Feb 21, 2015 News Comments Off on Judicial Service Commission sends two magistrates packing
By Abena Rockcliffe
The relatively new Judicial Service Commission (JSC) has issued dismissal letters to two Magistrates—Geeta
Chandan-Edmond and Chandra Sohan.
Sources close to the Commission yesterday told Kaieteur News that both Magistrates were found guilty of infractions that the Commission found to be totally unacceptable.
Sohan and Chandan-Edmond had to appear before the Commission for a number of misdemeanors.
Chandan-Edmond, who was presiding in the Georgetown Magistrates’ Court, was sent packing based on charges ranging from her inability to deliver 19 decisions to her leaving the country without approval. Magistrates are required to get approval from the Chancellor of the Judiciary to travel overseas.
Being absent from a Magistrates’ Association meeting to discuss the Sexual Offences Act; failing to report absence from work to the Chancellor and failure to respond to queries from the Chief Magistrate are said to be a few other reasons for her dismissal.
Also, Kaieteur News understands that questions were raised over the fact that Chandan-Edmond submitted medical leave for two days from a doctor in Berbice, even though she lives and works in Georgetown.
The Commission also looked at the fact that the Magistrate’s husband, Joel Edmond had been appearing before her as a lawyer in some courts.
Some of the allegations of misconduct leveled against Chandan-Edmond were being looked at during the life of the previous Judicial Service Commission. However, Kaieteur News understands that Chandan-Edmond, who was being represented by Attorney-at-Law, Nigel Hughes, asked for a number of postponements.
Yesterday, Alliance for Change issued a statement that suggested that the Magistrate was fired because she found Prime Minister Samuel Hinds’ son guilty on a wounding charge and was supposed to hand down sentencing yesterday.
AFC stated, “There was no hearing or any invitation to any hearing on the allegations for the entire year of 2014. Samuel Hinds Jnr was charged with a serious criminal offence of unlawful wounding on the 3rd March 2014. Magistrate Geeta Chandan-Edmund conducted the trial and found Samuel Hinds Jnr guilty on the 6th February 2015.”
However, that very release noted that Chandan-Edmond was written to by the Commission since January, which is way before she found the Prime Minister’s son guilty.
The Prime Minister’s son, Samuel Hinds Jnr, was found guilty of Unlawful Wounding. The maximum jail time for such a charge is 18 months. Kaieteur News was informed that Chandan-Edmond, since she was due to hand down her ruling yesterday, had already decided on the sentence. This can still be imposed by another Magistrate; there is a precedent.
On the other hand, Sohan, who was given temporary marching orders early last December, was fired primarily for tampering with documents.
Kaieteur News understands that the Senior Magistrate, who was presiding in the Georgetown Traffic Court, also had a few other alleged infractions.
Reliable sources said that it was alleged that Sohan, who was charged with dangerous driving, on occasions modified his records.
Sohan was fined for the charge but reportedly caused the records to be changed in the docket to reflect that he was reprimanded and discharged. Sohan, like Chandan-Edmond had also left the jurisdiction without permission.
But perhaps the most troubling infraction looked at by the JSC is what the commission called “some inconsistencies” with regards to Magistrate Sohan’s dealing with other court matters.
Sohan, who was the Magistrate that committed Social Activist Mark Benschop to the High Court in an alleged treason matter, was tipped to replace Chief Magistrate Priya Sewnarine-Beharry who is expected to be elevated to a Judge soon.
He is no stranger to controversy, having been involved in a much publicised spat with the police a few years ago.
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