Focus will be on Chief Justice Ivor Archie today when he opens the 2017/2018 Law Term amidst calls by senior legal practitioner for a boycott of the event.
Archie, who has been called on to resign as Chief Justice, following the imbroglio of the resignation of former chief magistrate Marcia Ayers-Caesar and who has adamantly said he will not be doing so, is expected to address the criticisms levelled against him and the Judicial and Legal Services Commission (JLSC) of which he is chairman.
Questions have been raised on the JLSC’s ability to make appointments since the resignation of two members, retired judges Roger Hamel-Smith and Humphrey Stollmeyer in June, particularly the appointment of seven new Masters to the Family Court.
There has been no announcement of replacements for either Hamel-Smith or Stollmeyer.
Today’s ceremonial opening will begin with an inter-faith service at the Holy Trinity Cathedral, Hart Street, from 10 am. Chief Justice Archie will then lead a short procession of judicial officers, lawyers and other dignitaries to the Hall of Justice on Knox Street.
Archie will inspect the Guard of Honour by the Police Service before making his way to Convocation Hall, where he will deliver his annual address and declare the new law term open. Rumours are also rife that in addition to leading members of the inner bar, several judges may also not attend today’s opening.
Ayers-Caesar’s abrupt resignation in April, which in a lawsuit against the JLSC she has denied, left some 53 cases in limbo. While some of these preliminary inquires have restarted, others are still in doubt. There has been no official word from Director of Public Prosecutions Roger Gaspard on what action he will take on some of these cases, which includes decade-long murder inquiries.
Gaspard in May called for a definitive statement on the status of Ayers-Caesar, saying he could not exercise his powers unless he is officially told whether the former chief magistrate resigned.
Government has announced a decision to file an Interpretation Summons to have the court pronounce on the matter and sources say this is expected to be completed this week for filing.
At a meeting between Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar in mid-July, Persad-Bissessar rejected the proposal by the Prime Minister for a legislative resolution to the Ayers-Caesar debacle.
Ayers-Caesar was appointed a judge of the High Court on April 12 and resigned after prisoners whose cases were left unfinished rioted.
Ayers-Caesar is also challenging the revocation of her appointment as a judge and she will know next week if she has the permission of the court to pursue her legal action against the JLSC.