Expressing disbelief at the allegation leveled against Magistrate Sunil Scarce, retired Judge, Prem Persaud, has said that if found culpable sanctions can be instituted against the Magistrate by the Judicial Service Commission, (JSC).
The JSC is the oversight body for Judges and Magistrate in Guyana.
Magistrate Sunil Scarce imposed a jail term when the law does not provide for such. Against the rule of law he also demanded compensation for a plaintiff. A magistrate is not cloaked with the authority to demand compensation.
Justice Persaud, a former member of the JSC told Kaieteur news, that once the matter is brought to the attention of the JSC, the Magistrate will be asked to provide an explanation to possibly justify his actions.
If the JSC finds the Magistrate culpable he can face sanctions which can be as serious as his removal from the bench.
However the Commission has not been in place since September last year. Magistrate Scarce was recently accused of sentencing Owen Greene, a father of two from Agricola, Greater Georgetown, to jail on a careless driving charge.
Greene was convicted by Magistrate Scarce on April 10, 2018 at the Providence Magistrate’s Court on a charge which read that on November 10, 2017, Greene was driving a truck when he was involved in a minor accident with Lorissa Mc Donald, the owner of a Toyota Axio.
After almost five months of trial, the 52-year-old man was found guilty by Magistrate Scarce and was ordered to compensate the Virtual Complainant, Lorissa Mc Donald.
The law does not empower the magistrate to demand compensation. Greene, who was unrepresented by legal counsel, declined to pay compensation; his insurance is said to have already covered for the damages to the woman’s vehicle.
Magistrate Scarce is said to have insisted that he compensate Mc Donald or go to prison for one month on the careless driving charge.
Greene reportedly attempted to negotiate with McDonald offering to repair her vehicle. However in the midst of the negotiation with McDonald, the Magistrate intervened and told him that repairing the damaged vehicle was not an option.
He said that the Magistrate then injected a threatening tone. “That’s enough I’m going to sentence you to one month in prison.” And sentenced Greene, he did.
However section 113 (3) of the Motor Vehicle and Road Traffic Act Chapter 51:02 states that any person who fails to comply with any of the provisions of the Act shall be guilty of an offence …A person guilty of an offence under this Act of which no special penalty is provided shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine of no less than $20,000 and more than $40,000.
Imprisonment is only imposed in a case of reckless and dangerous driving. Greene was imprisoned for nearly a week before he was granted bail pending appeal which he has since filed.
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