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Attorney-Jean-Kelsick

Justice Morley spotlighted for ‘recusals’

Recusal is not a word heard often in Montserrat and probably not before the turn of the century, and probably only once before recent occurrences. Now from mid-2019 to now.

Justice Iain Morley

From then there has been a spathe of ‘recusals’ of High Court judges in the Montserrat High Court of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court mostly involving His Lordship Justice Iain Morley.

We thought it might be beneficial to you at this time to know the general meaning of the word, ‘recusal’: “To disqualify or seek to disqualify (a judge or juror) from participation in the decision in a case, as for personal prejudice against a party or for personal interest in the outcome.” In another but similar meaning: (law) the disqualification of a judge or jury by reason of prejudice or conflict of interest; a judge can be recused by objections of either party or judges can disqualify themselves.

We recall in our welcome to Mr. Morley via an exclusive interview regarding his tour of duty with the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (ECSC). https://www.themontserratreporter.com/new-high-court-judge-iain-morley.

Attorney Warren Cassell

The interview sought his reaction to the welcome he received in Montserrat, and “generally how he plans to address his work; his vision for the court in Montserrat; in light of the new vision that the Hon Chief Justice has been encouraging – equal justice and fairness.”

It is Justice Iain Morley who has now found himself a subject of recusals over the past year.

Justice Morley was the first installed for the trial, The Queen vs David Brandt long-standing case from 2015, and once again set for a hearing some time next year. Morley recused himself willingly, but his replacement, retired Justice Gareth Evans QC flown in from the UK to replace him after revoking Brand’s bail and remanding him to prison, was later also requested Attorney Dr. David Dorsett to recuse himself from the Brandt matters.

He refused to be recused in a 90-clause-long Ruling which was delivered within half an hour of the end of the hearing. See – https://www.themontserratreporter.com/second-judge-off-the-brandt-trial/

Judge Gareth Evans, QC

Brandt’s Attorney had applied to the Court, after Judge Morley had been recused from the case, for Judge Gareth himself to be recused as well.

Meanwhile, over the years, Morley has by virtue of being the judge assigned to Montserrat in most high court matters civil and criminal has seen several of his judgments ending before the East Caribbean Court of Appeal, much ending disfavorably to him.

Last year Keston Riley had several outings before Justice Morley and in matters evolving therefrom.

As the appellant, Keston Riley, was charged with and pled guilty to fraudulent evasion of duty, following which he was sentenced by the learned judge Morley to a term of imprisonment. Riley successfully appealed his conviction to the Court of Appeal, following which the Public Prosecutions sought to appeal to the Privy Council.

Upon his release from prison, Riley had filed a fixed date claim seeking damages and declaratory relief from the State, flowing from the circumstances surrounding his successful appeal against conviction. The damages claim was set down for hearing before the same judge who presided over Riley’s criminal matter.

In light comments by the judge Morley and prior involvement in the criminal matter, Riley’s Attorney Warren Cassell applied to the learned judge to recuse himself from hearing the damages claim on the basis that he would not bring an impartial mind to bear on the matter. He refused to recuse himself from hearing the matter, at which point Riley appealed, alleging, in the main, that the learned judge erred in law by refusing to recuse himself.

The respondents being the Attorney General and the Director of Public Prosecutions applied to strike out the notice of appeal arguing that the grounds of appeal among other things that the grounds that the judge’s prior involvement in the matter and his remarks made in open court would not cause the fair-minded and informed observer to conclude that there was a real danger that the judge was biased.

The matter turned out an interesting judgment by the Court of Appeal which ordered Morley be recused, dismissed the application to strike out the appeal; allowing the appeal; setting aside the decision of the judge not to recuse himself; ordering that a different judge is to be assigned to conduct the hearing of the matter; awarding costs to the appellant to be assessed by a master if not agreed within 21 days.

Judge Morley would only this week accede to a request, challenging him to recuse himself in a matter, where Dunstan Lindsey of Baker Hill is involved before the court for a criminal matter stemming from words allegedly published of Henry Gordon and Ryan Kohli. The learned Justice Ian Morley was currently the adjudicating judge in this matter.

Following in or about the month of June 2020 Lindsey says he was charged with two offences of Criminal Libel alleging that “I committed libel against Henry Gordon the Prosecutor within the office of the DPP. The matter was eventually committed to High Court for trial and I appeared before Justice Iain Morley on at least three occasions for the management of the case.”

Attorney Jean Kelsick

On July 21 this year in support of an application for Justice Morley to recuse himself, Lindsey deposes in an Affidavit that the learned Justice Morley is a buddy of Crown Prosecutor Henry Gordon who is the virtual complainant in the criminal matter and one of the Claimant in the civil suit brought against the Applicant in the High Court.

He also deposed in paragraph 10 of his Affidavit that the learned Judge and Henry Gordon along with the Attorney for Henry Gordon were having dinner at a local restaurant. Moreover, Henry Gordon comes as a Prosecutor before Justice Morley on a regular basis.

According to the Affidavit by Lindsey in support of his application, the virtual complainant (VC) appears before the said Judge on a regular basis. Attorney Jean Kelsick (who also often appears before the Judge) is the Attorney-at-law for the said VC. A photograph with all three parties having dinner at a local restaurant was brought to the attention of the Applicant who is alleging apparent bias.

Judge Morley complied with the request in the face of a 44-clause response submitted by DPP Sullivan opposing Lindsey’s application. In his final clauses at clause 42 he said: “…It should be clear to this honorable court that [what] is being pursued by the applicant, in this case, is what can be considered as judge shopping… we invite this honorable court to dismiss the application with cost.”

