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Full Court dismisses appeal filed by Attorney detained by SOCU

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– ordered to pay $200,000 costs to AG

The Full Court of the High Court on Thursday heard and dismissed an appeal in the case of Tamieka Clarke against the Attorney General Anil Nandlall, in a case linked to her unlaw arrest by the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) back in October 2022.
Attorney Clarke had appealed a decision of Chief Justice Roxane George, who ordered the Attorney General to pay Clarke damages of $700,000 and costs in the sum of $250,000.

Attorney-at-Law Tameika Clarke

Clarke was detained for under an hour by ranks of SOCU at SOCU Headquarters on October 28, 2022. She had filed a Fixed Date Application, suing the AG for breach of her fundamental right to liberty, pursuant to Article 139 of the Constitution, and had sought declaratory orders and damages relating to her detention. At time of the incident, the Attorney General had issued a public apology to Clarke, and had made several offers to settle the matter out of court in order to avoid protracted litigation, but those were rejected by Clarke.

Attorney General Anil Nandlall

The matter came up for hearing on June 12, 2023 before Chief Justice George, and the AG conceded liability on the part of the State, leaving only the question of compensation to be determined. On November 17, 2023, following submissions by both parties, the Court determined the issue and ordered that SOCU apologize to Clarke. And Clarke was awarded $700,000 and costs of $250,000, which were appealed.
At the High Court on Thursday, the AG objected to the jurisdiction of the Full Court to hear the appeal filed, arguing that the appeal should have been filed to the Court of Appeal, as it related to a final decision of the High Court in the exercise of its jurisdiction on matters of enforcement of fundamental rights and freedoms. After listening to submissions from both sides, the Full Court upheld the AG’s jurisdictional objection, ruling that the appeal should have been directed to the Court of Appeal. The Full Court also awarded the Attorney General costs in the sum of $200,000.

Chief Justice (ag) Roxane George

The Attorney General appeared in person, along with Shoshanna V. Lall, Laurel Dundas, Aruna Budhram, and Ismat Bacchus for the respondent. Clarke was represented by attorneys-at-law Nigel Hughes and Shawn Shewram.

This incident, which had sparked widespread condemnation and even protest action by the legal fraternity, occurred on October 28, 2022 at the SOCU Headquarters on Camp Road, Georgetown. At the time, Attorney Clarke had accompanied her client, who was under investigation by SOCU, to the agency’s office, where he was asked to sign a statement. However, the man told investigators that he was advised by his lawyer not to sign anything.

SOCU Headquarters on Camp Road

This resulted in a SOCU official accusing the attorney of preventing her client from giving a statement, and he ordered that she be arrested for obstructing an officer in the conduct of his duties. Her cell phone was taken away, and she was prevented from leaving.
As such, Clarke remained detained at SOCU until her lawyer Nigel Hughes got there.
Clarke, who had previously served as a State Counsel in the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), was released only after the intervention of Nandlall, who had offered her a profound apology for the “unfortunate incident”.
Attorney Clarke subsequently filed a lawsuit against the State, naming the Attorney General as the respondent. She was seeking more than $300,000 in damages for, among other things, false imprisonment and violation of her constitutional rights.
Shalimar Ali-Hack, SC, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), had recommended that no criminal charge should be filed against SOCU officials for Clarke’s arrest, and had also discontinued the private criminal charges that Clarke’s counsel had filed against the officers.

The post Full Court dismisses appeal filed by Attorney detained by SOCU appeared first on Guyana Times.

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