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Tiyani Bihanzin, left, and Sean Douglas
Tiyani Bihanzin, left, and Sean Douglas

Resident judge Justice Victoria Charles-Clarke suspended court sitting for some minutes after defence counsel Tiyani Behanzin refused to apologise for his insolence and disrespect to the Roseau High Court on Thursday February 9, 2017.

The incident occurred when Crispin Leblanc of Bense charged with assaulting of Ian Paul by choking him in the neck and throwing him to the ground thereby occasioning actual bodily harm had finished giving his account of what had transpired between himself and Paul in Bense on December 17, 2011.

The jury was sent out about 10:04 am, two minutes after Leblanc's defence for the court to hear submissions from counsel as to what could be addressed at the scene of the crime. Counsel Sherma Dalrymple for the State submitted that only evidence that could be addressed from the locus is the matter before this court on December 17, 2011. Defence Counsel Behanzin did not agree and kept on going back to an alleged incident two weeks before.

Justice Charles-Clarke had enough by then and stated that she was fed-up with the insolence and disrespect to the court. She asked Behanzin to apologise to the court more than once, adding that he was undermining the authority of the court. Behanzin mumbled something to the effect that "I apologise generally if I am disrespectful to the court" and that he was being disturbed.

Justice Charles-Clarke exploded: I will not tolerate it.

She asked him to apologise for the last comment, that he was being disturbed. The judge said "the court will rise until you are ready to apologise" and she added that he was bordering on contempt of court.

The court rose at 10:26 and resumed at 11:24 when Judge Charles-Clarke resumed her chair. Behanzin had come in at 11:20 after making attempts to get some notes from a doctor to aid his defence. Back to the apology, the lawyer said, if "I said anything as being disrespectful, it wasn't my intention".

Justice Charles-Clarke reminded defence counsel that he was giving a wrong impression.

"We are all officers of the court and we have a responsibility to the court," she said.

Submissions surrounding evidence to be adduced at the locus resumed. The jury was brought in at 11:29am and preparations for the visit went into full gear.