In the next clause, he submits: “Prior involvement and knowledge does not disqualify a judge from hearing a matter. Critically, however, a judge must not predetermine or prejudge the matter or for or give the impression that he or she has formed a firm view adverse to the credibility of a party hearing the evidence.
“Finally,” the DPP said, “I remind this honorable court that by itself there is nothing wrong with the bench having dinner with the bar ad vice versa…”

Experienced lawyer Dr. David Dorsett, led on Constitution matters in David Brandt’s case

Then comes a successful application by David Dorsett on September 7, 2020, for Attorney Warren Cassell where Justice Morley has recused himself from the case of The Queen vs. Warren Cassell after hearing arguments from both the Attorneys-at-law representing the Crown and Dr. David Dorsett, Attorney-at-law.

Mr. Cassell is before the court after the same charge of Money laundering that was laid in 2007 was brought again 12 years later in May 2019.

Cassell was convicted in 2012 of the offence of Money Laundering under the 2010 Proceeds of Crime Act. 15 other convictions were quashed by the Privy Council in 2015 and the court of Appeal refusing to order a retrial stating that it was not in the interest of justice to retry Cassell. The money laundering conviction was quashed by the court of appeal after lawyers for Cassell argued that he could not be convicted under a 2010 law when the offence allegedly took place in 2007. This is because the constitution says that no person could be convicted under a law that was not in force when alleged offending act took place. The court of appeal ordered a re-trial and the privy council set aside the order for re-trial.

In an Affidavit in support of the Application for Morley’s recusal, Cassell cited some 14 grounds; Justice Iain Morley is the presiding judge on Montserrat and presides over all criminal and civil matters in Montserrat’s High Court; citing also the same grounds on which he recused himself in the David Brandt matter currently before the Court. Mr. Gordon also is a litigant in a civil matter in which I am the counsel; and associates and appears before him in numerous matters; Henry Gordon is a practising Attorney-at-law who regularly comes before the High Court Criminal division in his capacity as Senior Crown Counsel with the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) being his immediate Supervisor.

He is also the Attorney-at-law who has appeared as Crown Counsel in this matter. Justice Morley has made unflattering remarks in relation to me in judgements. For example he described me as “a lawyer of moderate ability ” in a preliminary ruling in this matter dated on or about the 25th of October 2019.

[11] Nonetheless, the said Justice Morley indicated that he would be minded to recuse himself but was never requested to do so.

In announcing this latest recusal in Court Order dated 13th November, 2020 Dr. Dorsett informs that the Director of Public Prosecutions has now brought the single charge of Money laundering 12 years later (different from the single charge of Concealing the proceeds of criminal conduct contrary to section 33(1)(a) of the Proceeds of Crime Act 1999, CAP 4.04, by virtue of an indictment filed on or about 19th of May 2020.

Dr. Dorsett says, “Given the recusal of Justice Morley, a new judge will have to be appointed as the trial judge in the matter.”

The Order also stated that a “tentative trial date is set to commence on 19th April, 2021, during a four-week trial window.”

It is already being speculated that from other statements in the Order that because of the British interest in these trials (to include Brandt’s) another British Judge will be foisted in for the trials.

In an interesting note regarding our ‘recusal’ observations, DPP Sullivan notes, contrary to our thought that recusals have been rare, he submits: “It is my experience that full recusal applications are routinely made to trial judges both in criminal and civil matters.

DPP Oris Sullivan

Obviously there may be cases where out of common courtesy such as when material that may be potentially scandalous or highly embarrassing to the judge or where really serious allegations are made against a trial judge that the “letter “route raising the matter, would be kinder and preferable and allow a judge to recuse himself without litigation or disclosure of his wrongdoing. Otherwise, such applications, particularly in criminal matters where a trial date is imminent are invariably dealt with as expeditiously as the circumstances allow in respect of his case.

Posted in CARICOM, Court, International, Legal, Local, News, OECS, Regional0 Comments

visa-trave

COVID-19 forces Visa-styled requirements to enter Montserrat

by Bennette Roach

As the Government of Montserrat continues to remove and amend COVID-19 suppression restrictions, and the phased reopening of the economy continues, a release from the Government Information Unit (GIU) advises:  

“As of Wednesday, July 8, 2020 at 5:00 a.m. the maximum number of persons allowed to gather in a public place will increase from 10 to 50.

  This is outlined in the ‘Public Health (COVID-19 Suppression) (No.4) Order, S.R.O. 44 of 2020’ which will be in effect until August 4, 2020.

Additionally, the categories of persons allowed to travel to Montserrat now “includes a person” who owns a habitable house or home in Montserrat.  However, persons traveling to Montserrat must register by completing and submitting the declaration form on the government of Montserrat website (www.gov.ms) no later than three days of their intended date of travel.”

Aircraft owners have seemingly (non-criminalised) responsibilities

The owner of an aircraft or vessel must also ensure that the person has been granted approval to travel to Montserrat prior to departing. All persons arriving on Montserrat must self-quarantine for 14-days commencing on the date of arrival.

The Order also “makes provisions for child care centers, nursery schools, primary schools, secondary school, tertiary school, and any other school(s) to open.”

“However, the Head or owner of the school must submit a sanitisation plan to the Minister of Health for approval, before opening.  The Head or owner of the school must also ensure that staff, students and customers practice social distancing, and comply with any direction or guideline issued by the Minister of Health regarding cleaning, sanitisation, and other precautions. Failure to comply with the directives from the Minister of Health may result in the school being ordered to close.

