Scandal in judiciary claimed

Sex, drugs, gun highlight Levers’ case

Justice Levers

Justice Levers

Rumours of sexual affairs, drug use, and illegal gun possession within Cayman’s judiciary are all set to be aired in the upcoming Justice Levers Judicial Tribunal.

A summary of issues for the tribunal, obtained by the Caymanian Compass, includes a number of explosive claims the suspended judge is accused of making about top members of Cayman’s judiciary.

The document summarizes the original complaints presented against the judge and a provisional response from Justice Levers. It warns ‘it should not be read as endorsing as well-founded any of the allegations made by any party.’

Although more precise details of Justice Levers’ accusations are outlined in the document, the Caymanian Compass has decided not to print the names of those accused, at least until such time as the Tribunal has had a chance to weigh the evidence.

Outlined in the document are 35 areas of complaints against the judge that the Judicial Tribunal’s three members will have to consider when they decide whether to recommend Justice Levers’ removal from office.

Among the targets of Justice Levers’ gossip, according to the document, was Chief Justice Anthony Smellie, whose job she is accused of secretly coveting.

Justice Levers is said to have accused two top judges of affairs, another judge of drug use and another of bringing guns into the Cayman Islands. She is also said to have speculated about two judges abusing expense accounts and another of having a drinking problem.

The document also includes claims that Justice Levers was behind a series of letters published in the Cayman Net News in 2007 that were highly critical of members of the judiciary.

A string of cases in which Justice Levers is said to have been bias – particularly against women – and of ‘inappropriate’ courtroom behaviour, are also outlined.

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

It is the first time details of the case against the Judge have been publicly revealed.

Previous statements on the charges against the judge have only gone so far as to allege that ‘between August 2004 and June 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, [amounted] to misbehaviour.’

The letters

Lawyers for the governor claim Justice Levers was the author of a series of letters written to newspaper editors in July and August 2008 critical of the judiciary.

Those letters, all signed by different authors, were published on the Letters-to-the-Editor page of the Cayman Net News and were central to a UK Metropolitan Police Investigation that led to the arrest – later declared illegal – of another judge, Alexander Henderson.

Justice Levers is only directly accused of writing one letter, titled ‘judiciary is now a laughing stock’, that appeared in the paper bearing the signature of ‘Leticia Barton’. But it refers to five other letters that appeared in the paper, and claims that Justice Levers and a junior court clerk ‘acted in a suspicious manner’ in connection with the correspondence. Both deny involvement with the letters and dispute the witnesses’ credibility.

Further assistance on the letter’s authorship has been sought from Editor in Chief of the Net News, Desmond Seales, the document states, but he responded that the originals of the correspondences have been discarded and he is, at present, unable to assist further.

Bias claims

The document also details allegations of bias by the judge against women – many involved in family or sexual assault matters.

In a witness statement, one court reporter reportedly claims that in hearings before the judge ‘women in particular are insulted, castigated, demeaned and humiliated for no particular reason,’ the reporter claimed.

‘This results in such an unpleasant and unfair environment that people are traumatized after the experience.’

Another court reporter claims that Justice Levers ‘seemed to turn the focus of the proceedings onto the female victim and seemed to indicate that she had brought it upon herself.’

Among other ‘miscellaneous allegations’ made against Justice Levers is that she sent letters on behalf of her son seeking employment with local law firms; showed inappropriate favouritism towards certain lawyers appearing before her; and acted inappropriately by adopting a practice of requesting the arrest of jurors that failed to attend for jury service.

There also claims that the judge would have her secretary disseminate critical press coverage of other judges to other members of the legal profession.

The Tribunal is due to begin public hearings on 7 May before Tribunal Chair Sir Andrew Leggatt, a retired UK Lord Justice of Appeal, Sir Philip Otton, a Privy Counsellor and former Lord Justice of Appeal and Sir David Simmons, the chief justice of Barbados.

Justice Levers will be represented by English QC’s Stanley Brodie and James Eadie, as well as Cayman based attorneys Anthony Akiwumi and Waide DaCosta.

Justice Levers has been suspended on full pay since Governor Stuart Jack announced the establishment of the tribunal on 16 September. The tribunal ordered last month that the government pay the judge’s legal costs, which her lawyers have warned will be substantial.

Mr. Jack’s office has so far failed to provide an estimate of tribunal’s total cost, despite requests from the Caymanian Compass.