Isat gets stay of GLC’s two-year suspension
THE Court of Appeal on Tuesday granted a stay of the General Legal Council’s (GLC) decision to suspend attorney Isat Buchanan for two years for breaches of the canons of professional ethics, pending an appeal of the verdict.
Buchanan’s crude commentary directed at Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Paula Llewellyn, King’s Counsel, and Justice Minister Delroy Chuck, King’s Counsel, had seen the GLC ruling that he be suspended for two years, effective December 5, 2023. Additionally, he was fined $500,000 by the Disciplinary Committee of the GLC which ordered that he pay costs in the amount of $20,000.
Attorney for Buchanan, Valerie Neita-Robertson, King’s Counsel, who had submitted that her client was genuinely contrite and had learnt his lesson, indicated that she would be filing an application to appeal the ruling and as such would be requesting a stay of the decision until the hearing of the appeal.
Speaking with the Jamaica Observer on Tuesday, following the court hearing, Neita-Robertson said a notice of application for that appeal was filed with the court shortly after the ruling of the GLC.
In making their submissions for the stay to be granted Tuesday, Buchanan’s legal team argued that, “If the suspension begins now, by the time the Court of Appeal hears the matter he would have served the two years as the matter has a case management hearing date of July this year.”
Neita-Robertson said her client, who is abroad, has been informed of the development. The stay being granted, she explained, in effect means her client will be able to appear before the Judicial Committee of the United Kingdom Privy Council for convicted killer Adidja Palmer, O/C Vybz Kartel, on February 14 and 15 next year.
Buchanan is part of the legal team heading the appeal for Kartel who is currently serving a life sentence following his murder conviction in relation to the death of Clive “Lizard” Williams in April 2014. He will be eligible for parole after 32 years and six months.
Kartel’s co-accused, Shawn “Shawn Storm” Campbell and Kahira Jones, are to serve 22 years and six months before they are eligible for parole, while Andre St John will do 27 years and six months before qualifying for eligibility.
The GLC, in handing down the decision earlier this month, described the language used by Buchanan in a YouTube programme in August this year as “offensive, profane, vulgar, foul, and obscene”.
In the YouTube programme, called Pawdna Draw TV, Buchanan had quoted from a recording done by Vybz Kartel in which he instructs the DPP to commit a sexual act.
He had also described the justice minister as “a constitutional paedophile” who “finger f… the constitution”.
Buchanan resigned as chairman of the People’s National Party’s Human Rights Commission after public outrage at his comments.
The GLC said that at the commencement of the hearing before the disciplinary committee Neita-Robertson had indicated that her client would not be contesting the matter and was prepared to admit to the complaint laid by the complainant, Denise Kitson, KC, who is also chair of the GLC.
Kitson described the language used by Buchanan as profane and his conduct as dishonourable and obscene. She said she had received several written and verbal communication from not only members of the legal profession but also concerned citizens who deplored Buchanan’s conduct. The GLC said that Buchanan, after being sworn, gave evidence that he was not contesting the complaint, and specifically that he was not contesting that he had breached canons I (b) and VIII (b) of the profession.
Buchanan had also offered, at a part of his evidence in summary, that the show that he was on caters to a certain demographic of Jamaicans, the majority of whom are uneducated people, and if he is not animated and not using profanity he cannot bring the point home to these persons.