“As it relates to the operations of gyms and sports clubs, these entities will be allowed to offer services, but must first submit a sanitisation plan to the Minister of Health for approval, before opening.  Once approved to operate, owners of gyms and sports clubs must ensure that customers maintain a physical distance of 6 feet from each other and must comply with any direction of guideline from the Minister of Health regarding cleaning, sanitisation, and other precautions.

“Although the six feet physical distance is specified for gyms and sports clubs, the Order also makes provisions for ‘contact sporting’ activities but individuals must comply with the restriction on the number of persons allowed to gather.” 

The release concludes that all other measures which were previously announced guiding the operations of businesses such as restaurants, cookshops, barbershops, beauty salons, bars, spas and bus, and taxi operators still remain in effect.

For those so able, the full S.R.O may be downloaded at http://www.gov.ms/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/SRO-44-of-2020-Public-Health-Covid-19-Suppression-No.4-Order-.pdf

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, CARICOM, COVID-19, International, Legal, Local, News, OECS, Regional, TOURISM, Travel0 Comments

Breaking-news-Brandt

Brandt released from remand and back on bail

by Bennette Roach, London.

Bail Revoked, Brandt on remand, jailed, until? Was the headline in the TMR’s publication of July 5, 2019,  which began, “This lingering high court criminal matter has been described on Tuesday in one report as follows: “The High Court of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court has ordered another ‘interesting twist’ in the case the Queen vs David S. Brandt.”

David S. Brandt

– a trial is set to begin on November 18, 2019, but meantime the judge issues ‘directive’ to stop comments on the case.

Now, yesterday originating in Antigua:

The link from July 2019 at the beginning of this story gives an extensive and somewhat detailed as to Brandt was put on remand where he has been until the breaking news. The case has been somewhat a saga with several attempts including appeals to undo the remand order and which included a new judge eventually forced to recuse from the trial.

See here: https://www.themontserratreporter.com/brandts-trial-to-begin-february-28/ another rundown as to how the matter went before we would say, COVID-19 intervened and the opportunity to end the remand and save GoM some expense from the Lockdown that ensued. That supposedly ended altogether yesterday, ‘maybe’, while it was eased earlier, there continued a curfew just ended.

The conditions of this ‘new’ bail include, among others; Mr. Brandt is to restrict his residence to his home in Olveston; he must have no contact any female under the age of 18; He must not entertain or have any interviews on the case/matter; he must have no direct or indirect contact with any jurors once the juror list is published (and he is in possession).  

The trial is now scheduled to commence on September 28.

Listen below to ZJB – Radio Montserrat’s full report:

Dr. David Dorsett, Brandt’s attorney primarily in Constitutional matters

Attorney-at-law Warren Cassell who initially provided the breaking news information, informed, “Dr. Dorsett did an excellent job in representing him from Antigua at bail hearing which was via Zoom.”

In a comment, Cassell ‘imagined how upset the DPP will be when he hears the news…..” It was probably that which drew some comments, like “For all those who talking negatively about Mr. Brandt, call on God and ask Him to deal with us the way we deserve then sit back and look. NONE will be spared……remember that.” “…everyone needs to be treated fairly; ” ”a he axx that. Everyone needs to be treated fairly.”

“The vipers them already stirring up. Everyone deserves a Fair trial. When u guys coming for people come good. Have you facts and all your Ts cross. When you assuming no carry it a court. I wonder how the High Court that doesn’t have anything to do with Montserrat favoritism is doing anything hypocritical.”

Posted in Court, COVID-19, Crime, Featured, International, Legal, Local, News, OECS, Regional0 Comments

PM-Dr-Ralph-Gonsalves-1

St. Vincent PM says recount votes in Guyana should be honoured

by staff writer

KINGSTOWN, ST. Vincent, Jun 11, CMC – St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves says he remains satisfied that the 15-member Caribbean Community (CARICOM) grouping “will not stand by idly and watch the recount which is properly done for the results to be set aside” in the disputed March 2 regional and general elections in Guyana.

The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) is yet to announce officially the winner of the polls after the re-count exercise was concluded on Sunday in the presence of observers from CARICOM and other international organisations.

Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves appearing on radio programme (CMC Photo)

Both the ruling coalition, A Partnership for National unity (APNU) headed by President David Granger and the main opposition People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) headed by Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo have claimed victory.

The PPP/C said that the recount has shown that it won the election by more than 15,000 votes, while the APNU has claimed that a number of irregularities and anomalies took place during the voting exercise and has called on GECOM to make a statement on the matter.

Gonsalves, speaking on a programme on the state-owned NBC Radio St. Vincent and the Grenadines, said “we expect the CARICOM observer mission to deliver its report and we expect that what is the recount would be honoured and the Guyana Elections Commission would honour that recount and declare the winner in accordance with this recount”

He told radio listeners that “anybody who wants to challenge anything afterward can go to court but you have to declare the winner in accordance with the recount,” he added.

Gonsalves, who is expected to take over the chairmanship of CARICOM in July, said that there had been “no complaints” about the first two processes involved in the elections, namely “what happens before the election day, process of registration, putting the machinery in place for free and fair elections, secondly what happens on election day.

“: Nobody said it was a sham elections or irregularities were such that so as to undermine the efficacy of the poll. The third question which was outstanding is the counting of the votes.

“That’s why the first statement that (Prime Minister of Barbados) Mia Mottley made as chair of CARICOM…is that each vote must be counted, each vote has to be counted. Well, this is where you had the basis for the recount and the reason why it is an election and not a selection, you have to count the votes and you have to count them honestly”.

Gonsalves said that he is “satisfied that CARICOM will not stand by idly and watch the recount which is properly done for the results to be set aside

“St Vincent and the Grenadines stands firmly for democracy and reflecting the will of the people. That will tell you where we are. I don’t have to say anything straight and plain. CARICOM is not going to tolerate anybody stealing an election,” he said.

