Judge aborts trial after concerns over attorney

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Justice Lisa Ramsumair-Hinds –

A HIGH COURT judge aborted the trial of a man charged with shooting with intent after she raised concerns about his attorney’s competence.

Justice Lisa Ramsumair-Hinds also raised concerns about the attorney’s conduct following an incident which took place the day before while she was giving a ruling on an application by the State to have one of its witnesses treated as hostile.

Ramsumair-Hinds said she had to ensure the accused received a fair trial and there was due process.

She discharged the nine-member jury panel selected for the trial. The accused is expected to face a fresh trial once the issue of who will represent him is sorted out by the Legal Aid and Advisory Authority since his trial lawyer was retained by them.

In explaining why she was aborting the case, the judge said she was not satisfied with the ability of the attorney or his knowledge of the law.

She cited cases referred to by him in his opposition to the State’s application, saying he would have had an advantage over other lawyers because of the judge who delivered the rulings.

“I am concerned that your representation might be under a degree of question…It affects the safety of the trial…I am going to abort the trial…I have to protect the process. It is futile to go on if it raises a red flag at this stage,” she said.

She also said it left the lawyer open to a possible appeal on the ground of incompetence.

Ramsumair-Hinds also referred to Monday’s incident when the lawyer walked out of the courtroom while she was giving her ruling on the State’s application.

She said it was surprising that he did not know he needed the court’s permission to leave despite his apologies that he had an emergency.

In responding to the court’s ruling, the young attorney said while he accepted the court’s concerns and guidance, he wanted to put on the record he has been conducting criminal cases since 2016, including murder cases, and was objecting to the court’s position on the issue of his incompetence.