Ex-judge Levers must depart, immigration says

Former Cayman Islands Grand Court
Justice Priya Levers will eventually have to depart the country following her
recent dismissal from the bench, Immigration Department officials have
confirmed.

A specific time line for the
departure was not given. However, Mrs. Levers does not have permanent residence
or Caymanian status that would allow her to remain on Island permanently
without an employment contract.

“Ms Levers’ immigration status has
been changed from that of a government contracted employee to that of a
visitor,” Chief Immigration Officer Linda Evans wrote in a response to
Caymanian Compass questions on the matter. “She has been given sufficient time
to sort out her personal affairs and depart.”

Visitors’ permits can be issued for
up to 30 days at a time, but Ms Evans gave no indication how long the former
judge could stay.

Generally, individuals who are not
Caymanian or those who are without permanent resident status cannot reside in
Cayman continuously. Those with property here can stay in the country up to six
months of the year on visitors permits as long as they do not work. 

Last Friday, 6 August, Governor
Duncan Taylor – acting on advice from a UK Privy Council committee – officially
terminated the embattled justice from her position. She had been on paid
suspension since 2008 while various allegations against her were heard, first
by a tribunal of inquiry and then by the Privy Council committee.

The advice from the council
committee, released in a report on 29 July, came after the tribunal held last
year in the Cayman Islands looked into a number of issues regarding the
ex-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 Caymanian Compass has attempted
to contact Mrs. Levers and her attorney numerous times for comment about the
Privy Council committee findings, but no response has been received.

In the tribunal of enquiry report,
which was released earlier this year, Mrs. Levers’ made representations based
on the testimony of 30 character witnesses who described her as “careful,
caring, sound, fair, impartial, attentive, courteous, dignified, and helpful”.

Mrs. Levers also noted to the
tribunal that she had been married to a Jamaican for 26 years, and had borne
three children in that country. 

“She emphasised these matters in
order to suggest that it is unlikely that she would have exhibited bias or
prejudice against Jamaicans,” the tribunal report stated.

The suspended judge also
represented that many of the allegations against her had come from court
reporters; people who may not have been qualified to judge Mrs. Levers’ conduct.
She said other complaints were from Crown Counsel or disgruntled litigants “who
feel badly done by”. 

The tribunal, led by Sir Andrew
Leggatt, noted that in many cases it reviewed, Mrs. Levers’ conduct on the
bench did not match her supporters’ descriptions.

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1 COMMENT

  1. While most visitor’s permits are issued for 30 days, a visitor can be issued permission to stay up to 6 months. I’ll be down later this week and won’t be leaving the island until October. No problems doing this in the past.

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