Categorized | National News

Bishop Lodges Complaint Against Chief Magistrate

The war of words between a local bishop and the chief magistrate has now been forwarded to the Attorney General’s Office and the chief justice after the bishop lodged a formal complaint against the judge.

Earlier this month Bishop Walter Hanchell and Chief Magistrate Joyann Ferguson-Pratt got into a bitter spat after she arraigned youth pastor 27-year-old Arsineo Butler on indecently assaulting a 15-year-old boy and arraigned both Butler and 25-year-old Devin Sears on child cruelty, in which police alleged that they gave the boy an “intoxicating liquor.”

She then deferred her decision on bail and the pastors spent a night at Her Majesty’s Prisons.

But Bishop Hanchell told the media at the time that the chief magistrate’s actions were “ugly” and that should have immediately recused herself from the case as he alleged that she personally knows Butler and the complainant.

At the pastors’ bail hearing the next day in front of a packed courtroom, Chief Magistrate Ferguson-Pratt told Bishop Hanchell that it was “unacceptable and reprehensible” that someone who – on the face of it – is a man of God would make such scurrilous remarks that would call the justice system into question.

Bishop Hanchell then accused the chief magistrate of trying to intimidate him.

In a letter dated February 17, 2014 and addressed to the chief justice as well as the attorney general Bishop Hanchell lodged a formal complaint.

“During the meeting with attorney Ramona Farquharson, Mr. Arsenio Butler Jr. informed her that he would have known the chief magistrate personally and then when the said charges arose he contacted the chief magistrate on her cell phone due to the fact that she was away with the virtual complainant’s grandmother,” the letter read.

“Furthermore, due to remarks made by the chief magistrate during the said phone call, the defendants were fearful of the chief magistrate having carriage of the matter. Once it was revealed that the case would be going to her court for the arraignment, instructions were given to attorney Ramona Farquharson to ask the chief magistrate to recuse herself.”

Bishop Hanchell, in his written complaint, also noted that he has been advised that the chief magistrate noted that she would not recuse herself entirely but would be dealing with the arraignment and bail issues.

Bishop Hanchell said he finds it “reprehensible” that the chief magistrate would take on the matter given her alleged links to both the defendant and the complainant.

“I reiterate that my complaint centres around her refusal to recuse herself and thereby adjudicating in the initial proceedings of this case,” he added.

The chief justice has also promised to forward the matter on to the Attorney Generals’ Office for review.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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