The lawyer for embattled Long Island MP Adrian Gibson yesterday asked Justice Cheryl Grant-Thompson to step down from the case because her late husband was a Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Cabinet minister.
Murrio Ducille, KC, made a formal application for recusal when Gibson and his co-accused appeared before Grant-Thompson for a trial fixture hearing for his corruption trial concerning the award of contracts by the Water and Sewerage Corporation while he served as its executive chairman.
In addition to representing Gibson, Ducille appears for Joann Knowles, Gibson’s campaign general, and Jerome Missick.
Raphael Moxey, who represents Peaches Farquharson; Brian Dorsett, who represents Rashae Gibson, and Donald Saunders, who represents Elwood Donaldson, the corporation’s former general manager, did not join the motion for recusal.
Ducille said, “M’lady, we’re not saying that you’re not fit to try the case. What we’re saying, really, is the perception, having regard to your ladyship’s history.
“Your husband was once a minister of government under the PLP and Adrian Gibson is a member of the opposition party. So, what would a fair-minded bystander looking at it all perceive?
“It’s nothing personal, where your ladyship is concerned, but we feel that another judge should hear the matter.”
Grant-Thompson asked Ducille, “When you referred to my husband, were you referring to Mr. Peter Bethel?”
When Ducille confirmed that he was, the judge replied, “You are aware of the date of his death?”
Bethel died of cancer 2000.
Appearing for the director of public prosecutions, Eucal Bonaby said he saw no basis for Grant-Thompson to step down.
He noted that the facts will be determined by a jury, and if Gibson felt that the trial judge made any errors in law, her decisions could be appealed to a higher court.
Grant-Thompson also addressed Ducille’s concern that Gibson was seated in the prisoner’s dock.
She said he was no different from any other defendant and that it was her desire for all of the defendants to sit in the dock.
However, this wasn’t possible due to space constraints. The Gibsons, Knowles and Missick were in the dock while Farquharson and Donaldson sat in chairs next to the jury box.
Grant-Thompson will give her decision on the recusal application at 11 a.m. tomorrow.