Gonsalves said he is aware of a number of opposition parties when they lose an election make a number of complaints.

“It is almost a boring repetition. We get the reports, follow the law and who win, win. When you take part in an election there is always a chance that you may lose and if you lose …you take your licks like a man,” Gonsalves said, telling listeners that he is a friend to both Granger and Jagdeo.

Coalition says a statement by incoming CARICOM Chair could undermine the legitimacy of the recount process

by STAFF WRITER

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Jun 11, CMC –  The coalition –  A Partnership for National Unity and the Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC)  has expressed concern with statements made the incoming Chairman of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Dr. Ralph Gonsalves; describing it as a taking a “prejudicial” stance on Guyana’s elections.

The APNU+AFC via a press statement said they were “surprised” at  Gonsalves’s statement since the national recount process of votes cast in the March 2, General and Regional Elections, is still ongoing.

Gonsalves who is the Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines has urged the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) to declare a winner of the elections based on the figures from the first phase of the recount.

The recount is comprised of four stages.

However, the APNU+AFC in its statement highlighted that they are “concerned as the incoming Chair of CARICOM, Dr. Gonsalves has chosen to pronounce on a process that is still ongoing, and proposes to a direct constitutional body in another CARICOM Member State in the execution of its duties.”

The coalition reminded that the four-stage process which is gazetted was agreed to by all political parties and CARICOM.

The first stage of tabulating the votes recently concluded and the second stage is now in progress. That is the compilation of a matrix of the tabulated results along with a summary of the observation reports, by the Chief Elections Officer.

According to the coalition, the reports will highlight the 7,929 instances of irregularities which directly affected the validity of 257,173 votes.

Additionally, it was also pointed out that the CARICOM scrutineering team has not yet submitted a report of its findings as mandated by the gazetted order. This will then be followed by a review of the reports by the Elections Commission and finally a declaration of the results by the Chairperson of GECOM after having studied the report.

With that, the coalition further reminded that “the ongoing process is significant and important not only for democracy in Guyana but the wider CARICOM.  It is expected that CARICOM leaders would refrain from any actions or utterances that could undermine the legitimacy of the process and its credible conclusion.”

Posted in CARICOM, Court, Elections, International, Legal, News, Politics, Regional0 Comments

usatoday-logo-1

‘It makes no sense’: Feds consider relaxing infection control in US nursing homes

Marisa Kwiatkowski and Tricia L. Nadolny – USA TODAY – Published May 4, 2020 – reprint

The federal government is considering rolling back infection control requirements in U.S. nursing homes – even as the long-term-care industry’s residents and workers are overwhelmed by the coronavirus.

A rule proposed last year by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) would modify the amount of time an infection preventionist must devote to a facility from at least part-time to “sufficient time,” an undefined term that lets the facility decide how much time should be spent. The regulation has not been finalized, but CMS last week defended its proposal, saying it aims to reduce regulatory burden and strengthen infection control.

Opponents of the change said the rule could leave nursing home residents more vulnerable to infection. They expressed concern, especially given the devastation COVID-19 has caused within long-term care facilities.

“It makes no sense at all – prior to a pandemic, but more so now during a pandemic – to roll back any of the necessary infection and control requirements and the federal regulations,” said Lindsay Heckler, a supervising attorney at the Center for Elder Law & Justice, a civil legal services agency in Buffalo, New York. “They should be strengthening these infection and control requirements.”

A patient is loaded into an ambulance at the Life Care Center in Kirkland, Wash. Monday, March 9, 2020, near Seattle. The nursing home is at the center of the outbreak of the COVID-19 coronavirus in Washington state. Ted S. Warren, AP

CMS has acknowledged that infection is “the leading cause of morbidity and mortality” in the nation’s 15,600 nursing homes. In its proposed rule, the agency said 1.6 million to 3.8 million infections occur each year in those facilities, with almost 388,000 deaths attributed to infections.

The coronavirus has put a spotlight on the problem. More than 16,000 long-term-care residents and staff have died of COVID-19, according to a USA TODAY analysis of government data. And nearly 97,000 residents and staff have tested positive for the virus. Those figures are an undercount, because testing has been limited and many states have not released full data.

CMS told USA TODAY its rule would allow facilities to determine for themselves the time needed for infection prevention and go above part-time when warranted. 

“This is a person-centered approach to care and would allow CMS to hold facilities accountable by having the infection preventionist onsite full time, especially in times of an outbreak,” the agency said in a statement last week. 

Search USA TODAY’s database: More than 4,000 nursing homes with COVID-19 cases

The changes were first proposed in July 2019, part of an ongoing effort by the Trump administration to reduce regulations for nursing home providers and suppliers. In addition to modifying the infection preventionist requirement, the proposed rule would also reduce the need for a facility-wide assessment from once a year to every other year and allow certain facilities to disregard a requirement that caps residents at two per room. CMS said the changes would reform “unnecessary, obsolete or excessively burdensome” requirements. 

CMS, which has the authority to change regulations on nursing homes without legislation, said the proposal is still under review. There were 1,731 comments on the rule – from nursing homeowners to advocates to residents and their family members – when the period for public input closed in September.

Some of the submissions are prescient given what has since occurred with COVID-19.

“Too many people have died and too many have suffered,” Alice Hedt, a former director of the National Ombudsman Center, wrote in a comment posted Sept. 24. “Minimizing the requirements of the Infection Preventionist when we know infections can be prevented and addressed will result in even more deaths and suffering. I personally think this person should be full time in every facility until the death rate from infection and unnecessary hospitalizations decline by fifty percent.”

