JADA LOUTOO AND SEAN DOUGLAS
Senior Counsel Martin Daly and former head of the Public Service Reginald Dumas say the only person to deal with allegations against Chief Justice Ivor Archie is the chief justice himself.
“We remain of the firm view that the person best placed to deal with the allegations in the public domain, particularly the alleged relationship with Dillian Johnson, is the Chief Justice himself,” the two men said in a joint statement issued yesterday.
They were responding to a report in Sunday Newsday which spoke of a group of judges saying that at no time did Archie seek to change security arrangements for judicial officers, nor did he identify any security companies to undertake the task. The Sunday Newsday article said the judges have personally paid for an advertisement to be placed in one of the daily newspapers to outline their position to the public.
The article also said the judges preferred to remain anonymous but gave the mandate to the Judiciary’s Court Protocol and Information Unit to make the necessary arrangements for the publication of the advertisement.
The judges are also said to have undertaken their action without the knowledge of the Chief Justice.
But Daly and Dumas in their statement said it was improper for the judges to use the Judiciary’s Court Protocol and Information Unit to issue a public statement denouncing the allegations against the CJ. “It seems to us that these judges cannot use the Court Protocol unit office to place an advertisement that has no official status and is a private expression of opinion of an unknown number of anonymous judges.
“If the mandate is accepted by the CP unit it would be an improper use of that unit, made more serious by the unit being used to cloak a private opinion in anonymity.
“We also inquire whether the CP unit can accept the alleged mandate without the approval of the Chief Justice as head of the Judiciary,” the two said.
According to Daly and Dumas, the Sunday Newsday article revealed deep divisions within the Judiciary, which they said ‘are not conducive to public trust in the institution and which will further undermine the institutional reputation of the Judiciary.’ At an emergency meeting last week Wednesday, the Council of the Law Association decided that the allegations against the CJ were ‘sufficiently grave’ to warrant further consideration as to what appropriate action the council should take. They also agreed to set up a committee to ‘attempt to ascertain/substantiate the facts’ upon which the allegations made against the Chief Justice were alleged to be based and to report back to council for further consideration.
Speaking yesterday, president of the association Douglas Mendes,SC, said the Sunday Newsday report only dealt with one of the allegations and when the council next meets on December 14, they will take all the reports into account and ‘decide what we have to do next.’ He also said the committee was already set up and will do the task it has been assigned.
Archie is expected to go on extended leave in March.