By Latrishka Thomas
Chief Magistrate Joanne Walsh, in response to a request made in a letter from MP Asot Michael’s lawyer, said that she will be recusing herself from the case, Chuka Lewis v Asot Michael.
In fact, she alleged that Michael, the MP for St Peter had threatened her.
“I am recusing myself from the case, not because of what is in the letter, but because Asot Michael threatened me,” she disclosed to Observer.
Michael categorically denied the Chief Magistrate’s claim. “All I did was indicate via WhatsApp message that I would send a written complaint to the Chief Justice of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court seeking to have her removed from the bench for corruption and skullduggery which I will substantiate with incontrovertible evidence. It is a promise to act in the interest of the integrity of our system of justice”, He said.
However the Chief Magistrate said that she rejects everything noted in the missive dated September 14 and signed by Michael’s lawyer, Hugh Marshall Jr.
In the letter, Michael’s legal representative accused the Chief Magistrate of confusing her powers and said: “we are confident that it is no longer appropriate for you now to continue to exercise any judicial function in this matter going forward”.
It stated that using the test for judicial independence and apparent bias set out in Porter v Magill , “there is no doubt that this test is met in the present case.”
The letter further cited the reason for their request saying that the Chief Magistrate’s issuance of a bench warrant on September 9 was related to the fact that Michael is a public figure.
It also claimed that Chief Magistrate Walsh is a defendant in a matter which Michael has challenged in the High Court.
Moreover, the letter stated that as an employee of the government, the Chief Magistrate reports to the executive of which the head “made certain adverse statements on a private radio station in relation to Mr Michael and him being arrested”, on September 5.
With that in mind, Marshall & Co told the Chief Magistrate that “[their] client and any fair minded observer will be concerned that in circumstances where the law gave you no apparent authority, you chose to issue a warrant when you were aware or ought to have been aware that such an issuance was wholly without legal authority”.
It was further noted that the case was taking place under her civil and not her criminal jurisdiction and Michael had not been charged with any offence.
“The power to issue a warrant only applied to matters in which an information or complaint is laid,” the letter stated.
The matter will continue on Monday with a new magistrate.