Hedt, who spent 30 years as an advocate for long-term care residents, called the proposal “a slap in the face of residents who are more frail than any time in our long term care history.”

Experts say COVID-19’s devastating effect on people in long-term care is the result of a complex mix of factors, including the characteristics of the virus, the vulnerability of older adults, and those with underlying conditions, staffing levels, and national availability of testing and personal protective equipment. For some, the virus’ effect on nursing homes has renewed their concerns about the proposed rule.

“That softening of that rule I think, in retrospect, is exactly the wrong thing,” said Christopher Laxton, executive director of the Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine. 

Laxton, whose association represents about 5,500 medical professionals working in long-term-care settings, last year offered tepid support of the change, writing that his group didn’t object to the new language but that both terms “may be confusing and difficult to define.” He wrote that the amount of time spent on infection prevention should be based on real-life factors, such as the facility’s risk assessment, seasonal changes, and the presence of outbreaks. 

In an interview last week, he said it is “a different world than when we first commented on that proposal.” 

“At this point, sufficient time for an infection control preventionist in a building means full time,” he said. “And it means dedicated to a single building. And being there every day. That’s what sufficient means in this context. It may not mean that outside of a COVID pandemic. But it certainly means it now.”

The News-Journal has found that nearly a third of all coronavirus cases at long-term care facilities in the county are at the Opis Coquina Center nursing home in Ormond Beach. [News-Journal]/David Tucker]

‘Sometimes regulation hinders us’ 

Within the long-term-care industry, some are less convinced that leaving the rule as is, or even strengthening it, would make a meaningful difference in infection control. 

“Sometimes regulation hinders us from putting resources where we know they need to be,” said Dr. Gregory Johnson, chief medical officer of the Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society, the largest not-for-profit provider of long-term care and senior services in the United States.

He noted that only a small portion of the facility-wide assessment – which the proposed regulations would require to be conducted every other year rather than annually – focuses on infection control. The amount of work that goes into what can become a 300-page document is “colossal,” Johnson said, and there are other regulations that address infection control.

During the pandemic, he said, his organization has “far exceeded” even the part-time requirement. Johnson said they began implementing visitor restrictions and other preventative measures in early March. As of Sunday, the Good Samaritan Society said 26 of its 143 skilled nursing facilities had at least one confirmed case of COVID-19.

Johnson said the organization – which operates in 26 states – grapples with differing local, state, and federal regulations and tries to surpass them. 

Too often, Johnson said, the public hears only about the nursing homes that are “bad apples.”

“There are a whole lot of people out there in this business who are doing it because of a deep care and a deep commitment to mission,” he said. 

Combined, the CMS regulations serve as the basis for federal inspections that are conducted in U.S. nursing homes. Mark Parkinson, president, and CEO of the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living, said that the survey process is “broken on many levels” because it measures too many things and is too punitive.

His organization, which represents more than 14,000 long-term-care facilities that collectively provide care to more than 5 million people, said it supports quality infection prevention in facilities but is behind CMS’ proposed rule change. The organization said in a statement that “more oversight is not the answer to what has happened during the pandemic – it would reduce critical resources these centers need or even put them at risk of closing.” But it also said facilities can always do more.

“When we get through this, the entire country will need to have a serious discussion and reckoning about our infection control practices in health care settings and throughout society,” the statement said.

Opposition to proposed rule

People who oppose CMS’ rule change say COVID-19 has proven that strong infection control is paramount.

The Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) has remained steadfast in its opposition to CMS’ proposed rule. The nonprofit organization said it was disappointed to see CMS acquiesce to the argument that compliance is overly burdensome and expressed concern that the federal government was trying to change the regulations, which have been phased in since late 2016, before their impact has fully been felt. 

“The COIVD-19 outbreak has really brought to light the opportunities and vulnerabilities of long-term care and the need for effective infection prevention,” said APIC President Connie Steed, who is the director of infection prevention and control at Prisma Health in South Carolina. “And it doesn’t matter if it’s COVID-19 or influenza or other concerning infections and outbreaks that can occur in these settings. A robust infection prevention control program is really imperative for these types of facilities.”

Search USA TODAY’s database of facilities with COVID-19 cases

Carol Buckner, a registered nurse who works in telehealth, said she has long had concerns about the quality of care at the nursing home in Rochester, New York, where her brother lives, The Pearl Nursing and Rehabilitation. The center, which until recently was named New Roc Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, is one of 88 nursing homes identified by CMS as a Special Focus Facility, homes that have chronic deficiencies and face additional government oversight.

“There’s not enough staff. They’re not trained. And there’s no direct oversight. I never see a nurse in there unless they’re passing meds,” she said. “And then you add COVID into this?”

The facility’s administrator did not respond to a request for comment.

Last year, Buckner wrote to CMS to object to the proposed rule change by noting that infection control is the “single most protective” measure a facility can provide its residents. She said she knows her brother’s home has an infection preventionist only because she once spotted a staff list on a visit and saw that title listed beside a person’s name. She does not know how many hours the employee devotes to infection control. 

She said the facility has not reported any cases of COVID-19, but she still worries. 

“I’m still nervous,” she said. “I mean I’m hoping they’re doing a stringent job with being masked. But I had asked the facility, ‘What can I help you with?’ They said if you have any long-sleeved men’s shirts they could put on backwards and wear like a gown. So obviously they’re telling me they don’t have enough PPE.”

Buckner said CMS needs to impose stricter regulations. 

“I’m hopeful things are getting better,” she said, “but I don’t know that things will ever improve until full regulations are really strengthened and shored up. They need to be much better than they are.”

