Thu | Jun 30, 2022

Judge befuddled at lawyer’s photographing of evidence

Published:Wednesday | May 25, 2022 | 12:11 AM
Attorney-at-law Bert Samuels.
Attorney-at-law Bert Samuels.

Tuesday's fraud trial involving two former Petrojam executives was marked by a testy exchange between Parish Judge Maxine Ellis and defence attorneys K.D. Knight, QC, and Bert Samuels over the latter's apparent preoccupation with photographing documents entered into evidence.

Samuels was observed using his mobile phone to take pictures of documents the prosecution submitted into evidence, which caught the attention of the judge.

“I do not understand why is it that you have a copy and every time the document comes, you take a picture? I don't understand,” Justice Ellis remarked, directing her comments to Samuels in the Kingston and St Andrew Parish Court.

“You don't understand? Is this a ruling?” the senior attorney queried.

“I have never seen this happen in court where you have disclosure. You have the document and you're photographing the document. I have never seen it,” Justice Ellis continued.

Samuels: “I do not want to offend you, Milady. If you say don't, I won't.”

Justice Ellis: No, Mr Samuels, you can't offend me. I just do not understand it, and if there is a reason for it. If it s part of your note taking. If it is a part of your note-taking then I understand.”

Earlier, Knight had defended his colleague's action, telling the judge; “I am not taking anything for granted … . There is a reason why he is doing it.”

The case against Perceval Bahado-Singh, the former chairman of the state-owned refinery, and Floyd Grindley, the former general manager, resumed on Tuesday with Hillary Alexander, former permanent secretary in the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, taking the witness stand.

Samuels objected to the line of questioning by the prosecutor, Queen's Counsel Caroline Hay, who is prosecuting the case under fiat. He accused her asking leading and long-winded questions.

The witness was twice asked to leave the courtroom while the judge and attorneys discussed matters relating to her testimony.

The trial resumes Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Knight, who reminded the court that Tuesday was his 81st birthday, was commended by Justice Ellis for staying true to his calling and serving his profession well over the decades.

The entire courtroom then joined in singing 'happy birthday' and wishing the senior attorney many happy returns.

Bahado-Singh is being tried in the Kingston and St Andrew Parish Court on several fraud-related charges stemming from allegations that he had submitted claims amounting to US$73,620 between December 2016 and May 2018 for overseas travel he did not make.

Grindley is alleged to have aided and abetted the ex-chairman in the process used to make the fraudulent claims.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story said K.D. Knight is 87. He is actually 81.

christopher.serju@gleanerjm.com