Nicole Sylvester to represent Justice Leigertwood-Octave
March 8, 2013

Nicole Sylvester to represent Justice Leigertwood-Octave

The Directions Hearing of the tribunal appointed to investigate whether Justice Ianthea Leigertwood-Octave should be removed from office as a judge has been adjourned to 9:30 a.m. on April 3.{{more}}

When the tribunal met on February 27 in St Lucia, Justice Leigterwood-Octave was not represented, as her lawyer, Nicole Sylvester, had a family emergency which prevented her from being present.

A transcript of the Directions Hearing indicates that counsel to the tribunal Reginald Armour S.C. told the tribunal that Sylvester had confirmed that she represents Justice Leigertwood-Octave, but she could not be in St Lucia at that time, as she was in Trinidad with her 14-year-old son who was quite ill.

Armour said Sylvester requested an adjournment of the tribunal, but said she was unable at such short notice to make any alternative arrangements for someone to hold papers to make the application.

According to Armour, Sylvester said that before the tribunal embarks even on its procedural directions, there are “certain requests” that she wished to put before the tribunal.

Sylvester, however, did not divulge what those requests were, Armour said.

After conferring among themselves, the members of the tribunal agreed to adjourn the Directions Hearing to April 3.

They, however, ordered that all requests by, or on behalf of Justice Leigertwood are to be set out in writing and to be dealt with prior to the commencement of the Directions Hearing, together with a fully detailed supporting note and lodged with the Secretariat by March 25.

Chairman of the tribunal Justice Humphrey Stollmeyer also suggested that if Sylvester’s “difficulty is a continuing one”, Justice Leigertwood-Octave should consider alternative representation in time for the requests to be made on March 25 and for the Hearing to resume on April 3.

Justice Leigertwood-Octave agreed, saying, “…I will surely undertake to ensure that either through her or through other counsel that the requests and the basis for the requests are put in by that date. I do think that that should not be a difficulty.”

Before the adjournment of last week’s sitting of the Directions Hearing, Leigertwood-Octave sought clarification as to whether the tribunal is considered a public hearing.

“The short answer to your question is yes. That has certainly been both the practice and coming from the authorities over the years. It may not help any of us whatever, but yes, the short answer is yes,” Justice Stollmeyer said.

Chairman Justice Humphrey Stollmeyer is a retired Justice of Appeal of the Supreme Court of Trinidad and Tobago. The other members of the tribunal are Justice Karl Harrison, a retired Justice of Appeal of the Appeal Court of Jamaica and Justice Norma Wade-Miller, Senior Puisne Judge of the Supreme Court of Bermuda.

The tribunal was appointed by Chief Justice of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court Janice M. Pereira on December 7, 2012. The members of the tribunal will report their findings to the Chief Justice and recommend whether Justice Leigertwood-Octave should be referred by Her Majesty to the Judicial Committee.

The instruments of appointment say the members of the tribunal will investigate whether Justice Leigertwood-Octave ought to be removed from office for inability to discharge the functions of the office of High Court Judge of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court by “repeated long and persistent failure” in the period from conclusion of trials between 2006 and 7th December 2012 to deliver written reasons/judgements in matters over which she presided “within a reasonable time or at all”.

According to the instruments, written judgements have been outstanding or delayed for periods in excess of one year, to as much as seven years.

According to court papers, the judge’s failure persisted “notwithstanding being administratively de-rostered by the Chief Justice as a sitting judge in order to clear the backlog of the said unwritten judgments”.

The instruments also claimed that Justice Leigertwood failed “to co-operate with remedial efforts made by or under the direction of the Office of Chief Justice including, in many cases, failure to respond to that Office’s inquiries in respect of the said failure generally…”

Leigertwood-Octave is a Vincentian, who was appointed as a High Court Judge in 2006.