Marisa Kwiatkowski is a reporter on the USA TODAY investigations team, focusing primarily on children and social services. Contact her at mkwiatko@usatoday.com, @IndyMarisaK, or by phone, Signal or WhatsApp at (317) 207-2855. 

Tricia L. Nadolny is a reporter on the USA TODAY investigations team. She can be reached at tnadolny@usatoday.com or @TriciaNadolny.

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, COVID-19, Health, International, Legal, News, Regional0 Comments

COVID19-Report-April-17

Active cases down one, with second person recovered

as of April 17, 2020

With the Royal Montserrat Police Force (RMPS) boasting and becoming it seems the most important agency in the fight against COVID-19, with the emphasis on containment in the unknown or the most serious method of transmission, they announce and give a breakdown of the 46 arrests they have made since the Health Act began to show its emergency powers.

Today, the Ministry of Health in its most recent release via the Government Information Unit says, “A second person has fully recovered from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) on Montserrat.”

The release explains confirmation by CARPHA after investigating “seven (7) local samples which included five (5) follow-up swabs from confirmed cases and two (2) suspected cases. These latest results mean that Montserrat’s active, on–island cases have now decreased to eight (8), and recoveries have increased to two.

Unfortunately, with the police saying the 46 arrests they have made between March 28 and April 14, it is bothersome that between those dates there were two newly confirmed cases of infected persons with the virus. More worrisome was, that the Premier in his statement and subsequent press conference on Good Friday said that the reason for imposing a complete shutdown as of April 12 from midnight was, being “…aware that not everyone carrying the virus, exhibit symptoms…the danger where persons who are asymptomatic are walking around affecting others.”

He provided no evidence for this and even denied that was what he said. That was preceded with the excuse, “The Ministry of Health is unable to undertake wide-scale testing at this time…” a position created by their slothfulness even up to that point, shown up in the March 28 press conference.

According to the police, the most arrests occurred on April 11, (Saturday after Good Friday) when 15 persons were arrested.  A further breakdown of the arrests during this period is as follows: 18 arrests were made between March 28 to April 8; three arrests on April 10; two arrests on April 2 and 4 arrests on April 13 and 14. Between March 28 and April 8, the police had to issue 12 warnings, which included two juveniles.

Sounding like a boast with no new cases, “All 46 arrests will advance to court on breach of the Public Health (COVID-19 Control and Suppression) (no 2) Order S.R.O. 22 of 2020 (those before April 13), and breach of the Public Health (COVID-19 Shelter in Place) Order 25 of 2020, for those arrested after 12:00 a.m on April 13.

While no matter the size of the population 46 arrests within that space of time, statistically is considerable, though the demography may be an important consideration. It would be interesting to learn the reasons being proffered by these persons for their suspected infractions. It may not surprise that some of those reasons may be the shortcoming of how the whole situation is being managed.

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, Featured, Government Notices, International, Legal, News, OECS, Regional0 Comments

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St. Patrick’s Day Lecture feature – Praedial Larceny

Contributed by Cleo Cassell

Grace Cassell, delivering the lecture

I would like to make a confession before I continue. I confess, not to committing praedial larceny, but to never attending any of the St. Patrick’s Day lectures before March 10, 2020. I believed that by fate I should go this year because every time I turned the radio on the advertisement seemed to beckon me through the speakers. The topic also appealed to my creative mind. Praedial Larceny: A Scourge on Agricultural Production and Food Security, and in my mind, I personified Praedial Larceny and imagined this character whipping agriculture and food security.

        In contrast, the setting of the conference room at the Cultural Centre was intimate and calming. The lofty windows had been dressed with draped fabric of our green, orange and white madras, while our sturdy national flower, the Heliconia, muted the stark white walls. Even more pleasing to see were the green chairs that were almost filled to capacity.

The St. Patrick’s Day lecture truly added a sophisticated element to the debauchery that the day was becoming. It was an unmistakable reminder that the St. Patrick’s celebration was much more: it was a celebration of our ancestors who fought for our freedom. Later on, it became apparent that the lecture was also important because it was a way to safeguard Montserrat’s undocumented history in this new emerging Montserrat where so many memories of the pre-volcanic times had been buried and displaced.

The lecture was amply chaired by Mr. Claude Brown the infamous host of Farmers’ Corner, President of the Farmer’s Association and Former Agriculture Development Officer. Besides his credentials, Brown’s soothing voice, pleasant way of lightening the seriousness of the mood with a joke or two and seamless way of segueing into the next segment seemed to keep the audiences’ attention.

Claude Browne

However, Brown was not the only trick up the sleeve, there was entertainment. First came Lord Meade’s calypso, which passionately told the story of a farmer who was frustrated by his neighbours’ “damn” livestock that were harvesting his produce before he had a chance to. Our very own historian and poet, Professor Sir Howard Fergus followed with two recent poems and an old one about praedial larceny.  I do not know about the audience, but I thoroughly enjoyed his readings. It reminded me of sitting in tutorials listening to the man who made me fall in love with poetry, Professor Mervin Morris.

Sir Professor Howard Fergus

The main feature did not disappoint either. Miss Gracelyn Cassell began the lecture with anecdotes. She told the story of entitled workmen who openly stole coconuts from the Open Campus to the heart-wrenching story of her uncle, Cephas Cassel who died by the scourge of praedial larceny. The saga of Cephas’ was an allusion to the Cain and Abel story told in Genesis. Cain was a farmer and Abel a shepherd; however, it was Cain’s jealousy that led his naive brother to his death just as the murderer had done to the innocent Cephas.

