American-trained Attorney-at-Law Jerry Edwin is calling for his colleague and longstanding Barrister-at-Law Anselm Clouden to be elevated to the ranks of Queens Counsel (QC), following his victory at the end of a trial last week Friday, which saw accused Vice Principal Devon Francique acquitted in a 7-2 majority, of Rape against a male minor, an offence, which carried a maximum penalty of 30 years imprisonment.
The title of QC is presently held by five lawyers – former Governor General Sir Daniel Williams, Celia Clyne-Edwards, the first female lawyer to be appointed in 2003, Dr. Francis Alexis in 2008, Cosmo St. Bernard and Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Christopher Nelson, who in 2015 became the youngest lawyer to be appointed QC in Grenada.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with THE NEW TODAY on Sunday, Attorney Edwin expressed the view that Clouden, who has practiced at the local bar for more than 30 years, is more than deserving of the prestigious title.
“When a person deserves something you’re supposed to give it to them before they go to heaven because (it is) after they go to heaven, everybody comes out and says this person was this or that. I watched Mr. Anselm Clouden handle the alleged rape case of the little boy and many of us in the criminal bar would not have gone to trial on this case (but) Mr. Clouden fought for his client in a way that should really raise the chest of members of the criminal defense bar here in Grenada and across the region and the wider Caribbean because the police charged a man for a crime, one of the most heinous crimes, sex with a male minor (and) in the face of exculpatory evidence which they should have known and should have discovered in their investigation, Clouden decided to go to trial,” Edwin said.
Edwin went on: “When the victim was testifying you could have seen the body language on the four (4) males as they shuddered when he, under direct testimony talked about what allegedly happened to him but somehow Mr. Clouden at cross examination and he had the most gentle cross examination that I’ve seen in many sexual crimes here in Grenada and I wanted to know where is the rabbit that Clouden was going to pull out of his hat to win this case because the direct evidence was so compelling by this mild-spoken, brave young man. His mother when she took the stand you could see too that she was almost about to fall off the witness stand and you could see the sympathy of the five (5) women on the jury for her pain but what we did not know was what Anselm Clouden knew,” said the attorney who witnessed the victim’s testimony.
“He looked at the facts and he saw that it would have been impossible for this dastardly act to occur in the middle of the afternoon of a crowded school in a classroom right next to other classrooms and teachers who took the stand did not just support Clouden’s version of the case and what actually occurred but they actually threw water and doused the flame off the really shaky and unacceptable investigation technique that were carried out in this case and unfortunately we continue to see it over and over and over again,” he said.
Attorney Edwin pointed out that “he (Clouden) did not weave this out of old cloth but out of his tremendous experience…persons normally see Clouden through the prism of his pro-marijuana positions or the stance he takes for persons who society deem just despicable but like the old saying goes everyone hates a lawyer until you need one.”
He also expressed concerns about “the investigation techniques of our policemen in these cases of a sexual nature and murder”.
“We need to tell the police do your job properly, carry out proper investigations (and) don’t hide behind the frock of limited resources, do your job because if Clouden could read the statements of teachers who are saying that they are next door and they didn’t even hear the boy cry out, they saw the boy the next day or the next afternoon and he showed no change in behaviour…the police could have asked the same questions and save the state and the court the tremendous expenses trying a man for a crime where he faced 30 years in jail,” the American-trained attorney declared.
Edwin said that Clouden should be “applauded for standing against the grain” in the just-ended Devon Francique case.
“As you know the accused person has had his reputation already tarnished (and) that the jury has vindicated him is an applause not just to the men and women that sat on the jury and were able to see through the facts but also to the courage of his counsel Mr. Clouden who decided that running against the grain of public opinion and the indictment of this horrendous alleged crime was worthy in pursuit of justice. It was a worthy cause.
“The point I am making is that many, many other lawyers in this jurisdiction would have hesitated to defend this man but time and time again we see from Anselm Clouden a stunning brilliance of criminal defense advocacy and the courage to say let the good citizens of Grenada judge the facts of the cases because the police in many ways are falling down on the job.
“And it seems to me that it is not enough that a jury acquits but the society as a whole raises Clouden up to the highest level of a claim that we give in this jurisdiction, that of Queens Counsel…whoever hands out this designation needs to give it to someone who deserves it like the other persons who have such a claim – Celia Edwards, Cosmo St. Bernard, Francis Alexis, Christopher Nelson – they deserved it and so too does Anselm Clouden.
“Whether you like his position on issue ‘x’ or issue ‘y’ the man’s work over three (3) decades speaks for itself and the authority who hands down these awards needs to step up and be objective whether you think he supports this political organisation or that one.