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Another technicality delays lawsuit against state

Hearing of the lawsuit brought against the State by former murder accused Frank Errol Gibson is yet to get started.

At the last sitting of the case in the No. 8 Supreme Court, Madam Justice Pamela Beckles had ordered legal representatives for the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to make a formal written application on the request for her to recuse herself from hearing the case.

That application and affidavit were filed on June 1, and oral submissions were expected to be heard by Principal Crown Counsel Alliston Seale Wednesday.

However, Gibson’s lead attorney Larry Smith objected on the grounds that “the utterances” which the Crown claims were made by the judge – the basis of the request for Beckles to recuse herself – were not specified in the affidavit.

“In the absence of those statements, it is our submission that the affidavit is scandalous and vexatious and ought to be struck out . . . [as it is] an abuse of process . . . because the foundation has not been laid,” Smith maintained, claiming that without the particulars, his side could not reply.

However, Seale made it clear that his team, which includes Deputy Solicitor General Donna Brathwaite, QC, had possession of the court transcript as a “clear and unadulterated” fact of what transpired on the day, and accused Smith of nitpicking.

“But he wants justice for Mr Gibson. How can we get justice if we can’t move forward? We will not be stopped in pursuit of justice, so if he comes now with any technicality . . . I can guarantee you, we shall return . . . I am not going to nitpick about the affidavit. If the court agrees that it is wrong, then it is wrong [and] we will return,” Seale maintained.

Adamant that his affidavit was “properly before the court”, Seale made it clear that he was ready to go forward and make submissions on the recusal issue.

“I thought that the best thing we would have is the actual transcript . . . because it is not simply a sentence, it is a context, it is the proceedings as the DPP saw it. “So, if he is prepared to hold on to every nook and cranny then we are prepared to go and come again, but I believe that this matter is properly before the court,” Seale said.

Justice Beckles, who was not happy that the case would not progress any further Wednesday, said she saw nothing wrong with the affidavit.

“They could have added a little bit more meat to it, but the transcript is [next to it],” she said, and ruled that the issue of the recusal would not be struck out.

“I am not dismissing any application. This matter will go forward.”

However, she ordered the Crown to supplement the original affidavit to include the utterances made.

They now have to make that submission on or before July 26, with Smith to reply by August 25. The matter was then adjourned to October 18.

Gibson is claiming damages in excess of $2 million in his lawsuit against the Office of the DPP and the Attorney General, as well as Dr Victor Eastmond, a principle witness in the murder case. He has alleged he was wrongfully charged, imprisoned and prosecuted for the 2002 murder of Francine Bolden. After Gibson was charged and placed on remand for the crime, DPP Charles Leacock, QC discontinued the case on November 8, 2012, on the grounds that there was insufficient evidence to make out a case beyond reasonable doubt.

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