Attorney’s conviction to be appealed

UPDATE: Attorneys drug convictions quashed

Magistrate Grace Donalds convicted Caymanian attorney Patrick Gregory Schmid yesterday of possession and importation of .0085 of a gram of cocaine salt and .134 of a gram of methamphetamine, both of which are controlled drugs.

Defence attorney David McGrath gave immediate notice of appeal. He called the amounts of drug miniscule, one being a trace and the other negligible.

In mitigation, he asked for a fine as low as possible because the greatest punishment to the defendant would be on a personal and professional level.

The defendant is a former chairman of the National Drug Council and Cayman Against Substance Abuse.

Schmid was deputy chairman of the Immigration Board for two years and also served on the Immigration Review Task Force, the Labour Appeals Tribunal, the Development Advisory Board, the Planning Appeals Tribunal, the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme and various scholarship committees.

He was found guilty of having and importing the drugs when he arrived at Owen Roberts Airport on a flight from Miami on 31 July 2006.

In giving evidence last Friday, the defendant said the substance in a pill bottle was a metabolic enhancer he used with a protein supplement when working out in the gym.

The magistrate said she was unable to accept that he had no knowledge of the substances because his explanation failed to explain why two different substances were found.

What was in the pill bottle was in crystal form – the methamphetamine. A plastic bag in his luggage had a powdery substance in it – cocaine.

Her full reasons and her urging that Customs officers use pocket notebooks will be reported in the Caymanian Compass this week.

The magistrate imposed fines of $450 for importation of cocaine and $250 for importation of methamphetamine, with no separate penalty for the possession charges.

Charles Quin QC, president of the Cayman Islands Law Society, declined to comment about this specific case.

‘Mr. Schmid is entitled to appeal the decision and it would be premature to say anything else at this stage,’ he said.

In general, however, Mr. Quin noted that an attorney who stands convicted after exhausting the appeal process would expect disciplinary proceedings to consider the matter under the Legal Practitioners Law.

Mr. Quin did not say it, but the law includes provision for suspension from practice or ordering an attorney’s name to be struck from the roll.

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