Attorneys divided about harsh letter Bar Association to Merx

POSTED: 12/11/13 6:45 PM

St. Maarten –Not all attorneys agree with the harsh letter the Dean of the Bar Association, Remco Stomp, sent to fellow-attorney Cor Merx. Shaira Bommel told this newspaper yesterday that she does not agree with the highly critical letter. Bommel added that she is no longer on the board of the Bar Association, that she is therefore in no way involved with the letter the Dean sent to Merx, and that the Bar’s secretary is now Cindy Marica.

Stomp criticized Merx in his letter for his comments on a controversy at the police station, where both Merx and Bommel were refused access to their clients on October 14. He asked Merx “to come to his senses” and “to use his wisdom to the benefit of the Bar Association.” The Dean furthermore accuses Merx in the letter of using “unnecessary offensive language” and of “showing disdain for the Bar Association and its board members.”

Merx wrote in an email to this newspaper yesterday that “sending a letter like this to the media is shameful.” And what is more: “After consultation with a several colleagues the decision was taken not to react to this letter, because the result we were after had been achieved.”

That result is according to Merx that Dean Remco Stomp would meet with the Chief Commissioner, the director of the House of Detention, “an affected fellow-attorney,” and the public prosecutor to discuss the recent cases of refusals to attorneys to see their clients at the police station. Merx wrote that this meeting took place last week Monday.

“Documents and protocols have been exchanged and all parties had the opportunity to give their comments. There is nothing undemocratic about that.”

Merx notes that, apparently, he expressed himself “too critically” about the access to his clients. “That may be so, but the result is that there is intensive consultation between parties and that is in the interest of everyone on the island – it is not my personal interest, but it is in the interest of the Bar Association.”

With a reference to this newspaper, Merx adds the following note: “We have two sides on this island. One is critical and receives a Pineapple (the Crystal Pineapple Public Media Award the St. Maarten Hospitality and Trade Association granted to this newspaper – ed.) and the other does not rise above ground level. It depends on the way you look at it. But is should not become personal and that has never been the intention. I have received positive reactions and I will leave it at that.”

The letter from the Bar Association becomes even more incomprehensible after reading the email-correspondence Dean Remco Stomp refers to in his letter. This newspaper obtained copies of at least part of this correspondence yesterday.

From it we understand that there is a plan to establish, next to the Bar Association, a League of Criminal Attorneys. In an email he sent to around twenty colleagues, Merx notes that he is fond of the word League: “It expresses something special and it creates ties.” He also expresses his readiness to offer guidance to young colleagues.

In an email dated December 1, 2013, Merx addresses the refusal to give him and other attorneys access to their clients at the police station. He notes that, indeed, Shaira Bommel “fully agrees” with him.

The email continues with this statement: Look, for all clarity: I am going to be 65 and I have nothing to lose anymore. I do not need stripes, or stars or chevrons anymore. I am standing up for the generation behind me and I am prepared to give everything for it. If that is going to cost me my presence on the tableau then I will go underground again or I will attempt to find a place elsewhere, but this has to stop.”

Remarkably, Stomp refers in his letter to Merx to this paragraph as “distressing expressions of indifference” and accuses Merx of ignoring and doing an injustice to members of the Bar Association.”

Merx refers to the October 14 incident at the police station with the following remark: “I stand on my rights says he who violates those rights” (Bloeiman to Shaira (Bommel – ed.) when new rules were introduced and Wallis/Levingstone to me when they pushed me away from the door). Amusing, isn’t it?”

Merx – understandably – fumes in his email about the new rules at the police station no attorney ever saw. “Have they been announced to us? Does the Minister of Justice know about this? Was this necessary?”

The attorney furthermore relates a new incident whereby he was given the runaround at the police station. “That makes you puke right? Because I saw red at that moment I was calmed down by John (a nice fellow), but I was ready to tear the place down.”

The email is an apparent answer to a sweet-toned letter sent by the Bar Association. “No letters with humbleness or Salonfähigkeiten. We are entitled to unconditional access to our clients and also to a separate room that has been promised to us for three years. We will not do any concessions other than putting the cat among the pigeons.”

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