Case against attorney for contempt goes before the court

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Updated: July 6, 2015

In late May attorney Audrey Matura Shepherd was charged with contempt of court.  Matura is the attorney for the grassroots organization, BYGEA in their fight against the Government of Belize, specifically the Ministry of Natural Resources.  Both parties agreed to go to mediation, a confidential process, however Matura Shepherd was cited for comments she made to the press during the process. Today the matter went before the court as attorney Godfrey Smith explained.

SC Godfrey Smith

“An application has been brought to visit the client Audrey Matura Shepherd with the sanction of costs. The allegation is that she breached rules of the Supreme Court which requires confidentiality in mediation proceedings. The argument was about a simple point which is that provision of the rules. They have argued that Mrs. Shepherd breached the confidentiality rules; we have argued that she certainly has not because the confidentiality rules apply only to where you make disclosures of things that happen in the mediation in other court proceedings so that disclosures to the media for instance do not attract the strict and technical prohibition set out in the act and really that’s what the act was about. The judge has reserved his decision on that and we’ll get it sometime in the future.”

Reporter

“So are they arguing that what she said or may have said affecting in some way the body of the mediation case?

SC Godfrey Smith

“No that wasn’t the argument. The argument was simply that, look under the mediation rules of the Supreme Court you are not supposed to disclose anything, we are saying that that is not a full interpretation, that the rules say that you are not supposed to disclose confidential information in any other proceedings. We say any other proceedings refer to court proceedings, legal proceedings. They argued for a broader interpretation of what proceeding meant. The judge has reserved his decision on it.

Reporter

“And if the judge finds that she did indeed do what they are saying she did what kind of fines could she attract?”

SC Godfrey Smith

“They are asking for costs of the mediation proceedings.”