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Magistrate made correct decision in former Registrar’s case


Fri Oct 17, 2014

Editor: As an officer of the court I do not normally comment on decisions made by judges and magistrates, but I thought it was fitting to make a statement on the decision by magistrate Carla James, because prior to her verdict, I read many adverse comments by Vincentians in the Tamara Gibson Marks case.{{more}}

I am of the view that the magistrate made a correct decision in not imposing a custodial sentence since a conviction has tarnished Mrs Gibson Marks’ name and profession and she might be disbarred, which by itself is a punishment. It is unfortunate that a few persons who are opposed to the Ralph Gonsalves administration were advocating jail time for the former registrar. They contended that the Court will favour her because her husband was a former ULP senator. What rubbish.

I hold no brief for Mrs Tamara Gibson Marks. I do not know her and have never even seen her, but I met her husband once in St thomas, US Virgin Islands many moons ago.

It is unfortunate that critics have to put a political slant to decisions and actions by government and even by judicial officers. Critics should know that there are at least four senior lawyers in St Vincent and the Grenadines who are still practising their profession although they were found guilty of wrongdoings – two went to court and the other two before the disciplinary committee. In fact, there are two others who were involved in a big financial scandal, but were never charged or disciplined.

A fine, totalling $10,500 for the two offences of theft and abuse of public office she pleaded guilty to, in my view, was appropriate and the DPP discontinued the other charge of false certification by a public officer.

Critics should examine the facts and circumstances before they make public critical statements, especially in court decisions.

I am an attorney for more than 35 years and have practised in several jurisdictions in the Caribbean, South and Central America, as well as in New York and Florida, and I fully endorse the learned magistrate’s ruling.

Oscar Ramjeet

Former Solicitor General and acting DPP of St Vincent and the Grenadines, former Solicitor General of Belize and former Assistant Attorney General and Administrative Law Judge in St Thomas, United States Virgin Islands