Williams, Churaman in verbal court clash
From the Courts
April 21, 2006

Williams, Churaman in verbal court clash

Chief Magistrate Simone Churaman found herself being challenged by a fired up lawyer last Tuesday.

“Mr. Williams, I am not going to tolerate your bullying,” Churaman stated.

She was responding to former Attorney General Arthur Williams who was representing a legal colleague in a court matter.{{more}}

Bertram Stapleton, recently called to the Bar here, is one of three persons accused of “Conspiracy to defeat the course of justice,” “Intentional disrespect of the court,” and “Conspiracy to commit an offence.”

The trio returned to the courtroom Tuesday after having first appeared at the Serious Offences Court last week Thursday.

The other two accused are Dexter Michael from the North Leeward Town of Chateaubelair and Kenneth Joof, a Nigerian born man who runs a Barber shop in China Town just outside the Central Police Station in Capital City Kingstown.

Williams’ entered the court room in Kingstown with the three accused already in the dock. Stapleton stopped his own representation on Williams’ arrival. But there was a chord of harmony between the accused lawyer and the man representing him.

“We want this matter transferred to another court. We fear partiality,” Williams declared.

Chief Magistrate Churaman wanted to know the “foundation” of Williams’ request, to which Williams replied: “Partiality means one thing.”

A former parliamentarian, Williams represented the West St. George constituency under the Robert Milton Cato regime from 1974 to 1984.

Williams explained to the Magistrate: “Your attitude to certain individuals is noted by everybody.”

Williams boasted of being at the Bar for 36 years and he insisted that Churaman transfer the matter.

The former AG suggested: “If someone says they don’t want you to hear their matter, I don’t see anything wrong with that.”

Churaman suggested one week’s adjournment and opted for a May 2 ruling.

“You have no choice,” Williams stated.

Churaman had apparently exhausted her patience and told the former AG: “I am not going to tolerate your bullying.”

The former AG threatened to go to the “Chief Justice.”

Churaman accused Williams of “shouting” but Williams persisted: “Just transfer it to another court.”

“No man could be judge in his own matter,” Williams outlined.

Signs of the impending drama had surfaced when the trio first entered the dock.

Stapleton had asked to be allowed to say something before the charge was read. But Sergeant Nigel Butcher, appearing on behalf of the Prosecution told the court that someone from the Director of Public Prosecution’s office was expected in court to deal with the matter.

Stapleton had set the tone that Williams continued.

He made his objection to Churaman hearing his case obvious. “I strongly believe that I would not get any justice in this court,” Stapleton pointed out.

He based his argument on “credible sources” who had reported to him. According to Stapleton, Churaman said that she did not like him, neither did she appreciate his attitude.

Stapleton suggested that there would be nothing short of contempt for him if she had to preside over his matter.

He cited that the Magistrate did not respond to his request for bail for a client in a matter when he appeared in a court in which she presided.

“The thought of standing before you as a defendant is frightening,’ Stapleton declared.

It was at that point that Williams entered. Stapleton stopped defending himself then and passed the proceedings over to Williams.