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The many sides of attorney-at-law David Rowe

WIGNALL’S WORLD

Mark Wignall

Sunday, January 02, 2011    

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IN his most recent foray into our lives, he was the Florida-based Jamaican lawyer who took the telephonic deposition/affidavit of self-styled JLP activist Ian Johnson in which Johnson made numerous damaging accusations against Energy and Mining Minister James Robertson.

Previous to that Rowe was on the airwaves in Jamaica giving his expert advice on the Buju Banton trial, much of which did not go down too well among Jamaicans who were, most of them, naturally drawn by emotion to see Buju as set up by the powerful homosexual lobby in the US.

To most Jamaicans I spoke with, Buju — one of their own — was definitely not guilty, thus when Rowe suggested that Banton should have struck a plea bargain deal with the prosecutors, the bloggers in cyberspace denounced Rowe in language that could never be used in this space.

A few years ago, like many of us who were convinced that David Smith and Olint were solid, Rowe was himself of the view that after the 2006 raid on Olint by the Jamaican FSC, Jamaica had got rid of a man whom he called, 'The very rich David Smith'. In a letter to the Sunday Herald in December 2006 he made reference to David Smith as follows: "St Kitts and the Turks and Caicos are laughing at us. They love to do business with successful Jamaicans who we run out of town."

Rowe was even more in praise of Cash Plus, which he saw as a good corporate citizen, involved in the purchase of a major Kingston hotel and funding Jamaica's Premier League football. After Olint and Cash Plus flopped, the attorney was in the forefront of those lodging lawsuits on behalf of those who suffered losses in that failed entity and we exchanged many e-mails in that regard.

In terms of Cash Plus, in April 2008 David Rowe filed suit in the Supreme Court of Jamaica against the failed investment scheme for US$1,663,537.15 or at the time, the equivalent of J$117,780,116.28. The defendants were Cash Plus, Carlos Hill and Kevin Bandoian, the receiver/manager of the scheme.

During the course of last month, certain information was passed to me which led me to examine it in an effort to determine its authenticity. After I had done my usual checks I contacted David Rowe, and his response was that I had run an illegal credit report on him.

According to his e-mail, "I am a solo practitioner, with a small firm. Many of my clients are indigent and poor black people who have trouble bearing the costs of litigation. I have never reneged on a debt and I am extended significant amounts of credit. I have been in practice for 29 years.

"I know that the JLP, specifically Mr xxxx and Mr xxxxx have been engaged in this effort to discredit me. They have obtained the information illegally as I did not give them the right to access my credit history. I will ask my lawyers to contact the FBI concerning their violations of the Fair Debt Collection Act and their Violations of the Truth In Lending Statutes. I assume you do not wish to be an Accessory After The Fact."

I did not initiate any credit check on Rowe. The documents I have are public documents obtained from Court records and authenticated in December 2010 as copies of the originals.

The learned attorney, who is a member of the Florida Bar and an Adjunct Professor of Law at the University of Miami Law School, is even more well-known for the fact that his late father was the eminent Caribbean jurist Ira Rowe. David Rowe has authored three books, Ira Rowe, Caribbean Lawyer, School Days and Test Cricketers That I Have Known.

According to his résumé, he has supervised 12 theses in Caribbean Law at the University of Miami School of Law and St Thomas University. Additionally it states the following;

"Qualified as an Expert Witness by Federal Court in Caribbean Law and modern Jamaican politics. Registered and designated as a Foreign Agent for Jamaica during the period 1984 to 1989.

"Qualified as an Expert Witness by the Board of Immigration Appeals on police torture and violence in Jamaica. My advice has been sought on Caribbean Law Issues by the United States State Department and the United States Department of Justice on an ongoing basis. I have taught law school classes jointly with Special Agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration concerning US Law Enforcement and its extra-territorial role in the Caribbean. I have consulted professionally with Al Jazeera TV, Moscow TV, People Magazine, BBC, Time Magazine and the Associated Press concerning Caribbean Law Issues."

Like most high achievers, Rowe is obviously not one to shun the spotlight, even though his positions come across as very anti-JLP administration. That position, however, cannot be seen as out of the ordinary at this time when the administration seems to be making it easier for Jamaicans to share that view.

Among the items I had raised to David Rowe, who is an adjunct Professor at the University of Miami Law School, is a Civil Division Case Number 01-8900 SP 25 (2) Court Document, University of Miami, Plaintiff vs David P Rowe, Defendant. Now, I have no axe to grind against the professor, but in the public's right to know, when I contacted Rowe, his response was that it was the wrong David Rowe, yet the State of Florida, Country of Dade has authenticated the document in December 2010 and it bears the signature of David Rowe.

