Justice Panton's Farewell
There was no shortage of laughter when outgoing president of the Court of Appeal, Justice Seymour Panton, took to the podium during his retirement luncheon at the Grand Palladium hotel in Lucea, Hanover, last Friday.
The wisecracks which punctuated his address left fellow members of the judiciary and those from the legal fraternity reeling with laughter every few minutes.
His first jab was at the almost seven-foot tall attorney, Nathan Robb, who was chairing the proceedings. "When you see Mr Robb and myself standing together, you must say to yourself, 'there goes the long and short of it,'" he quipped in comparing their heights.
It was not long before the gathering again erupted in laughter - this time, when he made a joke at the expense of the members of the Cornwall Bar Association, who had organised the event in his honour, with the assistance of the Hanover Chamber of Commerce. "I am also pretty conscious of the fact that hosting a function in this climate is an expensive proposition. But then, you are all, being attorneys-at-law, heavy earners," he quipped, resulting in an outburst, before adding: "The only persons who are not laughing are the lawyers," evoking another bout.
The Rusea's High School old boy did not spare his former schoolmate, attorney at-law Albert Morgan.
Trouble at school
"I was head boy for Albert Morgan ... he gave a lot of trouble at school. He wasn't bad - he was just mischievous. And if you ask him afterwards, he will tell you about the lines that I gave him to write - and that was pretty frequent. But what is good is that Albert hasn't held it against me. After all, he has become a high-earning attorneyat-law. Count your blessings all - do not deny the truth," he said, laughing.
Panton, who is from Green Island in Hanover, attributed his rise to the head of the highest court in Jamaica to his tutelage at Rusea's under the watch of teachers such as Gertrude Burke (who is now 98).
"I owe serious debt to Rusea's. I had the benefit of excellent teachers headed by Eric Frater, but included persons who are still alive. Not many people know that A.J. Lambert - former resident magistrate - was one of my teachers. He had me doing occasional detention- kneeling down in a corner and those things when I was in first form. They (Rusea teachers) taught me the elements of life. they encouraged me to read and encouraged me to speak up."
He continued, "I had the benefit of having a good base at Rusea's, and I think that the country will be well served if Rusea's were to continue to produce citizens who are committed to this country. We actually need to put some Ruseans in Parliament, and then we probably would get some action," he said in his penultimate quip.
Panton, who marshalled the establishment of the Rusea's Old Students' Association several decades ago, said he now has more time to focus on the well-being of his alma mater.
"I will continue to keep myself informed on the law, and I will always give whatever advice I feel I have in me to give. I will have a little more time for my school. I will have a little more time for my family, if they want me to have a little more time with them," was his final quip.