When Grand Court Justice Malcolm Swift concluded his last sentencing late Tuesday, court marshal Keon Ramoon stood up as if he were going to announce the adjournment. But instead of heading to the door of the judge’s chambers, he strode toward the door to the lobby, opened it wide and stepped back for the stream of lawyers who entered and took seats throughout the room.
Justice Swift watched the array of Crown counsel and defense attorneys, most of whom were in full gown and wig attire. Finally he remarked, “This must be a multi-handed case.” Laughter erupted.
Director of Public Prosecutions Cheryll Richards commented that the look on Justice Swift’s face suggested that participants had kept their appearance a surprise. The judge agreed.
After Ms. Richards and senior defense attorney John Furniss offered their congratulation and warm wishes for a happy retirement, Justice Swift offered a few surprises of his own.
He complimented the attorneys and told them, “The standard of advocacy here in Grand Cayman is very high indeed, and every time I return to the U.K. I tell everyone that they should get themselves out here and see how the job should be done.”
Replying to Mr. Furniss’s invitation to come back to Cayman and visit, Justice Swift revealed that he and his wife will be living in Grand Cayman during England’s winter months for the foreseeable future. “We have fallen in love with the place entirely and decided that it’s not only therapeutic for me, but it’s good for both of us to spend a considerable amount of time here.”
His remarks were met with a standing ovation.
In their tributes to Justice Swift, who began stints as a visiting judge in 2013, Ms. Richards and Mr. Furniss emphasized what both the Crown and defense had learned from him. “The jurisprudence of the Cayman Islands has been developed and is all the better because of My Lord’s input,” Ms. Richards asserted. She said many people had been impacted positively by the care with which he had carried out his duties.
Ms. Richards described his sound knowledge of the law, his fairness and firmness as reasons why he was so highly regarded by both the public and private bar, in both criminal and civil matters.
Mr. Furniss said it had been an education to watch and hear Justice Swift’s “calm, polite and thoughtful manner when dealing with defendants and their advocates.”
Some of the cases on which Justice Swift left what Ms. Richards referred to as his “indelible mark” included the largest personal injury award in the Cayman Islands – in excess of $6 million for the victim who was 12 years old when he sustained a severe brain injury in a boating accident.
He sentenced an attorney to three years’ imprisonment for reckless driving and causing grievous bodily harm to two tourists when his car hit them on the West Bay Road sidewalk. The Cayman Islands Court of Appeal upheld both the conviction and the sentence.