Levers reveals ordeal

| 17/08/2010

(CNS): In the wake of her removal from the bench, former Grand Court Judge, Priya Levers, admitted last week that the investigation and tribunal into her behaviour was both a humiliating and difficult ordeal. Accepting the recent ruling of the Privy Council, Levers said she had never intended to hurt anyone but it was the “spoken word that had defeated” her.  She said that it was evident she had spoken out of turn and the manner in which she made comments in the court was inappropriate. However, Levers pointed out that she had committed no crime or engaged in any corruption, even though there were times during the enquiry that she felt people treated her as if she had.

Speaking to CNS in response to a request for an interview, the former Grand Court judge revealed that the investigation and tribunal had been a very difficult period in her life but she was not seeking to dispute the Privy Council judgment. “I have the utmost respect for their lordships and their findings,” Levers said.
The details of the investigation and the allegations were publicly revealed during the tribunal hearings, including some of Levers’ most private correspondence. She said that when her personal letters and even her dying wishes had been probed and scrutinised, it was exceptionally hurtful. Levers described being ostracised and humiliated and made to feel as though she had committed a serious criminal offence on occasion.
“The way I have been treated over the last two years has not been pleasant,” Levers stated. “I felt, at times, it was unnecessarily harsh, especially when my personal correspondence was probed and even my dying wishes were made public, which, I do not believe usefully, supported any allegation against me,” she said.
The former judge noted that, despite the considerable violation of her privacy as part of the tribunal’s enquiry and the scrutiny of her mail and private correspondence, the evidence was not even considered by the Privy Council in its final judgment.
Levers said that during the investigation she had not only found support from her family and friends but she was also surprised to have found immense support from her defence team of Stanley Brodie and Anthony Akiwumi, who she said helped her maintain some dignity in what were sometimes truly humiliating moments. She also added that since the Privy Council’s decision, Governor Duncan Taylor had treated her with great courtesy.
Although Levers has only one kidney, the former judge said she had found the strength to get through and learned that she had considerably more resilience than she herself had even been aware.
Now as the ordeal is over, Levers, reflecting on the ruling, said she was relieved the Privy Council had at least repaired some of the damage to her reputation in the wake of the tribunal’s condemnation. The PC had acknowledged her legal acumen and she pointed out that none of her judgments were in question. The hundreds of rulings she had made since coming to the Cayman Islands had been upheld she observed, even the more than 45 cases made during the year she was on dialysis.
Levers said she was also gratified that the PC had sought to point out that she had high standards and she said she still believed high standards were important anywhere but even more so in a small jurisdiction.
The comments that she had made in court, which she said had been misinterpreted, came, she explained, from a genuine desire to reform the people who had come before her. However, Levers made it clear she was not trying to justifying anything and admitted what she said was inappropriate and deeply regretted any offence those remarks caused, despite her not having intended any.
“One has to be particularly careful how one expresses oneself as one can see how it is easy to be misunderstood,” she said. “Clearly my use of the term ‘you people’ was construed as offensive when it was meant to be nothing more than a casual if inappropriate use of a common term in Jamaica.”
She said she believed that judges should, and could, make social comment and that the Privy Council had not suggested judges shouldn’t talk about society’s ills but that in her case the manner in which she made her comments was found to be unacceptable.
The Privy Council said that there was a large body of statements from people who had known and worked with her showing that she has many admirable qualities. “She is a sound lawyer. She is industrious and she sets high standards,” the PC judgment stated. “Levers J has high standards and shows strong disapproval for those whom she does not consider measure up to them.”
The UK judges went on to say that the disapproval extended both to some who have appeared in her court and to her own colleagues. “Unfortunately she has not kept that disapproval to herself. It has led her repeatedly to make in court comments that have ranged from the inappropriate to the outrageous about those who have appeared before her and, on two occasions, about her judicial colleagues.”
Levers said she regretted airing her concerns to staff at the court and noted that if the Judicial and Legal Services Commission had been in place when her own problems first arose, she would have had an independent channel to air grievances and, as it turned out, for others to air theirs about her.
“An independent channel would have been very helpful in this situation,” Levers added. “The introduction of this commission will make a significant and positive difference. I believethey will set new standards for the jurisdiction in the future. Not that my opinion really counts anymore but I think the pre-eminent men and the one woman who have been appointed are excellent choices.”
When asked about her own position as a woman on the Grand Court bench in a profession still dominated by men, Levers said she did not believe her gender really played a part in the events which surrounded her departure. “I have never felt it is detrimental to be a woman,” she added and said that all judges of both genders are not immune from, at times, making inappropriate comments.
Looking to the future Levers said she has many things to now consider, and while writing a book is not out of the question, she says she is looking forward to a quieter time. A Jamaican national, Levers was born in Sri Lanka, where she says she intends to visit shortly to sort out the affairs of her late brother, who died very recently and for whom she has had littleopportunity to grieve as a result of the tribunal.
Levers was called to the bar in England in 1967 and practised as an attorney in Sri Lanka, England and Bermuda. In 1977 she married a Jamaican and moved to Jamaica, where she practiced for the next 27 years before being invited to in 2002 to sit as an additional judge of the Cayman Islands Grand Court. She was appointed permanently to the bench in the following year.

