Postponement after postponement, years and decades of frustration and multiple trips to courthouses have left Grenadians wondering what it would take to have a functional court system for ordinary citizens. Once fees are collected by attorneys – anyone’s guess “if and when” will matters be brought to the attention of the court, and when will there be a hearing before a magistrate or judge for final disposition?
Will there be a final resolution and will the attorneys and courts assure that judgments of the court are carried out in a timely manner? There are documented matters dragging out for more than 15 years – why? Is it the intent of lawyers, who receive legal fees, up front, to frustrate clients who walk away in disgust after five and six appearances costing hundreds of dollars in cash and time only to be told that the other party could not attend court?
On many occasions legal practitioners who receive paid long in advance, do not show up for the appointed court trial – the bewildered client never forewarned – another attorney unfamiliar with the matter, totally perplexed, stands in for the delinquent lawyer only to request a postponement.
The client, after spending almost five hours -each day for three days – waiting to be called, is notified for the first time that the lawyer would not appear “today”, so the matter is postponed- the saga continues month after month while the lawyers conveniently shuttle between cases (hauling in thousands in cash, client lose pay from time lost at work, incur bus fare [transportation costs] multiple times, lunch money and other expenses which no one reimburses) out of pocket and financially strapped, disappointment and frustration builds.
This appears to be a cozy arrangement, collusion among lawyers representing plaintiffs and defendants – not only accommodating but also encouraging multiple and incessant postponements. In cases where judgments and damages are awarded and defendants blatantly side-step the court’s rulings ( in some cases for years) attorneys again play the postponement game to their advantage – having been paid for their services they seldom return calls; when they do, the excuse: “ we are waiting on a court date” – over and over until the client in utter disgust gives up and abandons the cause of justice.
Lawyers understand all too well how to manipulate the system. It may not be far-fetched to link injustice in the courts to violence and intolerance in the wider society – Justice everlastingly delayed! The court has become the lawyer’s low fence. It would appear that the Grenada Bar Association is powerless to seek out and punish known member offenders, allegedly knowing and ignoring that breaches of the high standards of the legal profession had occurred (apparently no one feels embarrassed, not even a tinge) – swerve and protect, a free pass to corruption.
Are members of the Bar association and legal fraternity shying away (consciously or unconsciously) from confronting a festering dysfunction in the profession? Has the oath of office taken second place to financial gain? And as officers of the court, the legal metric, justice (without fear or favor) is no longer favored? A legal dinosaur displayed and admired in the museum of legal history from the age of honor and dignity; a time when influence, power and authority had no place – disdained in the hallowed halls of justice.
The voices of the stalwarts, the voices of reasonable and rational thinkers, the voices of truth at the Grenada Bar Association must not remain silent! Honorable and decent voices of women and men of the Bar cry out to be heard! Stand up! Be the leaders, defenders of truth and integrity, root out the curable judicial cancer – speak out! Mum is not the answer.
By Kit Stonewalling