A near 13 years tenure of High Court Judge Bernie Stephenson in Dominica will come to an end effect from July 15, 2022
The Guyana-born who served as Dominica’s resident judge in the civil section was assigned to the post in October 2009, following her appointment by the Judicial and Legal Services Commission of the Caribbean Community to be a High Court Judge of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court.
In announcing Stephenson’s departure, Deputy Chief Registrar Carlos Cameron Michel said she will be transferred to St. Vincent & the Grenadines.
Justice Stephenson was educated at the University of Guyana and the University of the West Indies. From 1987 to 1991, she worked as a lawyer in Guyana.
In 1991 and 1992, she moved to Saint Kitts and Nevis and was legal counsel to the Government of Nevis. In 1992, she moved to Anguilla, where she worked as a lawyer until 2000 (she became the first female to serve as President of the Anguilla Bar Association in 1996) when she moved to the British Virgin Islands and worked as a lawyer.
She moved back to Anguilla in 2002 to practice and in 2004 was appointed as a court magistrate, court registrar, and head of the Judicial Department of the government.
During her tenure in Dominica, opposition forces have accused the judge of being biased toward the government claiming that her long stint in Dominica, had caused her to become “too involved and engrossed in the country’s affairs”.
“Bernie Stephenson cannot be fair; she cannot be impartial; she cannot be independent; she cannot be objective where the dispensation of justice as it involves the United Workers Party in Dominica is concerned and she should recuse herself from this matter,” Linton said in his calls for her recusal in the elections petition case which was filed by the United Workers Party (UWP) after the 2019 general election.
Linton’s statements and others alike prompted a response from the Dominica Bar Association in defense of the Judge condemning what they said was an attack on Justice Stephenson and by extension Dominica’s judiciary.
Senior Counsel Antony Astaphan, the government’s senior legal adviser, described alleged claims of biasness by Justice Stephenson against the Opposition as “absolute nonsense,” as according to him, the Judge has ruled in favour of and against government opposers.
There is no word yet on Justice Stephenson’s replacement.