Read the Privy Council Judgment 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Category: Headline News

About the Author ()

Comments (25)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Brainy Smurf says:

    Can you Hear it?

    I’m playing the world’s smallest violin!


  2. Anonymous says:

    I have no mercy for Judge Levers whatsoever, she got deservedly some of what she constantly dished out in court on a regular basis. I am happy to hear her say she felt disgraced and humilated, because i know first hand that i was made to feel that way by her on a number of occasions. 

    I have heard police officers and ordinary  witnesses who dreaded when they had to appear in this woman’s court because of her behaviour towards them. she was a brash and  VERY unfair judge and i am glad to know that she won’t permitted to sit anymore……As the old saying goes good riddance!!! 

  3. Anon says:

    "Levers described being ostracised and humiliated and made to feel as though she had committed a serious criminal offence on occasion."

    That’s exactly how you made many who stepped into your courtroom feel – even when they were not on trial.  A taste of your own medicine perhaps?

    "She said she believed that judges should, and could, make social comment.."

    I believe judges should, and could refrain from making social  comment.  To do so would be very unprofessional, undiplomatic and untoward.  You were employed to give sound professional legal judgment only and thats where the buck stops.  You are not God.  What you may see as a social good, may not be seen so by others.  And to make such judgments and air them in a courthouse is both insensitive and beyond the scope of your remit.

    • a Former Cayman Attorney says:

      "That’s exactly how you made many who stepped into your courtroom feel – even when they were not on trial.  A taste of your own medicine perhaps?"

      I appeared before her as an attorney any number of times, with all the scorn and sarcasm that goes with walking into her courtroom.  As a member of the profession I just took it as the normal course of my business (we grow pretty thick skin fairly quickly) and carried on unimpeded, but the idea that members of the public had that heaped upon them spoke very poorly of the judicial process as administered in that room.  Ctizens deserve respect and fair treatment in a court of law, even if (or especially if) you are on the wrong end of the lawsuit, divorce or criminal prosecution. 

      Citizens need to know that they lost (or won) because of the operation of the RULE OF LAW, applied without even a suggestion that they lost (or won) because of the judge’s personal bias or perspective.

      A particularly nasty comment was that "Jamaican men always cheat on their wives, it’s part of their culture".   Woe be to the Jamaican man trying to get a fair trial where their sexual conduct is in issue.  Social commentary like that, whether supported by statistics or not (and I have no information on that), should never ever come out of a judge’s mouth.

  4. Anonymous says:

    "All judges…are not immune from making inappropriate comments at times.."  BS. Lots of judges manage not to express outrageous, bigoted statements from the bench. Moreover, she got treated with a lot more dignity during her so called "ordeal" than she extended to the people in her court room according to the PC ruling. And got paid throughout.

  5. Tami says:

    Levers:  “The way I have been treated over the last two years has not been pleasant…”

    A constant reminder to those who sit as Judge here, who choose to judge people unfairly with no regard of the negative impact a case may have on thier personal lives.

    You want to be harsh and indifferent?

    Well there is a saying: 


    • Anonymous says:

      I once sat in the public section of a court in another country(nearby) and herd a judge said to a defendant: "I think you are lying, after all you xxxxxx(refering to his race ) make very good liers". "Ibelieve the policeman’s story". Yet no disciplinary action was taken against this Judge which I understand was because of Judicial priviledge which judges and lawyers and their clients enjoy. I thought that was pathetic coming from a Judge.

  6. My2cents says:

    There is no excuse for how you behaved and what you did.

    Just go.

  7. 911 HELP says:

    I might get shot down for this but who cares  I am going to say it I like justice Levers and i sat thru a whole case 3 weeks long and we were proud of her and the out come of the case which could had been a lot worse.Good luck in your future judge Levers .

  8. durrrr says:

    "When asked about her own position as a woman on the Grand Court bench in a profession still dominated by men, Levers said she did not believe her gender really played a part in the events which surrounded her departure. “I have never felt it is detrimental to be a woman,” she added and said that all judges of both genders are not immune from, at times, making inappropriate comments."

    Of course gender played a part. This case was really all about b!tchin’ and gossipin’ – two of women’s greatest pastimes.

    But I guess it’s really man’s fault, for letting them out of the kitchen.

    • Anon says:

      unless i misunderstand you, you sounds like a typical small minded male. I’m a Caymanian woman and your comment is insulting. But i wish you the best and a good woman who is familiar with the metaphorical ‘kitchen’ and even more so familiar with the laxatives she’ll slip in your food every time you treat her like not worth being useful anywhere but the kitchen.

      because one woman messed up we’re all the same huh? ignorant

      • durrrr says:

        It’s a simple fact that we wouldn’t have half the problems that we currently face in Cayman if it wasn’t for "equal rights" and women interfering in men’s work. Look how much better things were in the old days, when women stayed home, raised the kids, and had a healthy, home-cooked meal on the table ready for when her husband got home from work. These days the kids are raised by the helper and fed on fast food, it’s no wonder we’re raising generation after generation of fat idiots.

