Governor Stuart Jack confirmed one of Cayman’s worst kept secrets Wednesday, acknowledging he has suspended Grand Court Justice Priya Levers pending an investigation into complaints against the judge.
Justice Levers has not appeared in court for almost two months and has been listed as writing judgements on Grand Court schedules since 11 August.
In a statement Tuesday Mr. Jack said he has established a Judicial Tribunal to investigate complaints against Justice Levers that he received in April. He did not outline the nature of the complaints.
‘Having given the matter the most careful consideration, I have appointed a Tribunal under the relevant provisions of the Constitution to inquire into the matter and report back to me,’ the statement said.
‘I have suspended Madam Justice Levers from performing her judicial functions whilst this process is taking place. I will keep the public informed about the Tribunal and I will provide further details in due course.’
An expected statement from a legal team representing Justice Levers had not been received at press time Tuesday.
The Tribunal will be chaired by the Rt. Hon. Sir Andrew Leggatt QC, a former Lord Justice of the UK Court of Appeal. The Governor did not state who else will sit on the tribunal.
Under the Cayman Islands Constitution, a judicial tribunal must consist of a chairperson and at least two other judges or former judges.
The role of the tribunal is to make a recommendation to the Governor on whether there are sufficient grounds for referring the question of the judge’s removal to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council for further consideration.
The announcement follows months of speculation about the judge’s position. That speculation in July led Chief Justice Anthony Smellie to issue a one-line statement denying Justice Levers had been suspended.
‘The reports that Justice Levers has been suspended are incorrect. The judge is presently away on leave,’ the Chief Justice said on 23 July.
A day later, on 24 July, a spokesperson for Mr. Jack confirmed the Governor had recently met with Justice Levers but said the meeting had not resulted in any substantive change in the judge’s employment situation.
‘As the Chief Justice said yesterday, Justice Levers is currently on leave. If there were to be any substantive change to the employment of any justice then the Governor would make a statement at that time,’ the statement said.
Justice Levers was sworn in as the Grand Court’s first female judge in March 2003, after 25 years of private practice in Jamaica.
The Sri-Lankan native and citizen of Jamaica also worked as a defence attorney in Bermuda before becoming that country’s first female Crown Counsel in 1973.
The judge has also worked as a barrister and attorney in England, Sri-Lanka and India and was admitted to the bar in the Cayman Islands in 1990.