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Was Justice Albert Redhead a Second Prosecutor in the Warren Cassell’s Conviction?

Was Justice Albert Redhead a Second Prosecutor in the Warren Cassell’s Conviction?

Editor’s note: When this article was submitted on June 28, 2016, the next publication was overtaken with Brexit news. In addition there was also pending from Claude another matter, on the current issue on sand mining. We were minded also, having been informed that the Privy Council judgment which came following this submission would not likely be forthcoming for at least a couple months. We think it still very pertinent to show the writer’s opinion following the hearing which anyone can follow since these are streamed live from London. Also appearing in this issue is the same writer’s strong commentary on the trial judge who announced his final retirement from the bench following his earlier retirement.

By Claude Gerald

Since Warren Cassell, the ‘flamboyant’ entertainment expertise lawyer by trade was convicted on charges related to Providence Estate land transactions and jailed on Montserrat in 2012, emotion remains mixed amongst High Court watchers. Close followers recall the early nineties jailing in Plymouth of another local lawyer, an admirably brilliant, daring and incomparable legal mind, in eerily similar circumstances.

Centrally, pundits argued that something was amiss at the heart of Warren Cassell’s case but beyond that, the trial itself put the evergreen Judge, Justice Albert Redhead on trial, for his conduct of the process before a panel of jurors of Cassell’s peers.  Essentially it is suggested that Justice Redhead’s conduct lacked a just focus and wittingly or otherwise directed the jury what to do in the process.

Justice Redhead has worked on Montserrat, a functionally smaller island with a smaller population, for nearly 30 years in this capacity. Presumably he is reasonably familiar with the movers and shakers in government and civil life and the general socio-cultural pulse of Montserrat; a point that emboldens doubters of the merits of the ownership of the Caribbean Court of Justice as a replacement for the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.

Whether his conduct met basic legal requirements was what the London Privy Council will decide, as a point of appeal by Cassell to finally clear his name.  Having heard arguments last week the question is: did Justice Redhead, a former prosecutor-turned long standing regional jurist, function as a second prosecutor as vehemently argued by lawyers in Warren Cassell’s case? They argue that his comments were beyond the bounds of proper comment and fatal to the safety of the conviction. And further that Justice Redhead’s summing up was a like a second speech by the prosecution and is a feature of the trial. Therefore the jury had no choice but to comply.

In short did he bias the trial and by his oral pronouncements in court and his rambling summation, ensure the conviction of Cassell whose 15 year practice of law examples some defining moments that advanced jurisprudence on Montserrat at least? Did Justice Redhead get the judgment he desired and favoured by bamboozling the jury by his oral conduct throughout the trial, having regard for the fact that his body language cannot be before the Law Lords?

As one watched the live streaming, the presiding Law Lord amongst the five was moved to state: how the jurors in this case remained awake in listening to Justice Redhead, ‘completely escapes me’ with a stern quizzical look overlooking a pair of glasses perched on the nose.

The Government’s lawyer, opposing Cassell’s appeal conceded that Judge Redhead’s attitude and presentation cut both sides. That he went too far in offending the defendant’s case and his summation favoured one side. On the one hand it was worthless. On the other hand it was worthwhile but not so worthless that on balance, his conduct was overall grossly worthless to defeat the High Court conviction.

His emphasis was this: In this case where the judge has been ambivalent, varying hot and cold, leading to possible jury uncertainty that the Law Lords should apply a proviso; that is the Lords of the law should accept that in spite of Judge Redhead’s ambiguity, mildly put, that a jury properly directed would have come to the same conclusion and convict Cassel. So Justice Redhead’s unorthodox attitude did not hurt the appellant’s case in any real way because the substance of the prosecution’s case of dishonest dealings is well established despite Redhead’s possible embellishment.

This was clearly an attempt to redeem and sanitize Judge Redhead in a case where his total demeanor was questioned, being filled with open hostility to the defense from the outset; with that predisposition he could have lost his sense of proportionality in the dispensation of justice as the law dictates, a dismissal point for any Justice.

How this is going to be decided is hard to predict however. The right to a fair trial is an absolute one as a point of principle. If it is found the behavior of the judge deprived the defendant of the substance of a fair trial because it was gross, prejudicial and irredeemable then they have no choice but to quash the conviction. A fair trial is the right of the guilty and innocent parties.

If it is accepted that the issue of a fair trial is irrelevant and that Justice Redhead essential points were enough despite his excesses then the Law Lords may dismiss the appeal accordingly.

The outcome should be not be excessively drawn out and it is imagined that a mid July judgment is reasonable time frame.

