Levers’ lawyers unpaid

| 15/09/2009

(CNS): Despite the fact that the tribunal convened by the governor to hear the case against Justice Priya Levers had ordered 75% of the grand court judge’s legal costs to be paid by the Cayman Islands government, CNS has learned that the attorneys have yet to be paid. With government freezing all payments to suppliers last month, it seems it has also included the money owed for the work already undertaken to represent Levers during the May hearing. With the Lever’s costs still mounting, CNS also understands the governor, Stuart Jack, missed an opportunity to pay off the judge at a fraction of the cost which has now been incurred.

Although the full costs of the entire hearing are yet to be calculated as the tribunal has recommended that the Privy Counsel hear the case, sources close to the case suggested it could reach as much as $5 million.

When CNS contacted the suspended judge for comment on the failure by the governor’s office to pay her legal bill, she said that she was very concerned that it was in default of the payment which was due on 26 August. “The governor’s office gave an undertaking to the tribunal that they would pay the costs as ordered. It is therefore of great concern to me that my attorneys have not been paid.” Levers said she did not wish to comment in detail on the ongoing case but she said she was obviously troubled that the costs would be increasing given the decision to take her case to the Privy Counsel, with previous costs still outstanding.

Costs for the tribunal are already estimated to have been in excess of CI$3 million. However, once the government’s, the tribunal’s, the privy counsel and Lever’s legal cost for taking the case to London are combined, the cash strapped treasury could be facing another bill generated by the Governor’s Office that it cannot pay.

Moreover, with the figure heading to $5 million, CNS has learned from sources close to Levers’ legal team that an offer was made through them on behalf of the high court judge to settle the matter without the need for a tribunal. It is understood that Levers had been willing to resign her post for $650,000 –a mere fraction of the costs already incurred. However, the governor refused to settle and insisted that the tribunal should hear the case against the judge to its full conclusion. Levers refused to comment on the offer to settle but CNS has learned the offer was made before the tribunal started and before government  began racking up  the legal costs.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    This is laughable. please tell me why would the governor opt to "settle" with this woman when her conduct is under investigation? Why should she benefit when she is at fault?!

    How has noone taken the time to even question what this woman’s terms of settlement were?! OPEN YOUR EYES people! Clearly this woman wished to come out of this situation smelling like roses and as some kind of martyr and the gov wasn’t having it. Rightfully so!

  2. Anon says:

    Usual Caymanian response to any situation. Blame the governor, blame the Uk, blame the foreigners etc etc. When will you backwards people get it into your heads that the problems in this country are down to you and nobody else.

    Crime is rising because you brought up your children badly and taught them that they needn’t work hard to be rich as it was in their birthright.

    Like the government and the police force there were clear signs of corruption and mismanagement within the judicial system, which is unacceptable in the modern world. Rather than simply allowing the whole judicial system to dissolve into an even worse mess than it already was, the governor decided to take action and investigate. But, like similar investigations about police corruption, the corruption was so deep that evidence gets tampered with and ‘lost’ to ensure the outcome they desire. 

     

    • Anonymous says:

      Crime is rising just about everywhere.  Regardless of whether you believe  there is more serious corruption or not, what is definitely real is that the investigating team was totally ineffective and acted in an incompetent and even unprofessional way during the investigation.

      If local officers in the RCIPS had produced such an outcome they would also be ineffective but at least we not have had to pay millions of dollars from the government treasury. 

    • Anonymous says:

      I will not profess to know the terms under which Levers’ and her lawyers asked for a settlement, but perhaps they were unacceptable.

      For example, did she ask to be exonerated or absolved of all guilt?  And that, by the way, would have meant that she would have had access to her pension "ad infinitum" — or more appropriately "ad nauseum". 

      What would that have cost us financially?  And more importantly what would that have cost us reputationwise — for the public to assume that the judiciary was targeting this individual unfairly and that as a consequence she was then being sent smiling all the way to the bank? Would that have worked?

      Unfortunately, there are no winners here anyway you take this terrible situation.

      And I have no tears for Levers’ and her lawyers for the lack of payment.  I hardly think that the government should place this case on the priority list given the precarious state of public financies. 

      Things have changed, Lady Levers, since that promise was made.  Perhaps you should have thought more carefully about the consequences before you set the wheels in motion on this sad path.

      • Anonymous says:

        could not have said it better.

        • Boston Tea Party says:

          Amen to that. 

          The only reason that there can now be a reference to the Privy Council is that the Governor must have been advised by the Tribunal that the judge’s behaviour warranted her removal from the bench.  

          You may not believe this, but the reason this procedure is necessary is to protect the independence of the judiciary from interference by the "executive" and thus protect individuals from abuse of power.  It is not possible in this jurisdiction simply to deal with a judge like a normal employee as a result.   Every so often, a judge goes rogue, but that does not mean that there should be the ability to overrule the principle of judicial independence and the "separation of powers" which is designed for the benefit of the citizen. 

