Public access to court hearing

| 24/01/2020 | 9 Comments

On behalf of all who are involved with the public interest activities and efforts of the Concerned Citizens Group, we would like to publicly thank most sincerely all of you who came to the Court House on Thursday, 9 January, to give moral support to the cause for preserving and regaining beach accesses in the Cayman Islands.

We too were disappointed that, regretfully, you were not allowed to enter and attend inside the Court Room.

As many of you will be aware, although we, as the applicants, were given access to the third floor of the building, we were not invited into the courtroom either. The judge’s marshal informed us and the lawyers that only the lawyers were being invited to attend.

However, we were subsequently informed by our lawyers that the Judge only became aware, deep into the proceedings, that his blanket order effectively also excluded us, the applicants, from being present during the hearing. As our lawyers mentioned outside the courthouse, the judge expressed regret for the misunderstanding and made it clear that our exclusion was inadvertent.

We have to explain for the record that weeks before the scheduled date of the hearing, we had informed the court by email that there would be a number of people attending, and accordingly we requested a larger courtroom, even though the matter was listed to be heard as a chamber matter. Nevertheless, as it turned out, there was no intention to allow the general public in anyway.

As stated by our lawyers outside the courthouse after the hearing, the judge has ordered that the attorney general submit his written arguments within 21 days from the 9 January, and that our lawyers respond within 14 days of receiving the attorney general’s arguments. Meanwhile, the parties are working to find a convenient date for the hearing, which is to be for one day. Although this date has not yet been agreed, our lawyers say it is unlikely to be earlier than March 2020.

Regarding public attendance at the next hearing, we believe that it is necessary for a matter of this level of importance that the public be able to attend. Accordingly, we have instructed our lawyers to formally request the judge to have the next hearing in open court and have this settled before the date of hearing so that everyone who wants to attend can attend and hear the legal arguments. We will endeavour to inform you in advance what the judge will order.

Our lawyers have since made us aware of the following provision from the Grand Court Rules Order 32 Rule 13, which states as follows:

“13. (1) The Judge in Chambers may direct that any summons, application or appeal shall be heard in Court or shall be adjourned into Court to be so heard if he considers that by reason of its importance or for any other reason it should be so heard.

        (2) Any matter heard in Court by virtue of a direction under paragraph (1) above may be adjourned from Court into Chambers.”

Accordingly, our lawyers will be making representations to the judge on this basis so that, if he rules as we hope, the public can be allowed to attend open court proceedings.

Thank you all again for attending court and for your continued support.  We will keep you abreast of events. God Bless!

Alice Mae Coe, Annie Multon and Ezmie Smith

(the Applicants in Alice Mae Coe et al v Governor et al GC 66 of 2019)

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Category: Letter to Editor, Viewpoint

Comments (9)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    It’s notable that the controversial wall at public beach, was only tiled with Cayman rock on one side. No wheelchair/stroller/bicycle ramps for any of the new “boardwalk” access points from the parking lot – including handicapped parking. Who okayed all of this corner-cutting?!? Is it possible someone thinks nobody will notice?

  2. Anonymous says:

    With our well regarded worldwide reputation as being seafarers next in line to the Norwegians and our historical connections with the sea for survival etc, out of the public interest surely access to the beaches should be enshrined as a fundamental right in our Constitution.
    Whoever can put this in our Constitution will have my vote.

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    • Anonymous says:

      It is already a fundamental aspect of our laws and does not require any constitutional protection. The rights care prescriptive and override all.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Seafarers next in line to the Norwegians? I take my hat off to the tough men who hunted turtle over a few hundred miles of ocean and served on National Bulk to earn money for their families, but comparison to the Norwegians whose ancestors crossed the Atlantic in small craft, to say nothing or other famous seafaring nations like the Polynesians, is pushing it a bit.

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  3. Supporter says:

    Way to go, Alice-Mae

  4. Anonymous says:

    Wow! Was that a huge mistake, an oversight, or a huge bumble?

  5. Anonymous says:

    Opacity is an ever-present problem throughout the Cayman Islands. Culturally, it’s how things have been done since the privateer days, but not how business should be conducted in 2020. Our judiciary is just one of many public service mechanisms improperly accustomed to obstructing eyewitnesses and accountability. We deserve whatever CFATF throws at us. Sadly, it’s all true.

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  6. Anon says:

    Caymanians fighting for us all. I love it!

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