A senior Cayman Islands prisons official who was reinstated by a Grand Court order in June has been suspended from her job again pending another investigation by the prison service, the Cayman Compass has learned.
Aduke Joseph-Caesar, a deputy prisons director, was fired in November 2015 over an incident in which another prison staffer was videotaped during what was described as a covert investigation.
She was reinstated by a June 22, 2016 Grand Court order which stated she had never been officially terminated from her post and which further stated Ms. Joseph-Caesar: “remains engaged in the position of deputy director of prisons until such time as she resigns or her employment is lawfully terminated.” The government was ordered to make back payments of salary and pay for Ms. Joseph-Caesar’s lawyer bills, which totaled $24,000.
On July 1, an email sent to prison staff managers by Director Neil Lavis indicated that the ruling of the Grand Court did not mean Ms. Joseph-Caesar was returning to work at that time.
She was placed on required leave again on July 25 until the completion of the new investigation, her attorney Clyde Allen confirmed Monday.
Ms. Joseph-Caesar foreshadowed her pending suspension in early July while commenting about the issue to the Compass: “I’m excited to continue the evidence-based rehabilitation work my team and I started, but I feel some amount of trepidation that this may be short-lived.”
Neither Mr. Lavis nor Ministry of Home Affairs Chief Officer Wesley Howell had commented on the suspension as of press time Tuesday.
Ms. Joseph-Caesar, touted to be a rising star as a young Caymanian in the prison service, was terminated over her role for video recording another prison employee in that employee’s office. The camera was set up inside an air conditioning duct.
When news of the investigation became public, Mr. Lavis said it was “regrettable” that the prison employee’s privacy had been invaded. Two other prison officers were suspended in connection with the same incident. It is understood that one of the officers has been reinstated and the other, the employee who was being videotaped, has left the prison service following the expiry of her contract.
Ms. Joseph-Caesar was terminated following a decision by former Home Affairs Chief Officer Eric Bush after a review of all the evidence.
However, according to various civil service employment laws governing the subject, while Mr. Bush had the authority as chief officer to appoint Ms. Joseph-Caesar to her deputy director job, he did not have the authority to terminate her employment. That authority is granted under the Prisons Law to the prisons director. Ms. Joseph-Caesar alleged in a request for judicial review, filed against the government in January, that this set of circumstances made her firing “illegal” and void.
“The chief officer [of the Ministry of Home Affairs] acted illegally when he decided to, and did, conduct disciplinary proceedings,” the judicial review filing states, indicating that these proceedings should have been instituted by Mr. Lavis.
It is understood that Mr. Lavis is not involved in the new investigation regarding Ms. Joseph-Caesar, but that an outside party has been named to review the case.