It is a matter going back nine years, an almost trivial matter - 'Plaintiff, University of Miami, by undersigned counsel, and Defendant, David P Rowe, by the signature below, stipulate that the Defendant is indebted to the plaintiff in the principal sum of $1,500 plus interest of $1,126.25 accrued to date, together with court costs of $78.00 (waived under payment plan) for a total amount of $2,704.25 which defendant agrees to pay according to the installment payment schedule attached hereto...'

Many of us owe bills from time to time and fail to pay on time, but we always try to avoid the matter being taken to a court of law, especially if the entity is one we are attached to in a formal manner.

In another matter in April 2005, Riviera Country Club of Coral Gables, Plaintiff vs David P Rowe Defendant. Final Judgment of Default. 'Adjudged that Plaintiff Riviera Country Club of Coral Gables, Inc recover from Defendant David P Rowe the sum of $9,083.46 plus costs in the sum of $245 making a total of $9,328.46 that shall bear interest at the legal rate, for which sum of $9,328.46 let execution issue forthwith.'

According to Mr. Rowe, "I was overcharged 15 years ago for an event. I paid it off."

In other matters — Order dissolving Writ of Garnishment, Taxing Post Judgment and Garnishment Costs and Ordering Clerk to issue New Writ of Garnishment — JM Investigations vs David Rowe going way back to 1995, Rowe informed me that "JM Investigations, an investigator who a client hired sued me the lawyer, the matter was resolved".

In another matter, Satisfaction of Judgment — Esquire Express Inc vs David Rowe 1997 — Rowe said, "I paid for a client's deposition costs."

In another, Jessica R Berman & Assoc vs David Rowe, June 1998 Rowe said, "I paid for a client's deposition costs."

In another — Final Default Judgment — Taylor, Jonovic, White & Gendron vs David Rowe September 2002, he said, "I paid deposition costs for a client."

In yet another matter — Final Judgment — Esquire Deposition Services LLC vs David Rowe, September 2005 the professor said, "I paid off a client's deposition costs."

In terms of Rowe's claims that he paid off clients' deposition costs, an attorney advised me, "If I contact a court reporter and I request their services, I am responsible to pay. While my client is responsible to pay me costs, it is not a recognisable legal defence 'my client did not pay me.' The privity is between the attorney requesting the services and the service provider."

Any chance of real renewal for the JLPNP?

Once Eddie Seaga, ex-JLP leader, had poured cold water on the idea of younger blood replacing the oldsters in the JLP and cited it as gross disrespect for those who had laid the political groundwork, I saw it as a standard Seaga response.

The irony is, he and I are agreed that no real renewal is at hand. To me, the attempt at renewal in the ruling JLP is nothing more than political strategy to make the JLP appear more favourable to the electorate. That is what political parties do. It is their lifeblood.

The real problem with Seaga's position is that we have no great body of political work that we can see and feel and make a declaration that it has advanced us as a people since independence. Indeed, it is mostly in the opposite direction of disunity, criminality and guns in our politics that make leaders of that era stand out.

Had Jamaica been a strong political, social and economic contender for leadership in Caricom and the region, Seaga's pooh-poohing of 'reform' and 'renewal' would have been widely accepted.

In the era when I grew up, children were mostly to be seen rather than heard. In fact, that mantra was encouraged. To Seaga, that mantra still obtains.

If we go by the Seaga thesis, bright youngsters in the JLP like Delano Seiveright and Warren Newby must wait until they reach 50 before they are considered worthwhile enough to challenge for any significant posts of leadership.

In recent weeks, even the new JLP Gen Sec Aundre Franklin seems to have shucked off his tribal past and has begun to sound like a responsible adult. If we should give the Seaga wisdom its just due, Franklin would be out in the cane piece until he touches 50 and beyond.

A hard worker and a master delegator like Information Minister Daryl Vaz would very definitely not be part of a Seaga team and his brashness and youth would only be part of the problem for a Seaga-led JLP. Although Andrew Holness was a protégé of Eddie Seaga, it probably would be considered political sacrilege should he mount a challenge for leadership of the JLP.

The bright youngsters in both political parties must take heed of only little of what the oldsters have to say for the simple reason that, while the veterans may have had their moments of flash, the socio-economic state of the country from 1962 until now has not given them much of a steady ground to stand on.

The PNP has the luxury of being in Opposition where it can encapsulate itself for months at a time with no questions asked by the public. Its arthritic stance may yet catch up with it in the mid months of the year, but it probably feels that the ruling JLP administration is its own worst enemy. So, for now, the PNP can enjoy its extended vacation and put off any attempts of renewal.

One thing the PNP can be assured of is no public vocal interference by its past leader, PJ Patterson. As he was as an active leader, so he is in his retirement.

In Seaga's case, so he was as an active leader, so he is in his political retirement. Vocally divisive.

observemark@gmail.com

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