It was an assault on the justice system says KC Delroy Duncan

A prominent Bermuda lawyer has sounded the alarm over an unprecedented display of aggression and disorder outside of Bermuda’s Supreme Court. KC Delroy Duncan called on our leaders to take the necessary steps to prevent what amounted to an assault on the Justice system and what many perceived as a damaging blow to our Democratic norms. Lawyer Duncan was speaking during the formal opening of the 2024 legal year.

I stand today to make remarks on two sad events.


First, I wish to mark the passing of my dear friend and colleague, John Perry KC, who died on 17 December 23. I understand this court is planning a fitting ceremony to pay tribute to one of the finest lawyers of his generation and a man who, over 30 years, contributed an immense and unrivalled body of jurisprudence to this island—a man whose body of work is a testament to the finest traditions of the rule of law.


We all have had a moment when, all of a sudden, we looked around and thought that the world is changing. I am seeing it change. This is the moment when the new Bermuda may have emerged.


Wednesday, January 17, marked a disturbing turning point in this country’s journey as a democracy that seeks to uphold and abide by the rule of law.

Three lawyers were verbally threatened and punched on the steps of this building in broad daylight by members of the public supporting the family of the victim of a heart-wrenching, senseless, and brutal murder. The irony is that the attack occurred on the steps of this building itself, the shrine of this country’s democracy.


I don’t stand here just for the three lawyers who were attacked. I stand here representing every citizen who one day may need the assistance of a lawyer in an unpopular cause. I stand here for every lawyer who, aware of the possibility of being threatened, may think twice or have reservations representing someone charged with a criminal offence. I stand for every law student who, seeing this behaviour, ask themselves, ” Is this a profession I wish to enter? “


What have we come to as a country, a democracy, and a people when lawyers now must accept that as part of the representation of a client, they can expect to be subjected to threats of violence and physical attacks?


For many reasons, some in this country may have a mixed view of lawyers. To some extent, Lawyers may have been their own worst enemies. But this isn’t about any one individual lawyer. And let us not forget that:


Lawyers are one of the essential components in the system by which our constitutional freedoms are protected.

Lawyers play a crucial role in upholding the rule of law.

Lawyers protect their clients’ rights to a fair trial.


But to protect the rights of every citizen, lawyers must be able to practice independently and with freedom, performing all of their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference.


These Basic Principles were established by the United Nations in 1990. The Basic Principles are also included in binding international human rights treaties such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.


My Lord, I hear a wall falling. A sacred wall that has existed since the advent of jury trials on this Island. Do we have the foresight, the confidence, and the moral fortitude to say this is a line we cannot allow our country to cross?


Fear and intimidation cannot reign- Fear and intimidation must not reign.


For the welfare of this community, I ask those who witnessed the events on the steps of this building, and I understand there were many people, including some significant pillars of this community, TO DO THE RIGHT THING and come forward and say what they witnessed and not let this slip by as a Bermuda three-week news story that everyone forgets.


This insidious and corrosive behaviour undermines the freedoms we hold dear. For the welfare of this community, I ask the police and the DPP to pursue the perpetrators of acts of violence against the three lawyers and prosecute them to the hilt because the community needs to know that this incident doesn’t mark another line that has been crossed.


I ask politicians of all political stripes to mark this day and take stock of what this means for Bermuda, locally and internationally. There are countries we all are aware of where prosecutors, lawyers and their families are subject to brutal violence and where the rule of law has broken down.


We all know of events in our criminal justice system where we have said this marks a sad turning point, and we move on, and nothing is done. Let this not be another one of those events lest we fail to recover-


As a community we must remember what you ignore, you encourage, but beware of what you desecrate.

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