Feet dragging in the courts
From the days when the Government in the 1920s contrived to take the land from the inhabitants of Tucker's Town, it has always seemed that in too many ways the courts were one of those legal whips that the power brokers or the old oligarchs, and even still today, were able to use as a punishing persuader to keep the Bermudian community in check and under heavy manners.
Unfortunately for me, back in the early 1960s, I was caught up in an event as an innocent participant that involved the police. Long after the incident had gone through the courts, I found myself unnecessarily being constantly harassed by certain police detectives for their own glorification. I wound up being the victim of a few overzealous policemen and, at the time, I was too poor to be able to seek any help.
It was from that experience that I had learnt that the courts in some cases, and I guess that depended who was sitting on the bench, did not seem to favour justice coming down on the side of black people. Remember now, those were the days of rampant racism even in the courts, where one was made out to be guilty first then had to fight like hell to prove one's own innocence.
In my research into the Tucker's Town issue, I found that a tribunal, not the courts, was put under the direction of three men to settle that particular land issue.
I also discovered that those who had hired lawyers that appeared before this tribunal on their behalf were allowed to challenge only the monetary amounts their clients were to be paid, not whether their clients could keep their land or not. The debate for one to keep their land was not allowed on the table for discussion. Yet the same court in which one was not allowed to challenge against the taking of the land in Tucker's Town was then made responsible for the safekeeping of the Tucker's Town compensation money — and for one to receive any mediated payoff, one had to show proof of ownership of land to the courts by submitting their deeds before collecting any monies. What kind of justice is that, Mr Editor?
A very good friend of mine, Russell Dismount, for ten years had to put up a fight in the courts with the United Bermuda Party government before he, in the end, won his case; the government of the day wanted to pay him way less than he had already paid for the property.
Then there was this other friend who had a long-running battle with a bank who, in the end, lost her property after much feet dragging and many months of delays in the courts. Then, on top of that, to add even more insult to injury, one of the three appeals court judges went out of his way to insult her intelligence. So much for justice being blind.
I could still remember the case of Richard Hector versus The Royal Gazette, a case that went on for so long that it was being moved all around town from one venue after another. I guess they got tired after a while of dragging poor Hector all around town that they decided to call it a day, and Mr Hector in the end wound up losing the case.
I don't know, maybe someone can help me here, but why does it seem that this thing we call justice in a little place such as Bermuda at times seems to be some rich guy's little ankle-biting pet pooch?
You need not even bother to look up the Hill at the place if you don't have the cash needed to be able to buy the type of justice you need to get your hide off the hook. And may all the gods that reside in all the heavens be on your side if you ever find the nerve to challenge the old oligarchs in what seems to be their courts.
Another thing is this, do I look at the Chief Justice of Bermuda in somewhat the same light as those who are appointed to the Supreme Court of the United States, where it seems political ideologues instead of justices are able to balance the scale of justice? Are we sailing on that same ship as well?
I'm afraid that Bermuda seems like the place, coupled with much feet dragging, where a blue-collar worker such as myself would die waiting for justice while not being able to have the cash to pay for it.
E. McNEIL STOVELL