By LAMECH JOHNSON
Tribune Staff Reporter
COMMITTAL proceedings against two lawyers who accused a Supreme Court judge of bias will now be heard in December.
Keod Smith and Derek Ryan were due to appear before Justice Rhonda Bain yesterday for a contempt hearing to show cause why they should not be committed to prison concerning a series of affidavits filed by Mr Smith, who was represented by Mr Ryan, in January 2014.
However, yesterday marked a third straight non-appearance by both lawyers since September, when the judge said she may resort to indirectly servicing them with notices to show cause if they refused to voluntarily make themselves available.
The court and Elliot Lockhart, QC, lawyer for both, agreed to an adjournment for the hearing on December 8.
Justice Bain is presiding over the judicial review filed by the Coalition to Protect Clifton Bay, which is challenging an application by Peter Nygard to further develop his premises in Lyford Cay and gain a lease for Crown Land reclaimed from the sea.
Fred Smith, QC, lead counsel for the environmental group, alleges that over the last 30 years, Nygard Cay has nearly doubled in size as a result of construction work undertaken without the appropriate permits and in a manner that had caused significant damage to the surrounding environment of Clifton Bay.
In January 2014, Keod Smith filed a series of affidavits claiming that Justice Bain should recuse herself from a judicial review proceeding as she had allegedly made a series of decisions based on her affiliation with the Free National Movement.
Ten months later, Keod Smith attempted to withdraw the application for the recusal, notwithstanding a section of an affidavit filed in January entitled “Justice Bain, who is she?”
He alleged the judge once worked under former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham, that she was appointed to a high-ranking position in the Attorney General’s Office because of her ties to the FNM and that her two sons were fathered by a person he claimed is a close friend and advisor to Mr Ingraham.
Keod Smith also claimed that Justice Bain had made several rulings in favour of Fred Smith, who in the past had been affiliated with the FNM, and “can only be explained as coming about as a result of her bias”.
In December 2014, Justice Bain found Keod Smith guilty of contempt for the “scandalising” affidavits he had filed which undermined the integrity of the judge and the judicial system. His then lawyer, Mr Ryan, was also informed that he “cannot escape liability” for the affidavits.
At a contempt hearing a month later, Mr Lockhart appeared for Keod Smith, a former Progressive Liberal Party MP, and expressed his reservations about the proceedings and argued that the court had already arrived at a determination without first considering any evidence to refute the charge of contempt.
The judge ruled, after a hearing in March 2015, that the court would proceed with notice against the attorney to show cause why he should not be committed to prison.
However, the judge stayed contempt proceedings pending the outcome of Keod Smith’s application before the Court of Appeal.
In January, Mr Lockhart was unable to convince appellate court judges that his client’s appeal was not premature and Mr Smith’s appeal was dismissed.