An embattled Cayman Islands Grand Court justice, suspended back in September 2008, was dismissed from her position Friday, according to the following statement from the governor’s office:
“Following upon the advice of the Judicial
Committee of the Privy Council dated 29th July 2010, His Excellency
The Governor, Duncan Taylor CBE, having received and considered that advice has
in accordance with section 96(3) of the Cayman Islands Constitution Order 2009
removed Madame Justice Priya Levers from the Office of Judge of the Grand Court
of the Cayman Islands. This is effective from the 6th August 2010.”
That advice from the council committee, released in a report on 29 July, came after a Tribunal of Inquiry held last year in the Cayman Islands that looked into a number of issues regarding the justice’s performance.
The Privy Council committee stated that it was “most concerned with those
occasions when [Justice Levers] has been guilty in court of completely
inexcusable conduct that have given the appearance of racism, bias against
foreigners and bias in favour of the defence in criminal cases.
“They have been fatal flaws in a judicial career that has
had many admirable features,” it said.
In its advice, published following a four-day hearing in
London last month, the Privy Council determined that Justice Levers had shown
“bias and contempt for Jamaicans” and demonstrated misbehaviour that would “of
itself, have justified her removal from office”.
The committee was referring to a grievous bodily harm case
Justice Levers heard in which she asked why the victim, the Jamaican girlfriend
of the defendant, had not been sent “home”, described her as “a woman like that”
after hearing she was married to a Caymanian, and accused her of “spreading her
goodwill around”, which the committee said was a “clear allegation of
The committee described the judge’s comments about the
victim as “monstrous”.
The Privy Council found that the judge was also guilty of
serious misconduct on three occasions in cases heard in Family Court.
“She made offensive and racist comments to a Canadian
mother…, demonstrated a similar attitude in suggesting that a Filipino mother
go back to the Philippines and made a remark… which would be perceived as
outrageously racist and would be wholly unacceptable from the bench anywhere in
the world,” a summary of the Privy Council’s report stated.
The seven-member committee found that critical comments
Justice Levers made about fellow judges on two occasions in court constituted
“serious misconduct” in one case and were “inappropriate” in the
The report said that evidence from a number of witnesses
showed that after May 2007, Justice Levers had formed a powerful dislike of the
Chief Justice and some fellow judges. “She had disparaged them in private
conversations with others involved in court administration, which crossed the
line from indiscretion to become misconduct, although not misbehaviour
justifying removal from office on its own,” it said.
The committee, having read statements from many colleagues
and friends attesting to the judge’s good qualities, stated: “[Justice Levers]
has high standards and shows strong disapproval for those whom she does not
consider measure up to them. That disapproval has extended both to some who have
appeared in her court and to her own colleagues.
“Unfortunately she has not kept that disapproval to herself.
It has led her repeatedly to make in court comments that have ranged from the
inappropriate to the outrageous about those who have appeared before her and, on
two occasions, about her judicial colleagues.”