By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
FORMER ZNS reporter Sherman Brown must pay $15,000 by noon on Friday or spend a month in prison, Justice Indra Charles ruled yesterday.
This came after her December ruling that Mr Brown had been found in “contumacious” contempt of court for giving false testimony while being cross-examined for his involvement in defamatory websites and articles published against billionaire hedge fund manager Louis Bacon.
Mr Bacon is a resident of the exclusive gated community of Lyford Cay.
Justice Charles said Mr Brown’s case warranted a prison sentence but in her discretion she chose instead to impose a fine while giving him an opportunity to comply with the Norwich Pharmacal (NP) order that was previously made by Justice Bernard Evans.
This means Mr Brown must still disclose certain documents or information related to Mr Bacon’s defamation action that is before the court.
It had been argued that after Justice Charles found Mr Brown in contempt of court, she should have directed the attorney general to lead prosecution against Mr Brown under the Penal Code so he would have faced a new trial under another judge.
Justice Charles said she found this view “novel” and therefore invited the attorney general to assist in providing an interpretation of Section 82 of the Penal Code, which concerns perjury.
After doing so, a representative of the Office of the Attorney General argued that a second trial under another judge was indeed necessary.
However, Louis Adams, attorney for Louis Bacon, argued that this was optional.
Justice Charles agreed with him, saying a failure for the matter to be dealt with by her court would fly “in the face of court” and be a “mockery of courts and a colossal loss of judicial time.”
Noting that Mr Brown had not complied with the Norwich Pharmacal order, Justice Charles said he was also not under any pressure or coercion and he had not admitted to providing false testimony nor has he shown any remorse for his actions.
“Every good citizen obeys court orders,” she said.
Justice Charles ruled that the defense must pay indemnity cost.
Counsel for Mr Brown was given up to yesterday evening to say whether they will seek a stay in the matter so they could be granted leave to appeal Justice Charles’ ruling.
Justice Charles’ ruling stems from an ongoing feud between Mr Bacon and fashion designer Peter Nygard, who own adjacent mansions at Lyford Cay. Mr Bacon, an environmentalist, claims that Mr Nygard has retaliated against him because he believes it was Mr Bacon who complained about the alleged environmental damage being done by the dredging of the seabed to expand the Nygard Cay property.
Mr Bacon is suing Mr Nygard for $100m for defamation. He has alleged that the fashion designer organised rallies, marches and protests where he was defamed, created and distributed defamatory T-shirts and signs, published defamatory accusations about him and used websites to defame him.
However, Mr Nygard filed a $50m countersuit in April accusing Mr Bacon of a “vendetta” against him, including harassment and frivolous litigation. Each has denied the other’s allegations.