Levers tribunal starts today

The judicial tribunal set to hear allegations of misbehavior against Grand Court Justice Pryia Levers will start public hearings at the Marriot Beach Resort Thursday.

In a press release Monday, Tribunal Chairman Sir Andrew Leggatt said the tribunal will be open to the public from 9.30am Thursday.

The tribunal plans to sit on weekdays from 9.30am until 4.30pm and on Saturday 9 May from 9.45am to 1pm. The hearings are scheduled to conclude on Monday, 18 May.

Justice Levers will be represented by UK Barrister Stanley Brodie QC as well as local Attorney Anthony Akiwumi of Stuarts Walker Hersant.

Local law firm Campbells will represent a number of Grand Court judicial officers and staff members, the release stated – a fact that Chief Justice Anthony Smellie and Campbells have both previously refused to confirm.

UK Barrister Janine Sheff will fly to Cayman for the tribunal to appear as the legal representative of the Cayman Islands Government’s Legal Department.

UK Magic Circle law firm Clifford Chance is acting as solicitors to the tribunal, while London based QC Timothy Otty is the tribunal’s legal counsel.

Welcoming both members of the press and public to the tribunal, Mr. Leggatt said seating will be on a first-come, first-served basis and cannot be reserved.

Justice Levers has been suspended on full pay since Governor Stuart Jack announced the establishment of the tribunal on 16 September.

According to its terms of reference, the tribunal will be asked to consider whether Justice Levers’ behavior toward other court staff, judges, attorneys and witnesses warrants her removal from office.

The case against the judge, according to tribunal documents, includes claims she gossiped about top Cayman Islands judges being involved in affairs and criminal behavior; that she demonstrated bias – particularly against women – in cases before her; and that she was the author of a series of letters published in Cayman Net News in 2007 that were highly critical of members of the judiciary.

The Judge has vowed to ‘vigorously contest the unwarranted allegations of misbehavior made against her.’

Representatives of the Governor’s office have refused to give an estimate of the total cost of the tribunal, but have promised to do so once the proceedings are over.

The Cayman Islands’ budget contains $1.4 million for tribunal, but with expensive UK barristers and law firms involved and with government expected to pay at least 75 per cent of Justice Levers’ legal costs, the total price tag is expected to be much higher.

Also sitting on the tribunal will be Privy Council member and retired Lord Justice of Appeal Sir Phillip Otton and the Chief Justice of Barbados, Sir David Simmons.