Halsbury Chambers founder and Managing Partner Branville McCartney has been selected as one of two Bahamian attorneys to address an international meeting of lawyers and judges when the National Bar Association (NBA) holds its mid-winter conference in Nassau this week.
The Washington, D.C.-based NBA, the oldest and largest association of African-American attorneys and judges with some 20,000 members, named McCartney to speak on the history and the pros and cons of the Privy Council.
“It’s a fascinating topic, both in practice and in theory even to these attorneys and judges, most of whom are coming in from North America,” said McCartney, founder of the firm known for its annual free legal clinics and community involvement. “The Privy Council has been our highest court of appeal since the original act was passed nearly 200 years ago. There are those who argue that it is a relic of colonial days and others who make just as persuasive an argument that it provides objectivity and perspective.”
Discussion about the Privy Council heated up in the region in the 1990s when the Council ruled in one case that protracted stays of more than five years on death row constituted cruel and inhumane punishment. Sentences of several murderers had to be commuted, including one in The Bahamas and another in the region involving a serial killer. Those who oppose the Privy Council accused it of being soft on serious crime, especially murder. Others argued it was out of touch with the reality of crime in the islands. But there are many legal professionals who believe it provides distance, balance and wisdom.
“If The Bahamas decides it no longer wishes to invoke the right of appeal to the Privy Council, we will have two choices — to remodel and strengthen our own Court of Appeal or to join Barbados and Guyana as members of the Caribbean Court of Justice,” said McCartney.
McCartney, who said he will present all sides citing court cases and legal precedent, will speak during the afternoon session February 14 at the Sheraton Nassau Beach Resort. This year’s meeting is being held under the theme of “A Legacy of Service, A Promise of Justice” and runs through February 17.
Diane Phillips and Associates