Striking lawyers disrupt Appeals Court hearings
12 May 2017
PHILIPSBURG--The ongoing strike of pro-bono lawyers disrupted Wednesday’s and Thursday’s sittings of the Joint Court of Justice in criminal cases.
One of the lawyers on strike, Sjamira Roseburg of Sulvaran and Peterson Law Office confirmed that the strike continues until Government has paid out all fees due to them. “We will continue our strike for as long as we do not receive our payments. This [late payment of invoices - Ed.] needs to stop.”
Roseburg’s absence from Thursday’s sitting of the Joint Court meant that the appeal hearing of her client Felix Crawford had to be cancelled.
In July 2016, the Court of First Instance sentenced Crawford to 20 years imprisonment for a series of crimes committed between December 31, 2010, and October 21, 2015.
In this period of almost four years, he committed a large number of armed burglaries, four thefts with assault and battery, and one case of attempted manslaughter against a police officer. He was also found guilty of illegal firearms possession, and of threatening two persons with a firearm. One of his victims was a 14-year-old boy.
These crimes also included burglaries at the homes of former Chief of Police Peter de Witte and former Minister of Justice Dennis Richardson.
Also in October 2016, the hearing of dispossession claims against Crawford was postponed because Roseburg was among the lawyers on strike for better pay. The claims include at least two claims by victims for damages incurred and a claim by the Prosecutor’s Office for US $16,000 in criminal proceeds.
The strike, organised under the auspices of the Criminal Defence Section of the St. Maarten Bar Association, affected some six appeal cases in total. Pro-bono lawyers called the strike from April 19, as Government has failed to honour an ultimatum set by the lawyers for payment of all fees due to them.
Source: The Daily Herald, St. Maarten