Claude Gerald is a social commentator on Montserrat. He is at ceegee15@hotmail.com

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A Moment with the Registrar of Lands

Editor’s note: When this article was submitted on June 28, 2016, the next publication was overtaken with Brexit news. In addition there was also pending from Claude another matter, on the current issue on sand mining. We were minded also, having been informed that the Privy Council judgment which came following this submission would not likely be forthcoming for at least a couple months. We think it still very pertinent to show the writer’s opinion following the hearing which anyone can follow since these are streamed live from London. Also appearing in this issue is the same writer’s strong commentary on the trial judge who announced his final retirement from the bench following his earlier retirement.

By Claude Gerald

Since Warren Cassell, the ‘flamboyant’ entertainment expertise lawyer by trade was convicted on charges related to Providence Estate land transactions and jailed on Montserrat in 2012, emotion remains mixed amongst High Court watchers. Close followers recall the early nineties jailing in Plymouth of another local lawyer, an admirably brilliant, daring and incomparable legal mind, in eerily similar circumstances.

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Centrally, pundits argued that something was amiss at the heart of Warren Cassell’s case but beyond that, the trial itself put the evergreen Judge, Justice Albert Redhead on trial, for his conduct of the process before a panel of jurors of Cassell’s peers.  Essentially it is suggested that Justice Redhead’s conduct lacked a just focus and wittingly or otherwise directed the jury what to do in the process.

Justice Redhead has worked on Montserrat, a functionally smaller island with a smaller population, for nearly 30 years in this capacity. Presumably he is reasonably familiar with the movers and shakers in government and civil life and the general socio-cultural pulse of Montserrat; a point that emboldens doubters of the merits of the ownership of the Caribbean Court of Justice as a replacement for the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.

Whether his conduct met basic legal requirements was what the London Privy Council will decide, as a point of appeal by Cassell to finally clear his name.  Having heard arguments last week the question is: did Justice Redhead, a former prosecutor-turned long standing regional jurist, function as a second prosecutor as vehemently argued by lawyers in Warren Cassell’s case? They argue that his comments were beyond the bounds of proper comment and fatal to the safety of the conviction. And further that Justice Redhead’s summing up was a like a second speech by the prosecution and is a feature of the trial. Therefore the jury had no choice but to comply.

In short did he bias the trial and by his oral pronouncements in court and his rambling summation, ensure the conviction of Cassell whose 15 year practice of law examples some defining moments that advanced jurisprudence on Montserrat at least? Did Justice Redhead get the judgment he desired and favoured by bamboozling the jury by his oral conduct throughout the trial, having regard for the fact that his body language cannot be before the Law Lords?

As one watched the live streaming, the presiding Law Lord amongst the five was moved to state: how the jurors in this case remained awake in listening to Justice Redhead, ‘completely escapes me’ with a stern quizzical look overlooking a pair of glasses perched on the nose.

The Government’s lawyer, opposing Cassell’s appeal conceded that Judge Redhead’s attitude and presentation cut both sides. That he went too far in offending the defendant’s case and his summation favoured one side. On the one hand it was worthless. On the other hand it was worthwhile but not so worthless that on balance, his conduct was overall grossly worthless to defeat the High Court conviction.

His emphasis was this: In this case where the judge has been ambivalent, varying hot and cold, leading to possible jury uncertainty that the Law Lords should apply a proviso; that is the Lords of the law should accept that in spite of Judge Redhead’s ambiguity, mildly put, that a jury properly directed would have come to the same conclusion and convict Cassel. So Justice Redhead’s unorthodox attitude did not hurt the appellant’s case in any real way because the substance of the prosecution’s case of dishonest dealings is well established despite Redhead’s possible embellishment.

This was clearly an attempt to redeem and sanitize Judge Redhead in a case where his total demeanor was questioned, being filled with open hostility to the defense from the outset; with that predisposition he could have lost his sense of proportionality in the dispensation of justice as the law dictates, a dismissal point for any Justice.

How this is going to be decided is hard to predict however. The right to a fair trial is an absolute one as a point of principle. If it is found the behavior of the judge deprived the defendant of the substance of a fair trial because it was gross, prejudicial and irredeemable then they have no choice but to quash the conviction. A fair trial is the right of the guilty and innocent parties.

If it is accepted that the issue of a fair trial is irrelevant and that Justice Redhead essential points were enough despite his excesses then the Law Lords may dismiss the appeal accordingly.

The outcome should be not be excessively drawn out and it is imagined that a mid July judgment is reasonable time frame.

Claude Gerald is a social commentator on Montserrat. He is at ceegee15@hotmail.com