…lawyer seeks apology and $5M compensation
Attorney-at-Law, Lyndon Amsterdam on November 15 obtained an Ex-Parte Injunction against Guyana Times reporter Vahnu Manikchand, Nigel Williams, Dr. Indranie Rampersaud, Editor and Consulting Editor of the media outfit respectively; restraining them, their servants or, agents from further publishing, material that alleges corruption in the concluded Cyeon Collier murder trial which recently ended with a hung jury.
The newspaper has been stopped from disseminating and circulating to the public and electronically publishing on the world wide web the part of Manikchand’s November 12 article titled ‘Another hung jury for “Picture Boy” – deceased’s relatives slam justice system” and containing the words, ‘This is not the first time the family is making such allegations. At the previous trial, they named four jurors who had connections with the defence attorney’.
The Injunction was granted by Justice Roxanne George in Chambers. The Judge Ordered service of the documents filed by the Plaintiff Lyndon Amsterdam to be served on the Defendants and gave a returnable court date of December 10, 2013 for the defendants to answer to the Injunction. Appearing for the Plaintiff were Attorneys-at-Law Nigel Hughes, Roysdale Forde, Stephen Lewis and Keshia Chase.
In the Application, Mr. Lyndon Amsterdam contended that he is an Attorney-at-Law admitted to practice in Guyana since October, 1998 and has always represented his clients professionally and has never had his professionalism questioned or tarnished by any allegation of dishonesty, corruption or any other malpractice. However, on Tuesday 12th November, 2013, the first-named defendant, Manikchand wrote an article in the Guyana Times Newspapers under the title ‘Another hung jury for “Picture Boy” – deceased’s relatives slam justice system’ and in the said article there was a paragraph which specifically stated ‘This is not the first time the family is making such allegations. At the previous trial, they named four jurors who had connections with the defense attorney.’
The Plaintiff is contending that reference to defense attorney in the said article refers to him since he was the only attorney who represented Cyon Collier c/d ‘Picture Boy’ who has had three (3) different trials in the High Court for murder which all ended with hung juries. In the last trial which was heard before Justice Navindra Singh, the Jury was divided equally on one count of murder committed on Ray Walcott c/d ‘Sugar’ whilst on the other count of murder committed on Carl Andrews c/d ‘Aloe’, the jury was divided – eight saying not guilty and four saying ‘guilty’.
Despite, this disagreement among the jurors, the Plaintiff alleges that in the Guyana Times Newspaper article on the trial, Manikchand carried a story in which she claimed that the relatives of the deceased alleged that some of the jurors were paid off on behalf of the accused and that there is no justice for people who do not have money in this country.
The Plaintiff in his documents contended that the third-named and fourth-named defendants as Editor and Consulting Editor of the Newspapers had a professional responsibility and duty to ensure that articles published by the second-named defendant, Guyana Times Inc. are grounded and supported by fact before publication and not deliberately printed to tarnish the reputation of members of the public. He also contended that since the publication of the said article, members of the Legal profession have been enquiring from him whether it is true that he had connections with jurors in the previous trial and he has been suffering with mental, emotional and psychological distress.
In his Affidavit, the Plaintiff alluded to the fact that on several days during the trial, the first-named defendant would not be present in court but would confer and consult after the adjournment with the Prosecutor Judith Gildharie-Mursalin and on the next day would carry an article which only refers to selective parts of the evidence, favourable to the Prosecution with no reference to the lies, inconsistencies and contradiction brought out on cross examination.
Amsterdam is seeking in redress damages in excess of $5,000,000.00 (five million dollars) for Libel committed by the defendants in the newspaper publication.
He is also seeking an Order that the Defendants are caused to publish in the Guyana Times Newspaper a retraction and an apology to the Plaintiff for the alleged false statement imputing the character and reputation of the Plaintiff, such further or other order as the Court may deem just and costs.
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