Jul 19, 2013 News
By Zena Henry
Attorney-at-law Nigel Hughes is seeking to have Dr. David Hinds deemed an expert in the area of political science in the Jagdeo/ Kissoon libel case. It was indicated that the defence witness will be referred to for his academic achievement, experience and extensive work in the area of race and ethnicity, and race and racism, in the Caribbean and African Diasporas.
Hinds proceeded to give his evidence before Justice Brassington Reynolds at the Supreme Court yesterday. Senior Counsel Bernard De Santos and his junior sat in representation of the plaintiff, former President Bharrat Jagdeo.
The former president sued columnist Frederick Kissoon, the National Media and Publishing Company, publishers of Kaieteur News, and Editor-in-Chief Adam Harris for over $10M, claiming libel in a Kaieteur News article which he claimed exhibited him as an “ideological racist.”
Hinds told the court that he lives in the United States of America; Arizona. He is a professor at the Arizona State University teaching in the areas of Caribbean and African Diasporas. He has a Bachelors Degree in Political Science from the University of the District of Columbia in Washington DC. He has a Masters Degree and a PhD in the area of Political Science from Howard University in Washington DC.
The courses he teaches at Arizona University are Race and Racism in the African Diaspora and Race and Racism and Ethnicity and Politics in the African Diaspora. In these areas, he said he published two books: Race and Political Discourse in Guyana, published in 2004; and Ethno- Politics, Power Sharing in Guyana: History and Discourse.
He mentioned other academic pieces such as his thesis done at Howard University in 1998. Other pieces, he said, could be found (not in their entirety) published in the Caribbean, USA and England.
The methodology used in his academic research involved the historical process of race, Hinds said. He also used the comparative method for his studies. The studies were done on different countries, he pointed out, before mentioning that the comparative method in this case deals with “occurrences of sameness and difference”. These methodologies, he continued, were used before the books on Guyana were published.
Hinds told the court that studies in the mentioned fields were conducted during the Jagdeo era and it has been cited in the second book he published.
Hinds said he has lectured on the areas of political science and issues of race, racism, ethnicity and politics in different countries, including the USA and Trinidad and Tobago. These lectures he said have included “takes on the Jagdeo presidency”.
Hughes asked Hinds whether he had considered the socio-political and economic analysis of African Guyanese people in Guyana, and this raised an objection by Senior Counsel De Santos. De Santos was of the opinion that Hinds’s consideration of those three elements was irrelevant to the matter at hand and has nothing to do with establishing the position of the witness, particularly his expertise.
In essence, the lawyer felt it was too early in the witness’s testimony to dabble in such evidence. Hughes, however, shot back that he was merely trying to find out the work of the witness, since the issues of racism, ethnicity, and so on would be a part of political science. Hughes said he is not yet asking for the findings of the research, but just to establish that work was done. To strengthen his point, he cited parts of the statement of claim which stated the plaintiff’s interpretation of the article written by Kissoon and what it sought to paint him (Jagdeo) as.
After more arguments by De Santos, the court overruled his objection citing that the question would go to the work of the witness. Hinds continued that he had done studies in political science with other ethnic groups which entailed comparative methodology of research.
Hughes subsequently asked that Hinds be deemed an expert, but De Santos was on his feet again because he was unaware as to what Hinds is an expert in. The Senior Counsel said that according to Section 16 of the Evidence Act, the witness had to be an expert in the area of arts or science. He (De Santos) wanted to know what aspect of studies he specializes in.
Hughes said that Hinds should be deemed an expert in political science. This is necessary, he said, since the whole concept is a political one, and racism itself can fall into several disciplines, politics being one. Hughes said that given Hinds’s work in Guyana, he (Hinds) can give his opinion on concepts of ideology of racism as “Section 16 speaks of science and a PhD deals with that by definition”.
De Santos started his cross examination of Hinds and asked more questions on his qualifications and experiences. This pertained to publications and lectures done by Hinds. De Santos then asked about Hinds’s affiliation with the Working People’s Alliance (WPA). He asked Hinds if there was any time he was not opposed to the People’s Progressive Party. Hinds refuted several claims about having a problem with the PPP. De Santos, however, stopped short in his cross examination since the witness’ work will have to be presented to the court and questions will be asked on it.
The libel case will re-convene on September 19.
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