After being labelled childish by Prison Commission of Inquiry (CoI) Chairman, Justice James Patterson, Guyana Bar Association (GBA) President Christopher Ram has finally responded, explaining his Association’s reason for withdrawing from the Inquiry, which is seeking to determine what led to the deadly prison riot on March 3.Last month, Justice Patterson scolded Ram, who had stormed out of the CoI, withdrawing the group’s participation from the investigation. Patterson had said Ram’s behaviour was childish.At the time, Ram was of the view that some lawyers at the CoI were being sidelined, and more ‘privileges’ were being given to the Guyana Prison Service’s and Guyana Fire Service’s legal representatives.In his response on Thursday, Ram said the Bar Association could not be allowed to be “perceived as compromised or complicit in an exercise that paid little regard to basic standards of procedure and fairness in this matter”.He said the Chairman, the only legal person on the Commission, could not escape responsibility for the shortcomings that did a disservice to those who died or were injured or otherwise affected by the events of March 3.Ram said the statement issued by Patterson, two days after he walked out of the CoI, failed to address the issues at hand, but rather was replete with personal attacks and invective.“Since I only read about the statement in the press, I wrote to the Chairman on April 26 asking for a copy of the statement and for him to indicate to me from the detailed transcripts of the proceedings the instances where my conduct fell short of professional standards. So far, Mr Patterson has failed to respond to my request. Without engaging in any ad hominem accusations, I wish to clarify the position of the Guyana Bar Association on the decision to cease participation in the Commission,” Ram said.He posited that after observing a number of weaknesses in the proceedings of the Commission days after it began taking evidence, the Bar Association on March 11, 2016 applied for and received standing from the Commission to appear before it. Some of the weaknesses, he said, were commencing public hearings without any adequate preparation, including placement of advertisements inviting witnesses; the absence of basic information gathering; the absence of Rules of Conduct; the non-appointment of a Commission Counsel; the selection of witnesses, and the conflicts of interest among Commissioners.“In an effort to assist the Commission, the Bar Association soon thereafter provided the Commission with a copy of the Rules of the Walter Rodney Commission of Inquiry and other literature and authorities on Commissions of Inquiry, including the role and authority of the Chairman in a Commission of Inquiry.”Ram said the Counsel for the Bar Association and inmates had expressed their dissatisfaction repeatedly, but out of public duty and an obligation to contribute to the search for the truth, continued its participation in the Inquiry. The situation became entirely intolerable when a key witness, the Senior Superintendent of Prisons was being examined by opposing Counsel, he added.The Bar Association President said as a result, following consultations with Glenn Hanoman who regularly appeared at the hearings on behalf of the Association, and with other Attorneys at the Commission, it was agreed that the Association’s continued participation in the Inquiry only served to give legitimacy to a seriously flawed process.Attorneys were particularly struck by the repeated and ill-informed comment of one Commissioner that the Commission was not a court of law and the insistence for procedural proprieties was time-consuming, unproductive and unnecessary. On the other hand, it was becoming increasingly apparent that the Commission was more concerned about an artificially imposed deadline rather than a genuine pursuit of its Terms of Reference.“It is my contention that any Commission of Inquiry, and certainly one investigating the worst prison deaths in the history of any Commonwealth country, cannot be fettered in its search for the truth. Truth is often hidden and its discovery takes painstaking examination. Unless there is clear evidence of irrelevance, obstructionism or time wasting, Commissioners ought to carry out their duties diligently and fairly to all the parties with not even a semblance of injudiciousness, arbitrariness, capriciousness or ignorance of the relevant rules.“The Attorneys representing the Bar Association did not take the decision to withdraw lightly and we remain committed to the cause of justice in this matter. We could not, however, allow the Bar Association to be perceived as compromised or complicit in an exercise that paid little regard to basic standards of procedure and fairness in this matter,” Ram said.
Junior Railers HC director of hockey operations Bobby Butler with his wife, Lisa, and their children, Beckham, 2, Vivienne, 5 weeks, and Vincent, 4, at the Fidelity Bank Worcester Ice Center. Photo/submittedWorcester – Former Olympian Bobby Butler of Marlborough, a 10-year professional who played for four NHL teams, will officially become the first director of hockey operations for the Junior Railers Hockey Club.“I am very excited for this opportunity. Hockey has given me so much and I am looking forward to help grow the game in Central Mass.,” Butler said.In his new role, Butler will be responsible for the direction, administration, management, supervision and marketing of all Junior Railers programs.Last year, the Junior Railers had nearly 600 boys and girls on over 50 teams from mosquitoes (5-year-olds) through midgets (18-year-olds), competing at all levels (instructional, house, travel, select, elite).Registration for the 2019-20 season is ongoing at www.juniorrailers.com.“I was drawn to the setup of the Junior Railers,” Butler said. “I love how there are teams for all level of players. My young kids have started to learn the game and for them to be able to be a part of the same organization no matter their skill level, will allow them to develop and grow as people and players all while calling themselves a Railer!”The Junior Railers HC has grown significantly over the last five years and two seasons ago began playing at the Fidelity Bank Worcester Ice Center. The Junior Railers also play at Holy Cross, the DCU Center, Horgan Rink in Auburn and Buffone Rink in Worcester, as well as other Central Mass. rinks.“We welcome Bobby to our team,” said Matt Wojnarowicz, president of the Junior Railers’ nine-member executive board, which conducted a national search to fill the position. “We look forward to working with him for years to come.”Wojnarowicz expects Butler to further the organization’s growth and continue the positive momentum.“People know Bobby as the Olympian, college star and NHL player, but we were just as impressed by him as a person,” he said. “He’s a true professional on and off the ice and we are excited for him to get to work with our players, coaches and parents.”A former Hobey Baker Award finalist at the University of New Hampshire, Butler was a member of the United States Olympic team that competed in South Korea in 2018. He also helped Team USA win a bronze medal at the World Championships in 2013.As a pro, he played for the Ottawa Senators from 2010-12, the New Jersey Devils from 2012-13, the Nashville Predators in 2013 and the Florida Panthers from 2013-15.He played the past two seasons in the AHL with the Hartford Wolfpack and Milwaukee Admirals. Prior to that, he played in the Kontinental Hockey League and Swedish Elite League.A three-time AHL All-Star and former All-Star Classic MVP, Butler was named the league’s Player of the Week and Rookie of the Month, set records for most playoff goals and points by a rookie, and helped Binghamton win the 2011 Calder Cup.At the University of New Hampshire, Butler was named a first-team All-American, Walter Brown Award winner, Hockey East Player of the Year and a Hobey Baker Award finalist after totaling 29 goals and 24 assists and 53 points in just 39 games in 2010.He graduated from UNH in 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in health and human services, health management and policy.A 2005 Marlborough High graduate, Butler led the Panthers, coached by his father, to the Division 3 state championship as a senior.Off the ice, Butler has run his own hockey camps and clinics, and most recently served as director of player development for the Boston Junior Bruins where he played from 2002-06.