(CMR) The Cayman Islands Judiciary is allegedly conducting several investigations into the behavior of senior management at the Courts Office. According to exclusive CMR sources, a full investigation has been launched into the behavior of two senior members of the Cayman Islands Judiciary for bullying.
One of the two also allegedly being investigated for interfering with a judge's orders in relation to a debt court matter.
An emergency staff meeting was called in late July with all court staff after reports of bullying by high-level court administrators. Sources indicate that the meeting happened around July 19. In attendance was the Chief Justice, Anthony Smellie, Gloria McField-Nixon, Chief Officer of the Portfolio of the Civil Service and Deputy Governor, Franz Manderson.
Reports are that previous reports made to multiple government officials had gone ignored for some time before this emergency meeting. However, it is alleged that external client complaints from local law firms started to mount as well. Sources stated that it was at this point that the matter was taken seriously. One person noted:
“She is a big bully, Several persons have left the department because of her bullying and there have been numerous complaints filed from lawyers in larger firms. Now it appears that someone is willing to take the matter seriously and do something about it.”
During the emergency meeting staff were informed that an investigation would be carried out by the internal audit department and should be completed by September 1, 2019.
Staff members were encouraged to come forward and report any incidents that they may have been a party to or witnessed. They were also encouraged to provide any information that may assist in the investigation. Three days later they were asked to fill out a questionnaire.
Now that the investigation has been completed a senior court member will be out of the office for several weeks. The staff has been told to have no contact with that individual.
Despite staff stating that they believed the person has been placed on suspension; there is no official confirmation of this. Our sources indicate that both staff members were on leave and had no access to emails etc. whilst the investigation was being carried out. Sources close to the matter within the judiciary indicate the person was on their annual leave. Oddly, the annual leave appears to have been cut short by at least two weeks.
Another complaint, involving one of the two senior staff members alleges that she purposely interfered with a court order instructing a person to pay back a debt.
The source informed CMR that the client had received a default judgment. The matter then went to court where the defendant was instructed to pay back the money on an agreed-upon payment plan. However, the senior court staff member instructed the Treasury Department to stop payment until further notice.
The source further shared that when the matter was taken back to court the judge appeared confused as to why the matter was back before him.
A complaint was lodged about this and the complainant indicated their intention to go to the Anti Corruption Commission. The person shared:
“It's unbelievable that a court staff member could override a decision of the court with no proper due process. If this level of interference is occurring because administrators are friends with defendants, what more can we expect?”
That staff member who was also the subject of the bullying allegation is said to be out of the office until September 18th with another staff member acting in their position until that point. On August 30, an email was sent to all court staff, judges and magistrates informing them of her absence from office.
CMR made contact with Deputy Governor Franz Manderson and he confirmed “an active review of HR concerns” at the Judicial Administration.
He further shared that:
“The management and staff of the organisation are fully cooperating with the review which is still underway. This is as much information as will be released, as it is not our practice to release detailed information on internal HR matters, and in particular not to do so whilst a review is ongoing.”Franz Manderson