City Magistrate Judy Latchman yesterday maintained that she will not recuse herself from the trial of
Kwame McCoy, Jason Abdulla and Shawn Hinds- the men who are charged with a 2010 assault on newspaper columnist Frederick Kissoon- even after a letter was sent to the Chancellor by Kissoon, requesting that the Magistrate no longer preside over the matter.
When the case was recalled in the Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts, Kissoon entered the witness box and told Magistrate Latchman that he felt “uncomfortable” with her presiding over the criminal matter and that she should do the morally right thing and recuse herself.
The newspaper columnist made it clear to the Magistrate that he has nothing personal against her and suggested that the matter be put on hold pending a decision by Chancellor of the Judiciary, Justice Carl Singh.
However, Magistrate Latchman strongly opposed Kissoon’s requests and said that she would continue hearing the six-year-old matter unless she is instructed otherwise by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) or Judicial Service Commission (JSC).
After Police Prosecutor Kerry Bostwick signaled that he had also received a copy of the letter, the Magistrate asserted, “It (the letter) presents no reason for the court to recuse itself and the court will not be recusing itself. This is a court of law; we are programmed here to receive evidence. You are here to testify. You have a choice to decide Mr. Kissoon; you decide what you would like to do with this matter.”
“I would like to confer with the prosecution because I am a prosecution witness. Therefore I receive some
umbrella of protection from the court that summoned me. You (the Magistrate) are a neutral person in this matter. I have been summoned by the state,” Kissoon explained.
Prosecutor Bostwick and attorneys Euclin Gomes and George Thomas who are representing Abdulla and Hinds, respectively, shared similar sentiments with the Magistrate in relation to Kissoon’s call for the trial to be stalled awaiting a ruling from Justice Singh.
The lawyers stated that they came prepared to continue with the trial and saw no reason why this should not be done.
In response to the Magistrate’s pronouncement, Kissoon said, “You cited six years. So if we waited six years, can’t we wait for a few weeks more for the ruling of the Judicial Service Commission?”
He said that based on what transpired in court he will further communicate with the JSC for an early hearing. Kissoon also made reference to what he deemed as “a longstanding critical relation” over the court, he shares with Magistrate Latchman.
According to Kissoon, three grounds prompted him to pen the letter to the JSC. Kissoon pointed out that over the years, he has taken Magistrate Latchman before the JSC for unprofessional conduct on the bench.
However, this statement was immediately debunked by the Magistrate who asserted, “This court was
never summoned to attend before the Judicial Service Commission.”
Kissoon said, secondly, over the past four to five years, the Magistrate’s judicial conduct has been featured for more than six times in the “Freddie Kissoon Column.”
In response to this, the Magistrate stated, “You are entitled to your opinion. Your column is your column and your opinion will always in fact remain just that – your opinion. We will all take it and measure it in inches. Your beliefs are your beliefs and you are entitled to your beliefs.”
The Magistrate advised Kissoon that “according to 1 Corinthians Chapter 2, Verse 11, ‘No one will know a person’s thoughts except that person’s own spirit,’ so do not try to read minds”.
And thirdly, Kissoon recalled that during his time giving testimony in this trial before the Magistrate, he has been of the deep belief that she was mocking him, laughing at him and was cynical towards him. This is according to the letter seen by Kaieteur News.
Nevertheless, despite the lengthy interruption, Kissoon was cross examined by Attorney Thomas, and he recalled Shawn Hinds saying that he knew who had thrown the substance on him via a television programme. Kissoon testified that the car his attacker jumped into had an unusual number plate. He added that he could not recall if the vehicle was tinted, but said he had a complete view of the car when it passed him.
Kissoon stated that he could not identify any distinguishing marks on his attacker.
“If my attacker was running on the road I would have struck him down with my vehicle, but not to kill him,” the witness said.
When further questioned, Kissoon told the court that police were very uncooperative with him during investigations, although they never invited him to the police station. The columnist recounted that the attack on him was broadcast on state-owned NCN. However, when he was asked by Attorney Thomas to recall which journalist did the news items, Kissoon was unable to do so. But Kissoon indicated that he did make enquiries about the journalist.
The trial will continue on September 9, when Kissoon will be further cross examined.
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