          This case was not about office gossip; it was about shameful treatment by a judge of ordinary citizens in a  court of law.

          The real mischief here is that the Governor has not released the Tribunal’s report, even in redacted form to protect the minor children of the families concerned.  He should do so immediately in order to put this debate to rest.

          It is noteworthy that the reports into the conduct of judges in Gibraltar (recommending removal of a judge) and Trinidad (not doing so)  were not hidden from view and were delivered promptly.   All the residents of Cayman are being denied transparency in this instance for no good reason. 

          • Isaac Newton says:

            "All the residents of Cayman are being denied transparency in this instance for no good reason."  As you have not seen the report you can’t state that as a fact.  It is just your view.  Maybe there are good reasons for a temporary bar on publication pending the Privy Council hearing.

             

    • Anonymous says:

      I wonder what is the nationality of "Anon", of Tuesday 13:27, and who is casting aspersions at the Caymanian population’s comments.  Strange that the comments of Anon seem to me to be more of the same.

      For example, from where have you gotten into your cranium that the Governor was investigating the judiciary?  He was most decidedly not.  AT NO TIME DID THE GOVERNOR SAY OR DEMONSTRATE THAT HE WAS INVESTIGATING THE JUDICIARY IN ANY RESPECT.

      The Tempura investigation was originally into an incident that involved the RCIPS.  That eventually turned into a bit of a fiasco in which the Met Police turned the whole thing around and the RCIPS became the suspects in the case.  That was later expanded into Cealt which was positioned as further and unrelated investigation into the RCIPS.

      Just so Anon and others understand what happened: in the process of investigating the matter involving the Police under Tempura, a judge suffered false arrest and has been exonerated OF ANY WRONG DOING AT ALL, and has been given damages for his pain and suffering and legal fees.  Further, the UK lawyer who advised the Met have now all but gotten down on his knees apologising.  That lawyer is now awaiting the judgement call of the UK Bar Standards Board on whether he will be allowed to continue to practise law.

      Try to get your facts straight, please.

  3. Anonymous says:

    The one that really needs to leave is Jack. This is a total waste of money. Cayman has suffered enough because of his BAD decisions. If the government had not wasted so much on Jack’s wild goose chases perhaps the islands would not be in such a financial mess. And just maybe the civil service would not be facing a pay cut. I wonder if Jack is going to have a pay cut also?

    I’ve had a case before Justice Levers. She was very no nonsense and did not allow courtroom theatrics by either side. In the end her ruling was fair and her reasons for her decision made sense.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Yes – for the money due on the remainder of her contract (which we are paying to her anyway) the issue would likely have gone away. The Judge could even have used the time writing legal books and working for us drafting amendments to laws. If the problem was only her alleged courtroom behavious then she could so easily have been taken out of the courtroom. Now we have to pay her full salary, get nothing in return, and pay for the public charade which, by the time it goes to the Pricy Council, will likely cost almost $5 million. And that is called "good governance". Captain underpants must be so proud!

  5. Anonymous says:

    Why does the FCO through the Governor insist on causing the Cayman Islands to waste money?

    • Anonymous says:

      Simple – for the same reason they are recommending direct taxation – they want to destroy us as an offshore financial centre. The UK is our "Mother Country" only in the sense of those animals in the wild who eat their young. And when our economy is destroyed thanks to the FCO’s care and concern, watch how quickly our right to UK passports is withdrawn. They won’t want us on their doorstep when Cayman turns into Jamaica part 2 and there is an exodus of middle class Caymanians who will have nothing left here.

  6. Anonymous says:

     BUT the damage she has allegedly done to persons who appeared in her court needed to be seen and evaluated. Those families, witnesses and defendants who have been, in some cases severely, damaged by her actions, needed some form of voice and some form of justice. Much of what has been done by Lever’s in the name of justice cannot be undone, but lessons need to be learned. Sweeping things under the carpet does NOT lead to changes in attitude and changes in culture. By bringing this to a full public tribunal, everyone in the Cayman Islands can understand how her court was operating, and those people who had the courage to stand up and complain can be vindicated. Shame on the attorneys who worried more about their future careers than standing up for their clients. Praise to the Govenor for NOT taking the easy route.

    • Anonymous says:

      What are you talking about? This case was about a bunch of disinfranchised women who were not happy with rulings or the way the Judge spoke to them. Have these women ever watched Judge Judy, Judge Levers pales in comparison yet the US Government isn’t funding a tribunal hearing for her. What now should all judges ensure that women whether right or wrong should be sweet-talked to..absolute rubbish!!!

      As for those women in the court house bidding for the attention of the Chief Justice, they need to get over it and find some other man or their husbands to keep their attention!

      This was a complete waste of money. Go to court one day and listen to the judges dole out justice! Justice Henderson and Judge Ramsey  are two that immediately come to mind!

