to 51 pages. How could a justice of the peace be expected to deal with similarly exceptional and complex applications on police premises in a short space of time?” asked Cresswell.

He indicated that Bridger could have asked the Chief Justice to appoint a visiting judge to hear the applications. Smellie had indicated he would do so in his rulings earlier in the year regarding when he declined the search warrants for Police Commissioner Stuart Kernohan and Chief Superintendent John Jones.

“If Mr Bridger’s affidavit is to be read as suggesting that the Chief Justice would not have acted professionally if he had been approached to allocate a judge to hear the matter, such a suggestion is, in my opinion, wholly unwarranted,” added Cresswell. “Even, if contrary to my view, it was appropriate to make the applications for the search warrants to a justice of the peace, the applications to the respondent were contrary to good practice.”

Carson Ebanks stated that Donovan Ebanks had asked him to attend the offices of the special enquiry team which Cresswell said was wrong and it served to undermine the independence that a JP should maintain. If it was necessary to apply for the warrant after hours the police Creswell noted, should have gone to Ebanks’ home.

The judge also raised concerns that Donovan Ebanks had “advised” Carson Ebanks that the Governor was aware of the matter. Cresswell explained that the Governor appoints JPs so the statement could have had an inappropriate effect and he says should not have been made.

“It was obvious to any fair-minded police officer that the respondent (Ebanks) was out of his depth,” Cresswell said. “The respondent did not have independent legal advice available to him. The respondent could not be expected to have any knowledge of the ingredients of the offence of misconduct in public office contrary to common law or the law of contempt.”

During his ruling Creswell makes various recommendations about how justices of the peace should be assisted in future and to avoid having them issue search warrants in complex situations. Speaking after the case closed, Shaun McCann of Campbells from Henderson’s legal team noted that while the ruling to quash the warrants was important to his client it was also important to the jurisdiction as a whole fornumerous reasons and the issue over JPs was one.

“The Judge has set out the procedures for JPs with regards information and what a proper police officer should do,” he said.

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Comments (5)

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  1. Paul Kunino Lynch says:

    I wish I could understand your story headed "Donny Ebanks chose JP", but alas, I can’t. I doubt that any other reader could, either, unless with some prior knowledge of the matters it mentions.

    The story does make clear that Donny Ebanks did not choose the JP, but simply supplied his name within a list of three recommendations. It does not make clear what relationship exists between Deputy Chief Secretary Ebanks and JP Ebanks, although it seems a fair bet that they’re members of the same family.

    In the course of which investigation did police want a search warrant for Justice Henderson’s premises? What were they looking for? (That should have been spelt out in the warrant.) What documents or other discovered objects did they seize? Was anything seized at all? Is any seized material to be returned to Justice Henderson? Did the imported Review Judge in his ruling do anything other than point out that errors had taken place and explain how some could be avoided in future? Who were the parties to the action before Justice Cresswell?

    These are just a few of the many questions that any reasonable reader might ask about this story and action, which made no mention at all the present condition, or more properly perhaps, plight, of the distinguished Justice Henderson. This seems a pity. And it says nothing about the current state, or as it might be, plight, of the police investigation that led police to the justice’s door, search warrant in hand, all those months ago.

    What has the Cayman community gained to this point from the expensive and apparently high-handed police enquiry in question?

    Kind regards– Paul Kunino Lynch

  2. anti-hypocrisy says:

    Shocking – the executive interfering with the judicial process.  This man should not be allowed to hold public office – pick and choose your rubber stamp and then influence judicial decisions – because that was what the search warrant was – by exerting improper comment.  Is this not the sort of thing that misconduct in public office is?

  3. Anonymous says:

    While Bridger is deservedly getting slapped back by the judiciary for his appalling behaviour, he is not the only one who should be getting licks here.  Also to blame are the folowing CAYMANIANS:

    Lyndon Martin – who started this whole stupid mess by telling lies of an alleged police leak;

    McKeeva Bush – telling the same lies to the Police of an alleged leak;

    Carson Ebanks – signing search warrants for Bridger in circumstances when he should not have;

    Donnie Ebanks – for helping Bridger circumvent the Courts and generally promoting and condoning Bridger’s ridiculous and illegal actions.

    George McCarthy, Sam Bulgin and the rest of this so-called Strategic Oversight Committee that is advising and helping Bridger perpetrate this fraud and disgrace on their own country.

    As always, people like Bridger are only able to get away with whatever we Caymanians allow them to do to us.

    Thanks alot Lyndon Martin for telling lies to let Bridger come here and prey on us.  Good job. 

    And the rest of the other self-loating, spineless Caymanians that are letting and advising Bridger, thanks ever so much as well.

    I don’t know how you sleep with this on your head, but as one caymanian to another – all of you disappoint and disgust me.

     

  4. Anonymous says:

    Here is a Caymanian who had the "blind fold" pulled over his eyes in disguise, to support Martin Bridger and his croonies.

    I hope you learn your lesson now "Donnie". You should now join the rest of the Caymanians advocates for Martin Bridger and is croonies to pack up and leave. 

    Tell me Donnie, is it true that Martin Bridger is earning $300,000 CI per annum, compliments of the CI Government and its tax papers ?? Can you also tell me since you probably would know, is it true that Martin Bridger son recently came from the UK and was kindly assisted by the Cayman Islands Government through the Chief Secretary’s Office, in securing a top paying job in the private sector ???

  5. Anonymous says:

    About time it come to light how inexperienced and untrained some of our JP’s are. The procedure for granting them this esteemed position should also be examined. A few years ago there was quite a bit of controversy regarding the appointment of various JP’s in the Brac – needless to say the comments and opinions of the general public were ignored and they were appointed. We now have one who runs around selling numbers and the other prescriptions drugs. What are we hearing over and over and over again. CORRUPTION CORRUPTION CORRUPTION