The legal fraternity in Grenada was thrown into mourning on Sunday as early morning news surrounding the death of long-standing magistrate Karen Noel hit the streets.
According to information reaching the Grenada Informer, Noel who presided over matters at the St David’s and Sauteurs Magistrate Courts died suddenly at her home in Archibald Avenue St George’s after a brief period of illness.
With almost two decades of service on the bench, Noel who was called to the bar in 1995 has had a distinguished career as a magistrate presiding over several matters at the magisterial level including the much-publicized Oscar Bartholomew murder trial involving a Grenada-born Canadian citizen who died while in police custody.
Former magistrate and colleague Jerry Seales described Mrs Noel as an extremely humble competent senior magistrate who has given years of service to the magistracy in Grenada in almost every jurisdiction. He noted that her expertise developed over the years and having worked with the magistrate for several years, her death would be a tremendous loss for Grenada at this time.
Seales said during his tenure on the bench he has had an excellent working relationship with Mrs Noel. Her loss he said would be a blow for the magistracy, in Grenada considering that experience like that possessed by Ms Noel, takes years to acquire and therefore replacing someone with that level of experience would take some doing.
As the nation grapples with the news and unanswered questions as it relates to the cause of death some organizations and individuals weighed in, commenting and extending sympathy to the Noel family and members of the legal profession wherein she devoted most of her time.
Among those commenting was President of Organisation of Commonwealth Caribbean Bar Association (OCCBA) Ruggles Ferguson. In a release from the organization, it described Magistrate Noel as humble and simple, always wearing a calm disposition and never displaying the level of arrogance that sometimes accompanies the power that comes with the office. He described the magistrate as a good listener who treats attorneys and others that appear before her with respect, rendering her decision fairly and dispassionately in keeping with the interpretation of the law.
Senior defence lawyer Anselm Clouden also weighed in, noting that Magistrate Noel was fair in her judgments and understood the plight of the poor, her presence on the bench he said would be surely missed.
Meanwhile, in a release, Legal Affairs Minister, Hon. Kendra Mathurine Stewart said Grenada has lost a beautiful, honest, humble and outstanding lady and magistrate. It went on, “May her legacy of self-sacrifice, integrity, gentleness, fairness and service impact all our lives in a positive way.”
The Legal Affairs Minister took the opportunity to extend sympathy to the Noel family and members of the legal profession and the church who would be most impacted by the death of Magistrate Noel.