Court urges lawyers to be more professional


Newly appointed judge Mathilda Twomey made the call while the court’s president Francis MacGregor gave examples of the kind of bad language used by some lawyers during the hearing of the nine cases the court reviewed.

“I feel compelled to comment on one element of these applications which have a direct bearing on this appeal and cross appeal,” said judge Twomey, as she read the court’s ruling by which it said the Constitutional Court has power to offer remedy even when not asked for, referring to an appeal by the former electoral commissioner Hendrick Gappy and the attorney general Rony Govinden against failed presidential election nominee Viral Dhanjee.

“I am dismayed at the cynical, sarcastic, disparaging and overall disrespectful statements contained in affidavits and statement in court by counsel during proceedings,” she said.
“In the practice of law it is the tradition of the noble profession of the bar to uphold the rule of law. It is a poor reflection of one’s professional and ethical standards to slip into attitudes, tones, language and vocabulary that do not befit the bar.

“It does good to neither the legal practitioner, nor the profession, nor the client, nor the law of law.”

Referring to court rules, Mrs Twomey said the court requires a minimum of respect and answers should not “traverse into extraneous matters”.

She said the professionalism of the bar is seriously called into question where ethics are not followed, threatening the administration of justice and “damaging the whole judicial process of which we all form part and strive to improve”.

Quoting the American Bar Association Canon of Ethics – “in the absence of a parallel code of conduct for the Bar Association of Seychelles – Mrs Twomey said:

“… it is the duty  of the lawyer to maintain towards the courts a respectful attitude … for the sake of maintaining its supreme importance”.

“Judges not being wholly able to defend themselves are peculiarly entitled to receive the support of the bar against unjust criticism and clamour,” she said, urging lawyers with grievances to submit them to proper authorities.

During the session – at which a lawyer’s mobile telephone rang out loudly – Mr MacGregor read out a number of sarcastic comments made during earlier hearings in the Supreme Court where a lawyer wanted a witness in a drug trafficking case to say if controlled delivery referred to a baby being born and where witnesses said the trafficker made contact with another, a lawyer had asked if it was a kiss or other kind of contact between a man and a woman.

There were originally 16 appeals before the court but only nine were dealt with as the applicants either requested adjournment or withdrew their cases.

Other cases finalised included one in which judge Twomey said she would set aside the conviction and sentence of Jerry Hoareau for drug trafficking, disagreeing with the prevailing majority ruling of judges Satyabhoosun Gupt Domah and Anthony Fernando.

The three judges dismissed the appeal of Garry Stephen in another drug-related case along with others.

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