Court staff differ on letters

Another court employee said this week she thinks Justice Priya Levers was the author of a series of letters to the Cayman Net News in June and July 2007 slamming members of the Cayman Islands judiciary.

Yasmin Ebanks, the courts listing officer, said she was suspicious partially because Justice Levers would call her asking if she had seen the letters in question in the paper.

‘The contents of these letters were things that Justice Levers would say … and I figured that she is showing too much interest in these letters,’ Mrs. Ebanks said.

Mrs. Ebanks’ account closely mirrored that given Saturday by Justice Levers’ long-time secretary, Elizabeth Webb.

Mrs. Webb told the tribunal her suspicions that Mrs. Levers was the letter writer were confirmed when she saw a hand written note, in the judge’s handwriting, addressed ‘to the editor’ and signed ‘Leticia Barton’. About two weeks later the name appeared under a letter in the Net News criticising Cayman’s judiciary. Justice Levers denies ever writing the letters.

Judge had standards

Court Clerk Lorna Allen, another witness Monday, said she does not believe Mrs. Levers was the letter writer and hadn’t heard the judge criticise her judicial colleagues in the way other witnesses have claimed.

‘She was upset about all the letters that were being published … criticising the judiciary,’ said Mrs. Allen. ‘Se said that she would actually speak to the chief justice about these matters because something had to be done about them.’

Mrs. Allen also questioned the motives of two Canadian court reporters that have complained about the judge, saying they disliked Justice Levers because she rebuked them for wearing knee-length skirts and sleeveless shirts.

‘That is not acceptable in her court,’ Mrs. Allen said.

She disagreed with claims from court reporters that the judge was biased against women, Crown counsels and people of certain nationalities, saying Mrs. Levers was fair to all, but would not tolerate unprepared attorneys, inappropriately dressed police officers or Crown counsels that kept doctors that were appearing as witnesses waiting.

‘She has certain standards for her court room and you have to actually keep up to those standards,’ Mrs. Allen said.

Canadian mother

Also appearing via video-link Monday was a Canadian mother who said the judge had made derogatory remarks towards her in a child custody case.

The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, told the tribunal the judge at one point said ‘How am I to know that you are, in fact, a good mother? You are obviously a liar.’

In another instance, she claimed the judge said ‘you people come here and have babies for these men and then leave thinking someone else will raise their children up in Canada. I suppose you have no money either. There is, after all, a welfare system in Canada.’

The woman’s lawyer, Zena Merren, in a statement to the tribunal, said she remembers the judge referring to her client as ‘you people’, but does not recall the other comments her client has complained of.

After losing her case, the woman later approached Canadian QC and former Cayman Islands judge Dale Sanderson about bringing an appeal against Justice Levers’ order in a Canadian court.

Mr. Sanderson – who Mrs. Levers’ lawyers have accused of conspiring to undermine Mrs. Levers – decided it would not be appropriate for him to represent the woman, but agreed to pass her complaint onto Chief Justice Anthony Smellie.

Her appeal to have the order changed in a court in British Columbia, Canada, was ultimately unsuccessful.

‘That’s the problem isn’t it? That’s what rankles you,’ said Stanley Brodie QC, for Justice Levers. ‘You have failed to get the order you wanted?

‘There are two issues at hand, I believe,’ the woman said. ‘There is the order and I did not agree with the order, and there was the conduct (of the judge).’

Mr. Brodie responded: ‘The complaints you are making about Madam Justice Levers have absolutely no foundation whatsoever, have they?’

‘I think they do,’ the woman retorted..