A CANDIDATE for the 2020 general elections who last week complained on social media about his trial, apologised to the magistrate and the “court on a whole” for causing “upset”.
However, the reckless and false words of Asordo Bennett, who sat as an independent candidate for South Leeward in the 2020 general elections, has caused him to have to go back to square one with a different magistrate and defence attorney.
Bennett had used his Facebook page to post a lengthy statement detailing certain incorrect statements about the trial that has started at the Serious Offences Court (SOC) and about the way it was conducted.
The contents were brought to the attention of the court after the post was made early last week, and the defendant was summoned on Wednesday, March 30.
The following day, March 31, Chief Magistrate, Rechanne Browne told defence counsel Grant Connell that she had “expressed quite clearly to him how I felt about that.”
“I’m not one to peruse social media and rarely listen to radio programmes. So when this was brought to me I was quite taken aback by the contents because they were manifestly untrue,” she explained.
The magistrate also noted that when she took an oath as a judicial officer she took it seriously. “I cannot say enough how I felt by those utterances,” she continued.
Browne indicated that in the circumstances it would not be in the best interest for her to continue the matter.
Connell said that “as an officer of the court I must rise” to correct the error. He said that he is not on Facebook but the post has been drawn to his attention.
The lawyer conveyed that he spoke to his client who “has indicated that he is very sorry.”
In terms of what happened in court versus what was inferred in Bennett’s post, the lawyer confirmed that it “is at variance”. Connell noted that “It is a misunderstanding of what is applicable in the court. He was wrong.”
The lawyer also said, “It’s never too late for redemption. We are but spiritual beings on a human experience.”
He said that to say such things is unacceptable, adding a general comment about descending into a lawless society where anything goes.
“But there is no half right and half wrong. Wrong is wrong. Right is right.”
“…Such actions (by Bennett) are at striking variance with my advice,” Connell informed the court, adding that he has no choice but to make an application that he be removed from the record as the defendant’s lawyer.
“…So that he can have a fresh start. New magistrate, new prosecutor, new lawyer so no inferences could be drawn, no allegation made,” the attorney concluded.
During the discussion the Chief Magistrate also highlighted that criminal sanctions could be applied to such cases.
“People need to understand the sanctions that can be imposed by such actions. We have to stop,” Browne stated.
In the end, the matter was adjourned to April 8 and transferred to the Mesopotamia Magistrate’s Court.
However, Bennett also had a few words that he wanted to say.
“I’m genuinely sorry for anything that might get you upset… or the court or the attorney, the prosecutors, the court on a whole your worship,” Bennett told the magistrate. Connell observed that this sounded genuine.
The magistrate reminded the defendant of a children’s song that cautions one to be careful what they see, hear, say etc.
“It’s very much applicable at all stages. Be careful what you say,” she told him.