The arraignment of former Urban Renewal Deputy Director Michelle Reckley and three other people was adjourned to noon today because their court dockets were “not properly constructed”, as no witnesses were listed, the prosecutor in the matter admitted yesterday.
They were escorted from court after 6 p.m. to the Cable Beach Police Station to spend the night.
Reckley, Kylon Vincent, Stephanie Collie and Christopher Symonette all appeared before Chief Magistrate Joyann Ferguson-Pratt shortly after 5 p.m.
Reckley, Vincent and Collie were arrested around 7 a.m. on Grand Bahama and flown to New Providence, Wayne Munroe, QC, said.
Symonette said he was arrested at his home on New Providence.
Dozens of Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) supporters gathered inside the court, including former Prime Minister Perry Christie and his wife, Bernadette.
When the matter began, police prosecutor ASP Barry Miller told Ferguson-Pratt that he didn’t have the dockets.
Munroe, who appeared on behalf of Symonette, said the prosecutor was wise not to continue without any witnesses being listed on the dockets.
“Grand Bahama was disrespected,” Munroe said, referring to Reckley’s attorney on the island.
“His client was whisked out the back door at CDU while he was in the foyer. He represents Michelle Reckley. While we do stand in the gap… this is not a promising start.”
Ferguson-Pratt then asked the prosecutor: “On what basis is this before the court when no witness is listed?”
Miller said, “I inquired. The only thing I can say is that these people cannot technically be before this court.”
Munroe noted that his client, Symonette, has been meeting with police, at their request, for the last two months.
Munroe said, “These persons are not charged with violence or harming public peace, and it is wholly unacceptable that this is being done in this fashion.”
Ferguson-Pratt asked the prosecutor, “Mr. Prosecutor, there is no complainant named so the defendants are not properly before this court. What is the Crown’s position?
Miller said the dockets were “not properly constructed” and requested that “we stand it over until tomorrow morning”.
Damian Gomez, QC, who appeared on behalf of Reckley, Vincent and Collie, said his clients were arrested at 7 a.m.
Ferguson-Pratt asked if they had eaten. They said that they had not.
Reckley told Ferguson-Pratt that, “They came into my bedroom, and she told me to put something on and let’s go.”
Gomez said, “This lady is the wife of an assistant commissioner of police.”
Ferguson-Pratt replied, “Are you serious?”
She added, “Why haven’t they had meals?”
A police officer in court said that this was news to him and that he would investigate.
“I will like to know before I rise,” the chief magistrate said. With that the officer scurried out of court.
When he returned, he gave the prosecutor several documents.
According to the detention records, all four were given meals while in custody.
But each said that they were not offered food.
Regarding Reckley, Miller said the detention record reflected that she was fed.
“They have her listed as ‘he’,” Miller noted. “It says, ‘He is well’.”
At that the courtroom erupted into laughter.
“What is the violence… on them being asked to return at a time agreed upon tomorrow” Ferguson-Pratt asked Miller.
He said he would have to check. At that, court took a break at 5:40 p.m.
When court resumed at 6:01 p.m., Miller said he contacted his superior and, “since we don’t have the dockets”, the matter should be “stood over until noon tomorrow and the people in custody be housed at the Cable Beach Police Station”.
Ferguson-Pratt asked that the four in custody be fed and afforded basic human rights. She noted that the documents before her also listed two additional people, James Hall and James Wildgoose. They were not in court.
Anthony McKinney, QC, Munroe, Jomo Campbell and Owen Wells appeared on behalf of Symonette.
Gomez, Philip “Fish” McKenzie, Devard Francis and Renaldo Toote appeared on behalf of Reckley, Vincent and Collie.
Outside court, the four were put into police cars and whisked away.
Christie told The Guardian that he was shocked by the matter.
“If you had told me that I would witness what I did this afternoon as a part of our justice system, I would have vigorously denied and protested that we are not like that,” Christie said.
“But I have to come in here and see what is the most extraordinary set of circumstances of the ill-prepared and, quite frankly, I am absolutely shocked.”
Education: College of The Bahamas, English