        • Anon says:

          oh god you should stop commenting cuz you’re obviously a XXXXX misogynist who’s obviouslynever met a REAL woman. I can at least say I’ve met real men who don’t feel insecure at the sight of an intelligent, hard working and driven woman.  You don’t do your gender proud.

          If I haven’t learned anything about my mothers generation it’s that they didn’t have the opportunities we have and felt they had to marry because they lacked opportunities and economy to reach their full potential.  That’s why they worked so hard so we’d be able to do what they couldn’t.

          ps: these days, unless your well off, neither husband or wife are able to stay at home with the kids because it’s necessary for both to work. I do hope you’re joking because the only explanation for your narrow-mindedness is that your 160 years old stuck in the dark ages or the 60’s.

          Do shut up

          • Anon says:

            Oh god I think you should stop biting the bait!  The poster is so obviously fishing and you are being reeled in big time!

            • Anon says:

              but i’m having oh so much fun…better to reject the stupidity than ignore it..if u don’t like the debate don’t read it

          • Pauly Cicero says:

            Damn that’s sexy! Would you make me a sandwich?

  9. Nonnie Mouse says:

    More of what brought her down in the first place – not a whiff of an apology to the Cayman Islands or its people.  Such arrogance.  In fact she does not even accept she was wrong.

    Farewell.  You were wrong and you were awful at your job.

    • TennisAce says:

       How many times was she supposed to say she was sorry?  What people are forgetting is that most of us what she said is always uttered by other members of  Cayman society.  How soon we forget when a former Chairman of the Work Permit Board said that Jamaicans should leave because they would turn Cayman into a welfare state.  I do not recall hearing any apology coming from him or indeed anyone asking him to apologise for anything that he said. 

      As my mother would say, to err is human, to forgive divine.  One hopes that those who are so quick to condemn this woman do not live in glass houses. 

      • Nonnie Mouse says:

        "How many times was she supposed to say she was sorry?"  Just once would do – once clearly without self-justification or reservation.  She has not come even close to that yet.

      • Anonymous says:

        To the extent it is relevant, no-one should ever have to apologise for telling the truth, even if it hurts.

      • Dnt 4get Me says:

         What you’re forgetting is she is not just another member of society.  Not every person sits on the bench.  As a result she is held (and should conduct herself) in higher esteem.  

        This is why you have qualified individuals to judge her just as she has done with "those people". 

        XXXXXXXXX Your personal tactless demeanor should not follow you to the court room.

      • Anonymous says:

        There you go again. The former chairman of the Work Permit Board said no such thing. You insist on repeating this falsehood although you have previously been corrected. He made the entirely correct and proper observation that if low wage earners who have no means to support themselves upon retirement are given permanent rights then they will become dependent upon the govt. which we can ill-afford. You are trying to twist what is a self-evident observation into a racist comment. The only apologies due are from you to him for libel. 


        • Anonymous says:

          Dead right.

          See http://www.caymannetnews.com/cgi-script/csArticles/articles/000063/006384.htm

          and http://www.caymannetnews.com/cgi-script/csArticles/articles/000110/011030.htm

          This extract summarises the matter:

          "Furthermore, the Chairman of the Work Permit Board, David Ritch, has stated numerous times that low paid workers such as gardeners and domestic workers are less likely to have significant pensions and savings to take care of themselves when they get older and could result in straining Government social services in Cayman. These comments have stirred up resentment, especially among the Jamaican community, which makes up the largest percentage of work permit holders and people working in the lower paying jobs".

          It is disingenuous to reduce that to "Jamaicans should leave because they would turn Cayman into a welfare state", but the racism card was played  (particularly by the Net News) in an effort to have the policy reversed.

    • Leave her alone says:

      Nonnie and others,

      You need to get off your not so high horse.  I dont know if I was reading the same article that you were reading but I read about a woman that XXXXXX has certainly been humbled by the whole ordeal. XXXXX

       As for awful at her job, you all complain about the cases being backed up for too long, if it were not for this lady then it would have been much further behind.  And never mind that the PC commended her for her hard work and high standards and that her judgments were sound and also upheld in the Appeals courts.  

      You people (hope I dont get in trouble too for using that phrase lol, not!!!) are just unbelievable but then again what can you expect; Jesus was perfect and they still nailed him to the cross.

      As humans we all make mistakes in life and since having a loose tongue is all that she is guilty of then my goodness leave her alone.  I think that she has had her 15 minutes of bashing and humiliation and learnt from the ordeal.

      Move on to the next big headline nah. It is suppose to be the Caymanian thing that we forgive and move on right.

      I can just imagine the tongue lashings I will get for this but I dont care cuz its the truth. 

      • Alan Nivia says:

        "It is suppose to be the Caymanian thing that we forgive and move on right."  It is easy to prove that is nonsense in two words.  Status grants.