The Suzie I Knew

Precise dates hardly matter. What does matter is that Suzie d’Auvergne’s law chambers were always open to me, whether in her time as a regular lawyer or as Director of Public Prosecution (she was the first female to hold that office).

Justice Suzie d’Auvergne passed away this week after a short illness.

Justice Suzie d’Auvergne passed away this week after a short illness.

I never visited her at home; never knew where she lived. And of course, recluse that I am, she had no idea where I hid myself when not at my office. But I dare to say we were close; shared confidences and lots of “inside” jokes. I especially loved to tease her about how she had somehow escaped the bonds of marriage!

Very early in what I might refer to as “our special relationship” I discovered Suzie (that’s how I always addressed her in private) had a fine sense of the absurd. I was struck by her uncommon courage, her eagerness to go where most Saint Lucian men, let alone women, feared to tread. To further abuse the cliché, she called it as she saw it—in and out of court!

At a time when it was considered impolite and déclassé to utter the proper names of certain body parts, when witnesses and even police officers spoke of “cackalacs” and “cockolocs,” the DPP Suzie d’Auvergne, while summing up at the end of a rape trial involving a somewhat retarded young girl and her caretaker—a police officer—addressed the judge as follows: “What we have here is a case of gun in hand, penis in vagina!”

I was widely criticized for reproducing precisely as she had delivered it the DPP’s statement in the STAR. And I mean criticized a whole lot more harshly than was the rapist (who, by the way, was sentenced to several years in prison!) What makes this story especially memorable, for me, was the demonstrated boldness of DPP d’Auvergne when, so to speak, she chose to call a penis a penis.

And then there was my sub-title: “Suzie Gets Her Man!”  I was playing with the well-known (outside Saint Lucia) Royal Canadian Mounted Police motto: “The Mounties Always Get Their Man!” I had only been back a few months, after years in the U.S., and had not anticipated the hypocritical furor.

Suzie got the joke, of course. She also let me know about several local savants who had advised her to sue me for implying . . . but then I need not go into the absolutely absurd reasons they offered the DPP, soon to be a supreme court judge.  At any rate, not at this time.

I will miss Suzie’s hugs, her whispers in my ear that she was praying for me. (I suspect she prayed for a lot of other people . . . but that’s for another show!) Never mind that her close relative and my once upon a time friend Ausbert and I had on occasion crossed swords, that was never Suzie’s business. We never talked about that.

I will miss calling her for an opinion or for a hint where to look up a particular point. In the same way I miss Sir Vincent. But more on all of that at a later date.

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