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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center

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Solomon Islands Lawyers Warned Over Court Conduct
Lawyer in case set for Monday apparently on ‘extended’ leave

By Assumpta Buchanan

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Feb. 13, 2013) – A High Court judge in the Solomon Islands has warned that there will be consequences for the conduct of some lawyers who are not turning up in court.

Justice Stephen Pallaras expressed this concern on Monday when a matter came before the High Court for mention.

The matter has been previously listed for trial commencing on Monday.

A request has been made by the Public Solicitor’s Office to have the trial vacated as the lawyer representing the accused has extended his leave.

Justice Pallaras told Public Solicitor Allen Hou that an order he gave for the defense to file the agreed facts and list of witnesses was ignored twice.

He said the case came before the court on a number of appearances last year and this year different solicitors are appearing on behalf of the lawyer representing the accused.

Justice Pallaras however said the lawyer extended his leave to the full knowledge that the trial should start on Monday.

He added that the case has been in the system for two years and said the lawyer failed his duty to the court, his client and the community.

"The lawyer did not have the courtesy to inform court he will be elsewhere today (Monday)."

He said the lawyers are being paid for with public money and the public expects the money to be spent wisely.

The judge said this type of conduct will not go unattended and will be seen as contempt of court.

"Someone has to play the music."

He said he expects an apology in writing and will refer the matter back to the case listing committee.

"The accused is the one who suffered the most," Justice Pallaras told Mr. Hou.

The accused, Steven Ketei faces one count of murder following the death of a Temotu man whose body was found next to the Panatina field, East Honiara in 2010.

Mr. Hou, who appeared in court on Monday, informed the court that the particular lawyer has extended his leave to see his sick mum.

He apologized and added that he was not aware of the matter as he does not do many criminal cases but picks up cases that are delayed by the lawyers.

He said he is willing to take up the case if another hearing date is fixed.

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