Tom Tavares-Finson and Valerie Neita-Robertson were on Thursday admitted to the Inner Bar in a packed ceremony at the Supreme Court, which saw the attendance of Prime Minister Andrew Holness and other members of his government.
The ceremony was also attended by a number of eminent members of the legal fraternity including retired president of the Court of Appeal Seymour Panton.
The occasion, which was presided over by Chief Justice Zaila McCalla saw the setting out of chairs and a monitor in the hallway to accommodate the overspill from the packed Number 1 Courtroom.
Queen’s Counsel Frank Phipps proposed Tavares-Finson and Neita-Robertson was proposed by her cousin K Churchill Neita, QC. Both counsel were robed and invited by McCalla to take their seats at the Inner Bar.
Both attorneys were spoken of in glowing terms by their colleagues.
The lawyers were emotional in their replies as they thanked colleagues, judges and their families who had a hand in their successes over the years.
“I was extremely lucky to have the guidance of the judges I appeared before,” Tavares-Finson said.
He made special mention of Ian Ramsay, QC; Frank Phipps, QC; Tony and Winston Spaulding, QC; Churchill Neita, QC; KD Knight, QC; Norma Linton, QC, Jacqueline Samuels-Brown, QC; George Soutar, QC; and CJ Mitchell as people who had a hand in his success.
Neita-Robertson thanked her four sons for their “support and love” as she broke down.
Chief Justice McCalla commended them on their high appointment and implored them to continue being an example to junior counsel.
Neita-Robertson, who has been practicing law for 39 years, is a noted criminal defence attorney who has appeared in numerous high-profile cases over the decades.
She has represented the likes of Vybz Kartel and imprisoned Matthews Lane don Donald ‘Zeeks’ Phipps. She has been a favourite for police officers in legal trouble, and is one of the lawyers currently representing the Jamaica Constabulary Force in the Tivoli Enquiry.
Tavares-Finson, who was called to the Jamaican bar in 1982, has also featured in a number of high-profile cases including the murder case of Vybz Kartel, in 2014, being the lead attorney for the entertainer. He was also the lawyer for Tivoli Gardens don Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke.
Tavares-Finson was also on the defence team of Dudus’ father Lester Lloyd Coke in the 1980s. The senior lawyer is also the president of the Senate of Parliament and is the JLP’s representative on the Electoral Commission of Jamaica, ECJ.
He’s a past student of Jamaica College, McMaster University in Canada, the University of London and the Honorable Society of the Middle Temple in the UK.