It was with shock and sadness that on the morning of the 24th day of June 2020 members of the legal profession in the Commonwealth of Dominica received the news of the passing of Mr. Michael “Mikey”
Emanuel Bruney, a fellow attorney, a court-appointed Mediator, a Magistrate, a colleague, a radio broadcaster and media personality, a script writer and a friend, among many other things. This news came so soon after we learned of Michael Bruney’s lung cancer diagnosis that it caught all of us totally off guard. Moreover, it came at a time when the legal fraternity is still dealing with the loss of Ms. Sandra Julien, who died very recently, and of Mr. Kevin Williams, who died just 5 months ago.
Michael Bruney, or “Mikey” as he was commonly known and referred to, was called to the Dominica Bar on the 21 st day of October 1988. On the very day of his admission to the Dominica Bar, Mikey, a public officer since October 1976, was appointed to the position of State Attorney.
Mikey served as State Attorney for one year before he took up the position of Registrar (Temporary) in November 1989. After a period of about 13 months, on the 1st day of January 1991, he was appointed to the position of Registrar, Registrar-General and Provost Marshall. After serving for two years as Registrar-General, Mikey left the Public Service and entered into private legal practice.
Michael Bruney had an active private legal practice from 1993 until his death. Most will recall that for the past several years he operated from his office on Virgin Lane, Roseau. In 2004, he became a court-appointed Mediator in the High Court of Justice. Notwithstanding his engaging private practice, Mikey remained committed to public service and it was that commitment that led to his service as a Magistrate on periodic contracts with the Government of Dominica from the year 2011 to present. Mikey’s professional skill and expertise was recognized not only in Dominica but also in the OECS and wider region. As a result, he contributed to the 2000 Civil Procedure Rules of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court and was recruited by the CCJ to provide expert assistance to the Belize Court of Appeal.
As a legal practitioner, Mikey was sound in his knowledge and analysis of the law. He represented his clients with competence, diligence, integrity, passion and decorum and generally took a very practical approach to resolving issues in dispute. Within the last couple of years, Mikey was involved in at least 3 matters before the Caribbean Court of Justice. His last appearance in the High Court was less than 2 months ago, and the last judgment he received from the High Court, which was in his favour, was delivered on 8th June 2020.
Mikey was very knowledgeable about the operations of the Registries, including the High Court Registries and Titles Registries. He generously shared this expertise with his colleagues and had very recently accepted an offer to assist the Government of Dominica in the set up and operations of the High Court and other registries when their location is moved to the Post Office building.
Mikey held and demonstrated profound respect for the judiciary and judicial officers, whether resident or visiting, active or retired and was always ready to provide counsel on how the administration of justice could be improved in Dominica. Whenever judicial or legal officers or delegations visited Dominica, Mikey would organize one or more outings to show them some of our beautiful, natural sites. In their messages of condolences to his family and the Dominica Bar, the Rt. Hon. Sir Dennis Byron and President Adrian Saunders of the Caribbean Court of Justice both mention, among other things, Mikey’s dependable hospitality during their visits to Dominica.
Many colleagues remember Mikey for his generous and consistent demonstration of kindness to all, but more particularly to the junior lawyers. He was one of the lawyers who made a concerted effort to bridge the gap between the senior and junior members of the Bar. At one time, going for drinks after work with colleagues was one of his regular pastimes. Members of the fraternity regarded Mikey as someone who was easy to speak with, supportive and dependable. He was a reliable source of humor to all. Notwithstanding his great sense of humor, a very remarkable feature about Mikey was the seriousness with which he took his role as a member of our noble profession and an officer of the court. He was a stickler for court etiquette and was very protective of the traditions of the legal profession. Some of his pet peeves included the use of casual language by lawyers to address the court and the actions of persons to bypass or seek to bypass the hierarchical structure within the judicial system or the public service generally. Mikey displayed a strong aversion to these things and would discreetly lament their occurrence.
Mikey encouraged camaraderie, civility and courtesy between and among lawyers and maintained a happy and light atmosphere around himself with his quick witty comments, his voice/ accent impersonations (mimics) and his regular regaling of humorous stories. The glimmer of mischief in his eyes disclosed that he was enjoying his wittiness as much as his audience did.
Magistrate Bruney’s practice on the Bench was to deal with cases as swiftly as possible. He was a down-to-earth and stern magistrate who dispensed justice with fairness and empathy. In civil matters, he regularly encouraged and gave parties the opportunity to speak outside of the courtroom in order to see if they could resolve their disputes between themselves.
Michael Bruney struck a happy balance between his professional and social life. He knew how to have a good time and where to find it. Nothing elaborate. All simple. He built very strong and long-lasting relationships with “ordinary people” within various communities. He was friendly to all and enemy to none. That notwithstanding, he was a very private and unobtrusive individual. He did not like the spotlight and literally shied away from it. If Mikey could have kept the news of his death quiet, he would have put things in place for that.
Michael “Mikey” E. Bruney was an active member of the Dominica Bar Association throughout his legal practice and he served as President of the Association for many years during the early 2000s. At the time of his death, he was an Executive Member of the Association. We, the members of the Executive, will miss Mikey’s expert guidance on proper protocol in the legal profession, his sage and practical suggestions on how the Bar Association could better execute its role in the society, and his ‘incorrigible’ banterings at meetings. One of the projects Mr. Bruney wished the Association to organize and host is a radio programme educating the public on common legal issues affecting society at large. The Executive hopes to bring Mr. Bruney’s vision to fruition in memory of his life and mission.
We, the members of the Dominica Bar Association, are all heartbroken by the passing of Michael “Mikey” Bruney and will miss him tremendously. He was a quiet force in the legal profession and fraternity and his contributions will never be forgotten. The best honor the legal fraternity can give to him is to seek to maintain the traditions of the legal profession which he so valued and encouraged.
We extend heartfelt sympathy to Mikey’s children, siblings, loved ones, extended family, employees, close friends and to all those who have been touched by the vibrant life and devastating death of Mikey. We mourn your loss with you and pray for your comfort and healing with time. Mikey is at peace. His journey on earth is ended, but his spirit continues to live on.
May Michael “Mikey” E. Bruney rest in peace.
Issued: 26th day of June 2020
The Dominica Bar Association