AG flays Magistrate for failing to uphold judicial precedence in Jordan’s case


See the full statement from the Attorney General, Anil Nandlall, below:

In recent times, I have been forced to undertake the unfortunate task to offer genuine critical commentary on the manner in which certain criminal cases are being adjudicated upon in the Magistracy. Another such occasion has regrettably presented itself.

My attention was drawn to a ruling delivered today by a learned Magistrate presiding at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Court in which the learned Magistrate upheld a no-case submission and discharged former Minister of Finance, Winston Jordan, in respect of the charge of Misconduct in Public Office relating to an act he allegedly committed while he was Minister of Finance. The learned Magistrate predicated her ruling on a finding in law that as Minister of Finance, Mr. Jordan was not a Public Officer, an important ingredient in the offence.

Based upon inquiries made, I am informed that the learned Magistrate received from the State written submissions supported by judicial authorities, including, a written ruling delivered by the Hon. Chief Justice (ag) Roxane George SC in the matter of Winston Brassington and Dr. Ashni Singh v Munilal Persaud, Commissioner of Police, Ann McLennan, Chief Magistrate and Shalimar Ali-Hack, Director of Public Prosecutions 2018-HC-DEM-CIV-FDA-757.

In this case, Dr. Ashni Singh was charged with the identical offence regarding certain acts he performed while he was Minister of Finance and placed before the Georgetown Magistrates’ Court. The validity of the charge was challenged in the High Court on the identical ground, that is, as Minister of Finance, Dr. Singh was not a Public Officer for the purposes of the charge.

The matter was heard by Chief Justice George who, after hearing detailed submissions from both counsel for Dr. Singh and the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), ruled that Dr. Singh may be charged with the offence of Misconduct in Public Office notwithstanding that he was a Minister. This ruling was delivered on November 18, 2020 and was never appealed. It remains the law on the issue.

First-year law students are taught that the doctrine of Stare Decisis, by virtue of which the decision of the High Court on a particular principle of law, is binding precedent on a Magistrate, to the extent that the Magistrate has no jurisdictional freedom to depart from that High Court’s decision.

The two cases are almost identical in both issues of facts and law, and the decision of the learned Chief Justice in the Singh and Brassington case constitutes a binding precedent on the learned Magistrate. Clearly, the learned Magistrate erred in law by refusing to follow the decision of the learned Chief Justice. Such an elementary egregious error has excited great public concern within a few hours and inevitably will shake the public confidence in the administration of justice. For to the public, it appears that they are different standards being applied to different persons by the administration of justice.

Needless to say that by this decision of the Magistrate, this accused walks free after vesting title of a State asset valued at over US $40 million to a private company for which the State received a mere US $100,000; worse yet, this was done months after the Government of which he was part, had already lost the March 2, 2020 General and Regional Elections elections but remained in Government for five months thereafter.

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  1. Don A Gomes says

    well do your thing AG.
    $40 000 000 usd……for $100 000 usd$.
    most interesting.

  2. Matthew says

    Heh, heh, heh, and dis is why we have some unconformed persons.

  3. derk says

    The ordinary Guyanese were the real magistrates when the voted them out of Government ,I would not like to imagine what would happened to Guyana if those individuals were allowed to get away with rigging the last elections.
    The Government will have to keep exposing these wrongs to the young people continuously .

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