Lawyers have a responsibility, as officers of the court, to ensure that whatever actions they take are not only legal but ethical, and do not bring disrepute to the system of Justice.
Nevertheless, it appears that greed continues to plague the legal profession, resulting in Lawyers finding themselves running afoul of the very profession they are sworn to defend.
This is not only true in Jamaica, where the stories are many and varied but in Trinidad & Tobago and other parts of the Caribbean.
The pertinent question in light of these events is; why are lawyers held to a different standard?
If a citizen receives money on behalf of another and converts it to his own use and benefit, he is guilty of fraudulent conversion.
Paying the money back does not negate the offense, even though it may go to mitigation in the offender’s sentencing.
Why are lawyers and politicians allowed to break the laws with impunity and get away with it simply by repaying the money?
This must stop!
For those reasons, I oppose a Caribbean court of justice because all across the Caribbean, justice has demonstrably meant different things to different people.
The Trinidad & Tobago High Court has issued an arrest warrant against attorney Kathy-Ann Mottley for refusing to repay a man more than $.2 million paid to her after convincing him he owed the money to one of her former clients.
Upon her arrest, Justice Avason Quinlan-Williams ordered that Mottley be made to serve one-year imprisonment unless, while behind bars, she can facilitate the repayment. If that were to be done, then the attorney is to be immediately released from custody. The warrant was issued on Monday after Canute Antoine initiated legal proceedings against Mottley.
In 2016, Antoine also filed a complaint with the Disciplinary Committee of the Law Association against her. The Express understands that up to yesterday afternoon, Mottley had not yet been taken into custody. In all, she has to repay Antoine the sum of $209,142.02 plus interest. This is not the first time the attorney has found herself in such a dilemma before the court. In September last year, she was spared a jail term by Justice Frank Seepersad for refusing to pay a former client more than $.1 million in damages that she was initially withholding. That client’s son was killed in a vehicular accident. Mottley had represented the woman at trial, and after receiving compensation on the woman’s behalf, she failed to hand over the money.
Again, proceedings were brought against her before the disciplinary committee and later at the High Court. In his ruling, Justice Seepersad had ordered that if Mottley did not hand over the money within a certain time, she would be made to serve 30 days’ imprisonment. On two occasions, she made applications for extensions of time to pay the woman last September, the money was repaid in full and the committal warrants recalled by Seepersad.