Basseterre, St. Kitts, October 11, 2018 – Although Chief Justice of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme court, Dame Janice Pereira was at pains to complain that the bulk of pending appeals from the High Court in St. Kitts and Nevis to the Court of Appeal are not progressing for lack of transcripts, appeals by Prime Minister Dr. Timothy Harris against recent decisions of a High Court judge which went against him, have been fast tracked by the Court of which his sister, Janine Harris-Lake, is the Court Registrar, again highlighting the issue of nepotism and corruption at the highest level.
The August 31, 2018 rulings of Justice Pearletta Lanns in the Freedom FM/Denzil Douglas/Nigel Carty/Charles Jong matters, which went against Dr. Harris in which he has to pay costs, have found themselves on the docket for a Court of Appeal Chamber hearing an October 23, just after a mere six weeks.
Of the 11 matters for the St. Kitts and Nevis Circuit, three of the cases involve Prime Minister Harris in which he seeks Leave to Appeal High Court rulings.
Besides the two Freedom FM matters, there is a third civil matter between Dr. Harris and Dr. Douglas.
In separate 16-page judgments on August 31, 2018, Justice Lanns ruled that the application brought by Dr. Harris to strike out, did not have any merit and that they were brought very late.
Angelina Gracey Sookoo-Bobb, one of the lawyers for the defendants said Dr. Harris was asking to basically have a mini trial and determine the issues in favour of Dr. Harris, without affording the defendants an opportunity at an actual trial to defend themselves.
The applications of Dr. Harris were dismissed and the judge ordered the Prime Minister to pay costs.
In her address to mark the recent opening of the 2018/2019 Law Year at the Lee Llewellyn Moore Judicial and Legal Services Complex in St. Kitts, the Chief Justice spoke of the frustrations currently experienced by litigants and practitioners, as well as judges, with the current incapacity of the court offices across many Member States to produce transcripts of court proceedings.
“If justice is not properly accessible at the bottom levels of the justice system, then there can be no accessibility at any level of the justice system. Access to justice is not calibrated to flow from the top down but from the bottom up,” said Chief Justice Pereira, as she used the public opportunity “again to urge the Governments of the Member States and Territories to support the Court in these initiatives in order to improve for its people, their ability to access justice and ensure a better quality of justice