A shake-up among the magistracy should be expected shortly, with political decisions being used to determine succession, informed sources tell REAL News.
The source says that a court decision involving the prosecution of United Progressive Party (UPP) members – and not experience nor competency – will lead to the disappointment of some and the promotion of others.
In the meantime, the source reports, Chief Magistrate Joanne Walsh is the subject of a complaint made last week by a senior police officer assigned to the St. John’s Police Station.
Last Tuesday, February 21, the court was under-manned – with only three police officers on duty. This, reportedly, was due to internal transfers that required briefing of the officers on their new assignments.
Sources said, then, that the chief magistrate had not been informed in a timely manner and – reportedly irate at what was perceived as disrespect to the Court – she suspended all matters for that day and all departments were closed early.
The source tells our Newsroom that, on Wednesday morning, February 22, the officer attached to the St. John’s Police Station took the new personnel to be introduced to Chief Magistrate Walsh.
It is alleged that, still angry about the previous day’s events, Walsh ordered the officer out of an office in which she was signing documents, reportedly using language that was unbecoming of her position and in the presence of other court staff.
And, since it appeared that his departure was not quick enough, he alleges that he was struck when someone slammed the door behind him. While he could not swear the action was Walsh’s, he asserts that she was closest to the door at the time.
Sometime later, the officer reports that he attempted, once again, to introduce the replacement court personnel, and again was rebuffed by the chief magistrate.
During his attempts to placate her and remind her of their previous cordial relationship, the senior officer reports that he not only had the door slammed in his face, but was physically jabbed in the ribs by Walsh.
Upon his return to Newgate Street, the aggrieved officer reported the matter in the station’s official diary. Reportedly, it was also escalated to the attention of the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Legal Affairs, as well as to Attorney-General Steadroy “Cutie” Benjamin.
Further reports say the complaint will be forwarded to the Regional Judicial and Legal Services Commission (RJLSC) for appropriate action.
There are already several complaints to the Commission about the chief magistrate’s alleged behaviour to staff, among other matters, and at least two investigations have been ordered.
However, reports claim both were stopped on account of the designated investigator being her junior, in one instance, and an injunction being filed and granted in the latter instance.