By LAMECH JOHNSON
Tribune Staff Reporter
LAWYER Geoffrey Farquharson, although “terrified” of going to jail, told The Tribune he will not pay a $2,000 contempt of court fine to avoid prison time.
Thursday marks the end of his 21-day deadline to pay as ordered by Justice Bernard Turner on June 5 relating to his conduct and statements on two separate occasions, which called the integrity of the court into question. The alternative punishment is 14 days in prison.
The contempt proceedings for the lawyer have dragged on since October 2013. After Mr Farquharson’s client Kofhe Goodman was sentenced to death, Justice Turner told the lawyer that he was to appear before him in November to explain his conduct.
Speaking to The Tribune on Friday, Mr Farquharson addressed the issue of the fine, his decision to not pay and his representation of Goodman last year, which led to the contempt ruling in question.
“I am terrified at the prospect of going to jail,” he said. “I wake up in the night thinking about it, you see? And if I were to give in to what my feelings tell me, I would just go and give them the $2,000 and forget about it. But then after that, I will have to live with myself,” he said.
The lawyer added that his decision not to pay the fine is part of his effort to take a stand against the legal system.
“When it comes my turn, I can’t really be comfortable if I turn and run when it becomes difficult for me, and expect others to stand up when it becomes difficult for them. When it’s difficult for me, as embarrassing as it may be I can’t just let my pride cause me to step away from something that’s difficult. I have to be man enough to take my punishment.”
When asked if he intended to pay the fine, he said no, adding that he was innocent of contempt against the court. The lawyer said he has filed a civil suit against the judge regarding the contempt citation.
Goodman has retained lawyer Wayne Munroe to argue the 28 grounds of appeal he intends to rely on for the September 9 substantive hearing in the Court of Appeal.
Goodman is seeking to have the Court of Appeal overrule a Supreme Court jury’s verdict that found him guilty of the murder of 11-year-old Marco Archer, of Brougham Street, in August 2013.
The judge, in handing down his sentence, noted that abducting a child, fracturing his skull with a blow to the head, placing a bag around his head and discarding his naked, lifeless body in bushes can be considered to be “the worst of the worst” in the guidelines for sentencing set out by Parliament.
Justice Turner, in considering the death penalty, regarded the mitigating factors and the circumstances of the case – Goodman’s previous convictions for unnatural carnal knowledge in 1993, which he admitted, attempted murder and causing grievous harm in August 1998 – and was “satisfied that the circumstances of this case required that a penalty be imposed”.
Mr Farquharson described the trial as a “travesty” and said he did his best for his former client.
“It’ll be incredibly embarrassing and I can’t imagine doing anything else for myself against those fellows,” he added. “But I believe I’ll survive that and I will come out knowing that at least the principles I tell people that I stand for, that when push came to shove, I had the courage to actually stand up for that because we are going to come to this same point again when it comes to the constitutional rights of gay people in the Bahamas.
“This same point is going to come up again and somebody, probably won’t be me, but somebody is going to have to have the courage to stand up for that and until somebody does, the community here isn’t going to get it,” he said.