Categorized | Local, News

High Court Judge rules in favour of ZJB, and further empowers

Untitled-1ss

( l to r ) Judge Albert Redhead, Attorney General’s Chambers, Sheree Jemmotte Rodney

Claude Gerald

Claude Gerald

ZJB radio Montserrat’s management was even more empowered as it got the nod in the constitutional matter brought against the station by Social Commentator, Claude Gerald,.

The case centered on whether or not the rights of Mr. Gerald’s freedom of expression, pursuant to Section 13 of the Montserrat Constitution Oder 2010 were infringed when Mr. Gerald’s participation on a discussion on ZJB Radio Montserrat was terminated.

High Court Judge, Albert Redhead delivered his written judgment on Friday, July 3, 2015. He said ‘in my considered opinion in relation to this issue, it cannot be said that the applicant was denied his constitutional right of freedom of expression’.

Mr. Gerald’s lawyer, Dr. David Dorsette had in April argued that his client’s constitutional rights to freedom of expression were infringed when he began speaking on the medical benefits of Marijuana on a show hosted by lawyer Warren Cassell.

While expressing an opinion on the subject, management suddenly terminated the program whilst on air. The following week with permission granted, Gerald appeared to speak on natural health issues, touting the beauty of Ale Vera as a top healing agent for the human body.

Again whilst on air, moments into his initial thoughts and before concluding it, management informed the program host that higher management had telephoned and insisted that no permission was given for Mr. Gerald to be on radio.

Dr. Dorsette argued that the action of ZJB is not something that is reasonably justified in a democratic society.

The Attorney General’s office lawyers acting for ZJB management argued that the station manager is responsible for, among other things, approving programs and program content to be aired on Radio Montserrat, coordinating the program schedules and the work flow of the departments, and supervising and managing the people who work within the Radio Station.

Mr. Sergeant the Manager, testified that as he listened to the program, he became increasingly concerned that Mr. Gerald was promoting the use of marijuana in all its forms, especially knowing that marijuana use is illegal. It was his duty and responsibility to intervene and stop the program in the interest of public safety.

Responding to the verdict, the applicant Claude Gerald said: “I expected this type of judgment at this level of the court. But this matter is not yet over; far from it. In fact it has only now begun.”

Mrs. Sheree Jemmotte-Rodney, who represented the Attorney General’s Chambers and appeared for the respondents, speaking to ZJB radio following the judgement, said the decision was a welcomed one. She commented and explained:

“The evidence we put forward before the court indicated that the station manager took the steps he did firstly, because he was concerned about the discussion that was taking place on the program and the fact that it may be seen as promoting the use of marijuana, a substance which is still illegal in Montserrat. He also took certain steps because the station procedures for admitting new program content had not been followed. The court, when examining the evidence, agreed with the arguments put forward by the attorney general’s chambers and found that there had been no infringement of the right to freedom of expression. The court, in examining the law, indicated that although a person may have a right to freedom of expression, it has to be recognized that that right does not give a person a right to access the radio station or even a television station for the purpose of expressing their views. The court found that Mr Gerald had not been given a platform on Radio Montserrat upon which to express his views. And the court also found that the station manager’s actions were justified when one considers all of the circumstances. We, at the attorney general’s chambers, we are very satisfied with the outcome of this matter. And it was just one of the highpoints of a very successful week of civil litigation matters for the attorney general’s chambers.”

ZJB radio in their report sought comment also from Dr. David Dorsette, who represented Mr Gerald, expressed disappointment at the decision reached by Judge Redhead. The lawyer said he was reviewing the document to see if there were possible grounds for appeal.

Dr. Dorsette comments: “We have received the judgement from Justice Redhead in the matter. It’s a fairly lengthy judgement; it runs to 21 pages. The outcome is not in our favour, that is, the favour of Mr Claude Gerald. His application for constitutional relief as he complained that his right to freedom of expression and his right to exchange ideas—that claim was dismissed. We’re in the process of reading the judgement. I don’t want to say too much with respect to that but we are reviewing it to see to what extent there might be an appeal. We are a long way from making any decision on that. But we are reviewing the judgement very carefully. We must say however, we are extremely disappointed with the outcome but we’re looking forward to see if perhaps there might be avenues for appeal. We are concerned about some of the prose  of the judge where he seemed to give the station manager a fair amount of latitude. But again, we will look at the matter very carefully to see if it merits an appeal.”

Mr. Gerald is no stranger to defending his basic constitutional rights. In 2004, he prevailed in the Court of Appeal, when he challenged the Governor’s decision to demote him from his position as Director of Agriculture after he praised a fired Minister of Agriculture at an Agricultural Exhibition ceremony in 1999.

