Anthony J.B. Commodore: "A champion of fairness and justice, a man of great faith"
As lawyers and judges took turns to praise the late Anthony J.B. Commodore, it is evident that the attorney has undoubtedly left an unforgettable and indelible impression on those who came to know him.
Friends and colleagues responded to March 28, 2022, sudden passing of Mr. Commodore at a special virtual sitting of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, where the late attorney was greatly lauded.
Presiding over the proceedings was resident Judge Bernie Stephenson who opened the sitting with a few words and scripture from Hebrews 9:25-27.
"Death is unavoidable," she said, "we are no exception. But we know that they who die in Christ have something to look forward to, that death is not the end, it is their destiny's door. And from what I know of Mr. Commodore, he has acquired his destiny's door as his life was Christ filled and a centered one."
Dominican-born, Justice of Appeal, His Lordship, Davidson K. Baptiste who was Mr. Commodore's schoolmate recollected that from an early age, Mr. Commodore had a particular interest in societal inequality, and oftentimes lamented the loss of the underprivileged.
The acting Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Sherma Dalrymple, regarded Mr. Commodore as a stickler to rules and statutes and encouraged members of the legal fraternity to emulate some of his standards and mannerism.
Dalrymple, who served as the prosecutor in the Rodman Moses Lewis trial and Mr. Commodore as the defense attorney, said she learnt an important lesson from his representation during the matter, "all attorneys must uphold the rule of law."
"A matter where no one wanted to represent the accused Mr. Commodore took this matter because we all are attorneys, and there is a constitution that says that everyone is entitled to legal representation," she said. Attorney Richards sheds tears
In an emotional address to the court, attorney-at-law Gildon Richards told the sitting how he had persuaded Mr. Commodore to join the noble legal profession, a decision he said he did not live to regret.
Richards recollected that in 1990's he was a tutor of the constitutional law programme where Mr. Commodore was a student and following his excellent performance in the programme and much convincing, he was able to sway his friend to leave his post as a Customs Officer of senior rank and attend UWI to pursue a law degree.
"He would often say to me, Gildon is you who put me in this thing and I will never forget you for that and we would smile at each other and I often told him I was proud of him," he recounted through tears. "He had shown commitment and the propensity to appreciate the concept of justice as it should be applied, irrespective of his client's economic means. I seem to share that quality and I believe in that commitment," Richards said. "So Mr. Commodore was not only a colleague to me as I said before, he probably was my closest legal friend."
Commodore was a very "serious" man
To the former Attorney General, Henry Dyer, Mr. Commodore was a "very serious" yet efficient individual, while former Chief Magistrate and former DDP Evelina Baptiste, remembers her late colleague as a no-nonsense person and unrelenting in sticking to his side of the story, to assist his client.
Similar sentiments were also expressed by Magistrate Bernard Pacquette, who told the special sitting that he was impressed with Mr. Commodore's level of commitment and dedication to the cause of his clients.
"His representation was often very profound and emotional," Pacquette said. "He saw himself as the defender especially of the less fortunate ones among us. He carried the woes on his sleeve. It would please me to see members of the profession display that level of commitment and dedication to their clients".
A beneficiary of Mr. Commodore's generosity during their studies and legal career, Hazel Johnson, who represented the President and members of the Dominica Bar Association, said her late friend was a very principled person.
Proud to be from Grand Bay
"He was also proud of his Grand Bay origins," Johnson said. "Some may describe him as a religious man but I say that it went much deeper and more substantial than that. Commodore was a man of deep faith and conviction and one of his most admirable qualities as far as I'm concerned was that he lived his life based on his faith."
In paying her tribute to her late colleague, Ellise Darwton, described Mr. Commodore as a very family-oriented, loyal friend, with a burning sense of justice and fairness.
Before bringing an end to the proceedings, Justice Stephenson called for a minute of silence in memory of their late colleague.
Mr. Commodore was called to the Dominica Bar on October 24, 1997, and worked as a State Attorney in the Attorney General's Chambers of the Government of Dominica for many years. He later earned a Master of Laws degree in Maritime Law.
In or about 2005 he worked as an in-house counsel at the Dominica AID Bank where he remained for some years until he established his own private legal practice known as Elijah Law Chambers in 2011.
He was laid to rest on April 20th at the Grand Bay public cemetery.
-By Ronalda Luke