Former talk show host Ricardo “Gladiator” Welch is facing contempt of court proceedings over publishing controversial statements against judges on his Facebook page.
The proceedings were filed by attorneys Daniel Solomon and Nalini Balwant after Welch made the statements, earlier this year, following a procedural decision in a multi-million dollar lawsuit against them.
In that lawsuit, Welch is suing Solomon, Balwant and their law firm, Daniel Solomon & Associates, for breach of contract and professional negligence.
The claim centres around the legal representation Welch received after retaining the attorneys to represent him in a series of lawsuits against two radio stations, where he had worked in the past.
The lawyers now contend that Welch’s statements were intended to embarrass certain judges and to bring the Judiciary into disrepute.
Welch began making the statements in March after High Court Judge David Harris refused to grant a default judgment over the failure of the legal team representing the lawyers to meet a deadline for the filing of their witness statements.
While Harris agreed that the attorneys were informed of the deadline in an email sent by his support staff, he suggested that their failure to meet it was not intentional.
Harris granted the attorneys an extension of time to do so.
Harris has since recused himself from the case, which has been reassigned to Justice Nadia Kangaloo.
Welch appealed the decision and while the appeal was pending, the attorneys filed a motion for contempt.
The attorneys also successfully obtained a stay of the appeal pending the determination of the contempt proceedings.
Welch, who is now representing himself, has filed an application to strike out the contempt proceedings.
Although the lawyers have offered to withdraw the application, if Welch apologies, he has repeatedly refused to do so as he denies any wrongdoing.
Welch is alleging that the statements were factual and are the basis of a pending complaint to the Judicial and Legal Service Commission (JLSC).
On Monday, Appellate Judges Judith Jones and Peter Rajkumar gave separate reasons for granting the stay.
“The application is not to prevent this court from hearing the appeal or to undermine the appeal but rather simply to delay the hearing until a contempt application arising as a result of statements concerning the decision under appeal and made during the pendency of the appeal has been determined,” Jones said.
Rajkumar agreed as he pointed out that the contempt application took precedence in the circumstances.
“This court, therefore, declines to embark upon the hearing of the procedural appeal which arises directly from the matters which are complained of in the Facebook post and which are directly the subject of the application for contempt,” Rajkumar said.
While they stated that the attorneys’ application raised a prima facie case of contempt, both judges repeatedly stated that they could not make a ruling on that issue.
“While we make no finding on whether a contempt has actually been demonstrated, recognising fully that this is a matter for determination before the High Court, it is clear as a matter of logic that the possibility exists for a finding either that the appellant would be exonerated or that the appellant may be found guilty of contempt,” Rajkumar said.
A date for the hearing of the contempt proceedings is yet to be set by Kangaloo.
Source: www.guardian.co.tt (Derek Achong)