My mind was completely engaged by then and kept ticking as Cassell transitioned into the historical perspectives of praedial larceny. It was once accepted as a means to an end for the emancipated slave, but was also negatively described by Bryan as a ‘typical black perversion’. Bryan’s notion appeared to be a paradox as Cassell continued by illustrating contemporary experiences, praedial larceny’s impact on food security, the approaches and measures taken to solve this problem. Although not mentioned, I shuddered as I was able to make the connection with the disturbing piracy that regularly occurred off the coast of Africa. Praedial larceny was once petty theft and was tolerated as a means of subsistence, but it had morphed into the pure evil of Cain. It was the business of highly organized theft.

Praedial larceny was much more than just stealing it was a scourge on people’s psyche. At the end of the lecture, the audience was encouraged to share a memory or experience about praedial larceny. Some of the accounts had been hoarded for over 40 years and involved even huge cows disappearing into thin air. The account that really pricked me the most was hearing about a grandmother who put pins into her provisions not to harm buyers, but to discourage people from purchasing from the thieving seller. This story reminded the audience that praedial larceny was also a public health and safety issue.

I left the lecture with a lot to think about, but not ill-equipped. Although I did not have a definite remedy for the problem, I could do my part to help put an end to praedial larceny. I would make sure I bought from reputable farmers.

Posted in COVID-19, Education, Fashion, Legal, Local, News, OECS, Opinions, Poems, Security0 Comments

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Covid – 19 fears and doubts

by Bennette Roach

MOHS national influenza committee

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) has evidently touched most of the world and has taken place in many headlines with coverage throughout each day. And Montserrat no less, as the call for more action out of concern and the accusation of mismanagement.

The month began with a release from the Government Information (GIU) that said Officials from the Ministry of Health, Port Authority, Integrated Border Security, Customs and Excise, the Royal Montserrat Police Service (RMPS), Access Division, Airport and the Office of the Premier were engaged in the discussions.

These officials made up the National Influenza Pandemic and Preparedness Committee (NIPPPC) which had met to review the government’s action plan and risk mitigation for COVID-19, and to recap the evolving global and regional situation.

The release said that the NIPPPC discussed various scenarios and further actions and mitigation measures required from the various sectors, especially ahead of the St. Patrick’s festival; which is a high tourist season for the island. That the Ministry of Health is also in communication with local non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) such as Red Cross, The Montserrat Association of Persons with Disabilities and the Montserrat Senior Citizens Association; to ensure that the most vulnerable in the community are protected.

Since then a number of key exercises occurred including completion of training of emergency personnel in the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), continued distribution of educational literature and continued training in handwashing and proper sanitation of special interest groups such as children and caretakers of the elderly. Situational updates and strategic response meetings also continue with local and regional partners; Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO), Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) and Public Health England. 

One writer on the matter got our attention: “After speaking to numerous infectious disease experts over the past few days, I’m starting to wonder: is our reaction to COVID-19 the exact reaction an adversary in an information war would hope for? Said differently: is the COVID-19 story the Information Age Pearl Harbor we’ve been expecting?

coronavirus cells…

Look at the trillions of dollars of value taken from the stock market. Look at the billions of dollars in canceled travel. Look at the interrupted supply chains. All of this for the “common cold” virus that, in truth, is deadly… but no more deadly than the flu. While the medical community will not definitively say what COVID-19 exactly is (or is not), according to the CDC, the WHO, and other credible sources, the mortality rate of COVID-19 is approximately the same as the flu, and young people are less likely to get it.

No one is less of a conspiracy theorist than I am. I’m not trying to minimize the pain and suffering caused by COVID-19. However, the more I learn about this disease, the less scared of it I get, and the more suspicious I get about the origin of the story. Is anyone else wondering about this?

Another story that caught our interest which spoke to the outbreak and how it began. It said, “Finally, you may have heard that although the disease is highly infectious, it is dangerous only to the elderly or to those who have a compromised immune system. The official lethality rate is approximately 2% or so… You will have been told that it is an influenza-like illness that can in severe cases cause pneumonia, respiratory failure, and death.

“All of that is a bunch of lies concocted by the Chinese state with the tacit support of the U.S. deep state and its friends in the European Union, Russia and Australia, and spread by the docile media in all of those countries…”

But on our search for the integrity and the veracity of the story, it turned out to be a well written false, ‘fake’ story. “Let them come. Let them do with me as they will. I no longer care,” the article concluded.

Soon, as the virus continued to spread to other countries first heard about in China and governments began to see this as a threat to the world’s economy and its existence; as stock markets tumbled and gatherings, sports, and cancellations of sporting games, festivals, closing of borders and travel severely curtailed, the Caribbean included and the fear of what is referred to as the dreaded virus, the Montserrat St. Patrick’s Day festivities came into focus.

Several hundreds of people began arriving with its problems of inoperable ferry trips because of high seas, the call for the consideration of canceling the festivities grew loud and louder doubts were expressed and whispers turned into questions directed at the Governor, Premier, and Ministers.

On February 28 Attorney at Law Jean Kelsick wrote to the Governor suggesting, “…immediate and serious consideration to whether St Patrick’s Week should be celebrated this year in the teeth of a deadly virus that may be on the verge of becoming a global pandemic.”

A few days later the Government released information as above about the formation of the NIPPPC. It was also after that the virus infestation grew and as we have shown mostly on our Facebook page and the website, St. Patrick’s celebrations and festivities were canceled. In Ireland, San Francisco, Boston, etc. and finally after biggest arrivals of guests for the Montserrat festival, and the announcement of the first confirmed case of the virus infection in neighboring Antigua, along with an announcement from Emerald Isle, N.C., (USA) which said: “Emerald Isle St. Patrick’s Festival Cancelled.”

