$1M for Levers Tribunal

Governor Stuart Jack has told Cabinet the price-tag for a Judicial Tribunal looking at misbehaviour allegations against Grand Court Justice Priya Levers could be $1 million.

According to the tribunal’s terms of reference, released Friday, the body will be asked to examine whether the judge’s behaviour toward other court staff, judges, attorneys and witnesses warrants her removal from office.

‘[The tribunal] is requested to consider allegations that between August 2005 and April 2008 Madam Justice Levers’ conduct, manner and behaviour towards witnesses, attorneys, court staff and judges officiating in the Cayman Islands was such as, when taken together, amount to misbehaviour,’ the terms of reference stated.

The body is asked to report back to Mr. Jack on whether the judge’s conduct, taken as a whole, fell below the standard reasonably to be expected of a Grand Court Justice, so as to warrant proceedings for her removal.

If the tribunal decides the judge’s behaviour does warrant removal proceedings, the matter will then be referred to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.

In his first statement on the tribunal since formally suspending Justice Levers on 16 September, Mr. Jack made two further appointments to the body; Sir Philip Otton, a Privy Counsellor and former Lord Justice of Appeal and Sir David Simmons, the Chief Justice of Barbados. They join Sir Andrew Leggatt QC, also a Privy Counsellor and former Lord Justice of Appeal, who will chair the three-member tribunal.

While Mr. Jack has told Cabinet the tribunal could cost $1 million, Simon Tonge, a spokesperson for the Governor, on Monday described the figure as a very rough estimate. A firmer cost estimate is being put together that will go to Cabinet as soon as possible, he said.

The tribunal will begin hearings 24 November, although it remains unclear whether the tribunal will proceed in public or behind closed doors. While recent Judicial Tribunals in Trinidad and Tobago and Gibraltar have happened in public, Mr. Jack has left it up to the tribunal to decide how it will conduct the investigation and what evidence it considers necessary.

It his statement Friday, Mr. Jack said the tribunal will sit for up to three weeks and is expected to report back to him within three months.

Justice Levers has denied the misbehaviour allegations and has publicly vowed to defend herself to the fullest extent of the law.

Mr. Jack’s 16 September announcement that he had suspended Justice Levers capped months of speculation over the judge’s position.

That speculation on 23 July forced Chief Justice Anthony Smellie to issue a one-line statement in which he said, ‘The reports that Justice Levers have been suspended are incorrect. They judge is presently away on leave.’

Prior to 16 September, Mr. Jack had refused to confirm anything was amiss with the judge, despite her having not appeared in court for almost two months. She had been listed as writing judgements on Grand Court Schedules from 11 August until being formally suspended on 16 September.

Officials have said Justice Levers’ suspension is completely unrelated to last week’s arrest of another Grand Court Justice, Alexander Henderson, on suspicion of misconduct in a public office.

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