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Tuesday 21 November 2017
Crime and Court

Magistrate accused of bias

A Magistrate has been accused of making damning statements in court, and the woman bringing the complaint is seeking to have the High Court remove him from hearing her case. UWI student Giselle Samaroo of Talparo, has accused Magistrate Brian Dabideen, who is in the Arima Court, of being biased against her attorney.

She says she fears she will not get a fair trial before the magistrate because of the statements he made in court. Samaroo claims that on October 6, when she appeared before Dabideen on charges of malicious damage and assault by beating, Dabideen said in open court, “Once I realise that an attorney tries to mislead this court on more than one occasion, that attorney will have a difficult time before me. All his clients will go to jail, he will lose all his matters and very soon no one will go to them, ‘cause the word is going to spread.”

Samaroo is being represented by attorney Reynold Waldrop. Dabideen has refused to remove himself from her case. Samaroo claims his continuing to hear her case could result in an injustice to her. The case has been adjourned to January and in the meantime Samaroo has filed a judicial-review application which came up for hearing before Justice Frank Seepersad in the Port of Spain High Court on Tuesday. Justice Seepersad said the allegation is serious as the alleged statements appeared to eviscerate the presumption of innocence and fell below the required conduct of a judicial officer, who had to make a clear decision to put aside biases and adjudicate on cases impartially.

“At the end of the day, if these statements were made, if the words alleged were used, it raises a serious issue as to the presumption of innocence that all litigants have. It does not change that the court has an obligation to treat with the evidence before it devoid of personalities,” the judge said. In granting leave to Samaroo to pursue her case against Magistrate Dabideen, Justice Seepersad ordered her to file her judicial-review claim by November 21. He has adjourned the matter to December 11.

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