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A Moment with the Registrar of Lands

Untitled-1ss

( l to r ) Judge Albert Redhead, Attorney General’s Chambers, Sheree Jemmotte Rodney

Claude Gerald

Claude Gerald

ZJB radio Montserrat’s management was even more empowered as it got the nod in the constitutional matter brought against the station by Social Commentator, Claude Gerald,.

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The case centered on whether or not the rights of Mr. Gerald’s freedom of expression, pursuant to Section 13 of the Montserrat Constitution Oder 2010 were infringed when Mr. Gerald’s participation on a discussion on ZJB Radio Montserrat was terminated.

High Court Judge, Albert Redhead delivered his written judgment on Friday, July 3, 2015. He said ‘in my considered opinion in relation to this issue, it cannot be said that the applicant was denied his constitutional right of freedom of expression’.

Mr. Gerald’s lawyer, Dr. David Dorsette had in April argued that his client’s constitutional rights to freedom of expression were infringed when he began speaking on the medical benefits of Marijuana on a show hosted by lawyer Warren Cassell.

While expressing an opinion on the subject, management suddenly terminated the program whilst on air. The following week with permission granted, Gerald appeared to speak on natural health issues, touting the beauty of Ale Vera as a top healing agent for the human body.

Again whilst on air, moments into his initial thoughts and before concluding it, management informed the program host that higher management had telephoned and insisted that no permission was given for Mr. Gerald to be on radio.

Dr. Dorsette argued that the action of ZJB is not something that is reasonably justified in a democratic society.

The Attorney General’s office lawyers acting for ZJB management argued that the station manager is responsible for, among other things, approving programs and program content to be aired on Radio Montserrat, coordinating the program schedules and the work flow of the departments, and supervising and managing the people who work within the Radio Station.

Mr. Sergeant the Manager, testified that as he listened to the program, he became increasingly concerned that Mr. Gerald was promoting the use of marijuana in all its forms, especially knowing that marijuana use is illegal. It was his duty and responsibility to intervene and stop the program in the interest of public safety.

Responding to the verdict, the applicant Claude Gerald said: “I expected this type of judgment at this level of the court. But this matter is not yet over; far from it. In fact it has only now begun.”

Mrs. Sheree Jemmotte-Rodney, who represented the Attorney General’s Chambers and appeared for the respondents, speaking to ZJB radio following the judgement, said the decision was a welcomed one. She commented and explained:

“The evidence we put forward before the court indicated that the station manager took the steps he did firstly, because he was concerned about the discussion that was taking place on the program and the fact that it may be seen as promoting the use of marijuana, a substance which is still illegal in Montserrat. He also took certain steps because the station procedures for admitting new program content had not been followed. The court, when examining the evidence, agreed with the arguments put forward by the attorney general’s chambers and found that there had been no infringement of the right to freedom of expression. The court, in examining the law, indicated that although a person may have a right to freedom of expression, it has to be recognized that that right does not give a person a right to access the radio station or even a television station for the purpose of expressing their views. The court found that Mr Gerald had not been given a platform on Radio Montserrat upon which to express his views. And the court also found that the station manager’s actions were justified when one considers all of the circumstances. We, at the attorney general’s chambers, we are very satisfied with the outcome of this matter. And it was just one of the highpoints of a very successful week of civil litigation matters for the attorney general’s chambers.”

ZJB radio in their report sought comment also from Dr. David Dorsette, who represented Mr Gerald, expressed disappointment at the decision reached by Judge Redhead. The lawyer said he was reviewing the document to see if there were possible grounds for appeal.

Dr. Dorsette comments: “We have received the judgement from Justice Redhead in the matter. It’s a fairly lengthy judgement; it runs to 21 pages. The outcome is not in our favour, that is, the favour of Mr Claude Gerald. His application for constitutional relief as he complained that his right to freedom of expression and his right to exchange ideas—that claim was dismissed. We’re in the process of reading the judgement. I don’t want to say too much with respect to that but we are reviewing it to see to what extent there might be an appeal. We are a long way from making any decision on that. But we are reviewing the judgement very carefully. We must say however, we are extremely disappointed with the outcome but we’re looking forward to see if perhaps there might be avenues for appeal. We are concerned about some of the prose  of the judge where he seemed to give the station manager a fair amount of latitude. But again, we will look at the matter very carefully to see if it merits an appeal.”

Mr. Gerald is no stranger to defending his basic constitutional rights. In 2004, he prevailed in the Court of Appeal, when he challenged the Governor’s decision to demote him from his position as Director of Agriculture after he praised a fired Minister of Agriculture at an Agricultural Exhibition ceremony in 1999.