Social media lit up and the misinformation moved quickly. That got an announcement from the government, but it also brought the issue of Montserrat canceling its own festival more to the fore. That was yesterday, but it also increased the need for the possible cancellation of the festival; and, late today we received a copy of a letter signed by Dr. Lowell Lewis, the Montserrat Chamber of Commerce and the Montserrat Bar Association. It called “…on Government to take immediate steps to bring the situation under control and make a prompt and full public statement on the matter.”

It noted 16 points outlining what they called, “government’s continued mismanagement of the coronavirus problem.” See the letter on page enumerating the concerns about the virus as it relates to Montserrat.

Premier Taylor-Farrell

In late news today, Premier Taylor-Farrell issued a statement updating plans to address the growing problem or concerns which evolved out the single reported case in Antigua.

The Premier sought to comfort residents that the plans are in operation. “Although Montserrat has no confirmed cases of COVID-19 to date, my Minister of Health, Chief Medical Officer and the entire Health Team have been working tirelessly to prevent, detect, manage and contain any potential outbreak in Montserrat as a matter of public health emergency,” he said.

He said his government is making sure that the right steps are being taken to try to prevent and minimize the impact of the virus. He stressed further: “I am keenly aware that Montserrat’s national security and economic prosperity require meaningful investment in public health security.  So, on my direction, the Government is deploying the full range of resources at our disposal to prevent an outbreak of the virus in Montserrat.”

He advised that people who have visited affected countries and subsequently developed symptoms of the coronavirus that they should stay at home and contact the Casualty Department at the Glendon Hospital on 491 2802 or 491 2836. See the letter here …

Posted in Business/Economy/Banking, COVID-19, Featured, Features, Health, Legal, Letters, Local, News, Regional, Travel0 Comments

UK Caribbean Deportations to Go Ahead

UK Caribbean Deportations to Go Ahead

St. Kitts-Nevis Observer

By snr-editor – February 10, 2020

Rishi Sunak

A senior minister has defended a plan to deport 50 people toJamaica despite widespread calls to halt the flight chartered by the Home Office.

Chief Secretary to the Treasury Rishi Sunak insisted today that those being forcibly removed had committed “very serious offences” and their deportations were “reasonable”.

It comes after more than 150 cross-party MPs and peers, including Jeremy Corbyn, wrote to Boris Johnson calling on him to stop tomorrow’s flight.

One man facing deportation is 30-year-old Reshawn Davis (pictured above).

He was convicted of robbery 10 years ago and served a two-month jail sentence for the offence.

Mr. Davis has lived in the UK since he was 11 and if deported tomorrow, would have to leave behind his British wife and daughter – he has said he is “terrified” at the thought of returning to Jamaica.

This is the second flight to Jamaica after the Windrush Scandal, when it emerged that dozens of people had been wrongly deported from the UK by the Home Office.

In wake of the controversy, the government suspended charter flights as they could not guarantee that no wrongful deportations would take place.

The protest was organised by Nottingham East Labour MP Nadia Whittome, who warned that the government could repeat the mistakes of Windrush.

In the letter she said the deportation was intended to oust people who have been resident in the UK for decades and argued that deportations should be halted until a report into the Windrush controversy is released.

The MP said: “The fact is that many of the individuals in question have lived in the UK since they were children and at least 41 British children are now at risk of losing their fathers through this charter flight.

“The government risks repeating the mistakes of the Windrush scandal unless it cancels this flight and others like it until the Windrush Lessons Learned Review has been published and its recommendations implemented.”

But Mr Sunak said he believes the flight is “right” and the British public would expect foreign national offenders to be deported.

“What that plane is about is deporting foreign national criminals. Many of these people have committed crimes such as manslaughter, rape, other very serious offences,” he told Sky News.

Tajay Thompson came to the UK when he was five and has only visited Jamaica twice since

Another facing deportation to Jamaica is 23-year-old Tajay Thompson, who was convicted of a Class A drug offence as a teenager.

Mr. Thompson was brought to Britain as a five-year-old and lives with his mother and younger brother in south London, having only visited Jamaica twice on holidays since.

“I feel like I was born here. Jamaica is not my country,” he said.

“It’s not like I’m a rapist or a murderer, I’ve made a mistake when I was 17 and it’s now going to affect my whole life.”

Human Rights Appeal

An appeal has been renewed for Human Rights organisations worldwide to come to the aid of Caribbean immigrants who are the direct victims of the Windrush scandal.

Foreign Affairs Minister for Antigua and Barbuda EP Chet Greene echoed the call on Sunday on the Big Issues as the UK government gets ready to deport Caribbean nationals, some of whom arrived in the UK as children, and are parents of British children.

A flight, which is expected to depart the UK for Jamaica on Tuesday with approximately 60 deportees on board, is reportedly the second since the Windrush scandal erupted about two years ago.

“We are calling on all those rights organisations to come to the aid of the Caribbean people in the face of this wicked, very vindictive, very unlawful act on the part of the British government of deporting persons who have equity and stake in Britain,” Greene said.

The Windrush scandal erupted in 2018 when it came to light that some migrants from Commonwealth countries, including Antigua and Barbuda, who were encouraged to settle in the UK from the late 1940s to 1973, were being wrongly categorised as “illegal immigrants.”

News of the move sent shockwaves throughout the Caribbean and the rest of the Commonwealth, with many pundits raising alarm over the decision.

Posted in Court, Culture, Features, International, Legal, Local, News, Politics, Regional, UK - Brexit0 Comments

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Bank of Montserrat Ltd – Notice of Meeting

Notice of Extra-Ordinary General Meeting

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