      Sometimes the truth hurts particularly if you take it the wrong way. I don’t know Judge Levers personally but I have witnessed her in several court cases over the years and found her firm yet even handed. Although there were times I felt she was a bit strong but judges have to be that way so that the parties are reminded that there can and will be consequences.

      Those of you who can’t see this for what it is or have formed your opinion based on vengeance remember the Bible says "Vengeance is mind saith the Lord."  You are also perpetuating and helping the Governor and the UK waste our limited funds on frivilous court cases.

      Why didn’t they just suspend her to the end of her contract and then not renew. Better yet why didn’t they just negotiate to break her contract and let her go early. In the end nothing more is going to come from this other than we have wasted millions of dollars theat we don’t have!

       

       

      • frank rizzo says:

        Judge Judy is on television. I would not equate justice from a sitting judge with a television judge. There is a reason Judy is on tv rather than the bench. Leave the Judge Judy crap on television to entertain the people who have time to watch tv in the middle of the day. Sorry, I’ll take my justice from a real court.

      • Anonymous says:

         I am not talking about anything but the way in which sensitive family court matters should be heard. When marriages break up and children are involved then the welfare of the child should be first and the welfare of parents second> That does NOT mean that any parent, mother or father, should be treated with anything but understanding, courtesy and compassion. Courts should not take sides in family matters and believe the allegations of one parent over another, without solid independant analysis, as far as is possible, of all the circumstances.

        They should also recognise that both parties in such matters are not necessarily equal in the resources etc they can bring to Court. If one party has lesser representation than another, then that too is a matter for the Judge to evaluate and decide if one side is perhaps being sidelined by the ability of the other to organise their case more effectively. Only by using truly independant enquiries etc can this be acheived. Judge Levers said that it is not her fault if a lawyer comes to court badly prepared, she would have no truck with them and was dismissive of such cases. That is outrageous in Family Matters and also outrageous in the court of a fair legal system which promises a fair trial. How can you justify a child’s life being altered and your main reasoning for making a decision is the ill-preparedness of one party’s lawyer. Rather than carry on with the case, the lawyer should have difficiencies pointed out and cases adjourned for more enquiries to be made.

        Family Courts should rely on independant advice and enquire into individual circumstances. The Judge should be there to be sure that all avenues have been examined and all issues dealt with in the best interests of the child and the family. The family, even though the actual family members often do not realise it at the time, should be able to rely upon the judge to ensure that all voices are heard, equally and without prejudice, before decisions that affect children’s lives are set in motion. Harsh words and recriminations often make children a bargaining counter between warring parents. Courts should take extreme care not to collaborate in the warring process. The only way to ensure that is with a total lack of bias and the ability not to pre-judge a case; definitley NOT to have already have decided the outcome before any witnesses are heard. If you read the transcripts it is patently obvious that was not always the case.  Some of the utterances are beyond comprehension that any Judge in any case would say, let alone during sensitive Family proceedings.

        Vengence plays no part in my response, and I would hope plays no role in the witnesses and others who spoke up about their treatment in Court, for some the result has severley affected their family life, for some of the affected children, even if  results are reversed at some later date, untold damage to relationships etc has or may have already been done. Some parents were disenfanchised by the Court, made to feel worthless and their rights as parents usurped. Too many witnesses from too many different walks of life and in even now living in different countries gave such simmilar accounts of their experiences in Justice Levers Court, that unless there is some huge conspiracy it is difficult  to come to the conclusion that their aim is some form of vendetta.

        Whatever the rights and wrongs in this particular case, it can only be hoped that the whole family court system in these Islands is examined, and if found wanting is modernised.

      • Anonymous says:

        YOU do NOT know what YOU are talking about.

        This is NOT just about ‘a bunch of disinfranchised women’.

        Shame on you for quoting the bible and then passing judgement on something that you don’t know enough about.

  7. Richard Wadd says:

     And ALL of this could have been avoided by simply placing her on ‘Paid Leave’ until her contract was up in October, and yhen simply NOT renewing the Contract.

    It wouldn’t have cost us what, 500k? 

     

    • Anonymous says:

      I do not think that was a legal option.  There are special rules for judges, rules which are founded on good principles of ensuring that the bench is not too susceptible to interference, but which make it very very hard to remove a sitting judge.

      • Anonymous says:

        It was an option provided the Judge agreed – simply a matter of employment contract/negotiation.

  8. Anonymous says:

    "CNS also understands the governor, Stuart Jack, missed an opportunity to pay off the judge at a fraction of the cost which has now been incurred"

     

    Suprise…Suprise!!! The Governor has once again bitten off more than he can chew and looks like we get to pay for it…again!!!

    Can we not send XXXXX home yet?

    • Anonymous says:

      Not yet……….. because he has not finished his mission (Destroy Cayman) given to him by FCO.

      Progress so far >>>>>>>> Police – done; Judiciary & Economy – 50% complete. Gun Culture – just started; Terminate tax free status – not started yet