The Manatt Dudus Enquiry: In the dark and out of the loop….

The Commission of Enquiry continues, but even K.D. Knight could not provide much to laugh about this week. It was mostly sort of dull and devious, without even a hint of the spirit of Fling The Bottle.

Giving testimony this week Feb 28 to Mar 3, 2011 :-

Lackston Robinson, the Deputy Solicitor-General

 

If Solicitor-General Douglas Leys was a sad, bewildered witness, consider the unfortunate history of Mr. Robinson. He filed suit against the Government in 2002, after the PNP Solicitor-General Michael Hylton refused to allow him to act as his deputy on the grounds that Mr. Robinson was “not fit for the job“. This odious assessment of Mr. Robinson was backed up the Chairman of the Public Services Commission (PSC), Daisy Coke, who said he was “inappropriate for the post”.

The legal battle between Mr. Robinson and his employers dragged on for years, and was only settled in August 2007 when the Supreme Court ruled that the PSC had breached the rules of natural justice when it retired Mr. Robinson “in the public interest”. The Supreme Court ordered that he be reinstated and paid damages for loss of  salary and benefits. However,  by December 2007, the PSC still had NOT reinstated Mr. Robinson and was trying to transfer him out of the Attorney-General’s offices.

But all was not lost for Lackston Robinson. The new Prime Minister Bruce Golding rode to the rescue, fired the Public Services Commission, made sure that Mr. Robinson became Deputy Solicitor General, and appointed Lackston Robinson’s old pal, Douglas Leys, as his boss and Solicitor-General.

Great, right ? Justice is finally served ! Yeah, right. Michael Hylton, Daisy Coke and the PNP government are long gone, but it turns out Lackston Robinson’s friends are just as bad as his enemies.

Lackston Robinson represented by R.N.A. Henriques came to the Commission to give evidence that:

  1. The extradition request for Dudus Coke submitted in August 2009 was flawed because the evidence was illegally obtained and therefore Dudus’ rights were breached when he was extradited. Robinson still doesn’t know why, and has never been told, on what basis the Minister of Justice signed the extradition order.
  2. He, Lackston Robinson, was never shown the MOU’s in full and was only shown one paragraph of one MOU by his boss, Douglas Leys.
  3. He didn’t know anything about the hiring of Manatt in September or December 2009 and he never, in fact, saw any of the emails between Douglas Leys, Harold Brady and Manatt, Phelps and Phillips even though Douglas Leys claimed to have copied him on the emails.

Lackston Robinson was kept in the dark and out of the loop by his bosses (Leys, Lightbourne). End of his testimony and end of his sad story….. But perhaps he can take comfort in the fact that Douglas Leys and Dorothy Lightbourne were themselves being kept in the dark and out of the loop by the Prime Minister himself.

For example, Douglas Leys was busy considering hiring Manatt in December 2009 when Manatt had already been retained and paid by Harold Brady, Bruce Golding and Daryl Vaz back in September 2009. And Dorothy Lightbourne spent nine months making public legal pronouncements about Dudus’ constitutional rights and how she would not sign the extradition order, only to have the PM announce on national television that he “had told her to sign the extradition order” and she signed it….

Friendly banter with Karl Samuda


Next up was Minister Karl Samuda, former General Secretary of the JLP. Karl Samuda is the very definition of a good old boy and his presence caused K.D. Knight and Patrick Atkinson to revert to being good old boys themselves.

After a small show of antagonism early on, the questions and answers proceeded very much as if being conducted over a few drinks and among old friends. As part of the all-lads-together good fellowship, Samuda became the first of his JLP colleagues to admit to knowing Dudus. He also jokingly encouraged Patrick Bailey, the lawyer for Ronald Robinson, to see if the JLP would pay his fees.

Commissioner Emil George repeatedly said he could not hear what was going on between Minister Samuda and the lawyers cross-examining him, only to be told that it was just some friendly banter……

Lieutenant Colonel Patrick Cole : I did not speak to that woman

For some reason, Lieutenant Colonel Cole, the legal officer for the JDF, was recalled to give evidence again. He gave the same evidence as before and with the same calm politeness. Love that JDF discipline! It is one of the many pieces of conflicting evidence at the Enquiry. The Senior Deputy Director of Public Prosecution, Lisa Palmer-Hamilton, and Lt. Col. Cole, agree that he never spoke to the Minister of Justice and A.G. Dorothy Lightbourne on August 25, 2009 (the day the extradition request for Dudus was received) but Dorothy Lightbourne is insisting that this conversation took place…It’s still not clear (to me, anyway) why this is is such an important piece of evidence…

The lady-in-chief, Minister of Justice and Attorney-General Dorothy Lightbourne

This witness has only given evidence for one day so far. It was a very long day as her lawyer, Dr. Lloyd Barnett, led her through her testimony. So only a few observations:

There’s a reason why she’s known as Dodo….she is clearly somewhat slow for the lawyer who acts as chief law officer for the Government of Jamaica, especially a government filled with so-sharp-they-might-cut-themselves chaps like Daryl Vaz and James Robertson…..

In addition to being a little dim, she thinks it shows her in a good light to claim that she  had to constantly remind her staff about “proper behaviour and proper procedure“. According to her, from Day One of the Dudus saga, she was admonishing Lt. Col. Cole, Solicitor-General Douglas Leys and numerous other functionaries on how to behave and how to do their jobs. In short, she was the nagging-nitpicking-boss-from-hell …..no wonder everyone kept her in the dark and out of the loop.

Everyone but Dodo understood that the Coke extradition had to be handled carefully and quickly. The JDF, the JCF and the DPP’s office were ready to arrest him the same day the extradition request arrived, while, for his part, the Prime Minister showed zero inclination to rely on the legal skills of Dodo and Douglas, and hired Manatt less than 2 weeks later.

Next week: More Lady-in-Chief…

 

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