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Monday 11 November 2019
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Letters to the Editor

Memories of Justice

THE EDITOR: I was greatly saddened to learn of the deaths of two of my favourite judges, Justice Basdeo Persad Maharaj and, more recently, Justice Ralph Narine. Their professional accomplishments will be extolled elsewhere. My memories are personal.

It was always a great pleasure for me to appear before these two judges in my early days of practice. They wore lightly their cloak of judiciary, yet enjoyed the respect of all.

They both recognised that their entitlement to be addressed as “Milud” did not confer on them near divinity, as in their interactions with subordinates they acknowledged a shared humanity. Both loved to chat, and though this annoyed some practitioners, I thought it made bearable the rigours of practice.

Maharaj was as passionate about family law as I am. He often took the opportunity to ask my opinion on some family law point or refer me to some judgment in family law that I should review.

His judgments were thorough. His fatherly pride in his three sons in law was no secret. He was always very polite, pleasant and exceedingly patient. He truly made the practice of law a joy.

Who can forget Narine’s sense of humour? One day I walked into the Appeal Chamber Court and he informed me that he was not pleased with me. I was genuinely puzzled, as I knew all my documents were in order. As he saw my confusion he proceeded to ask me how I could get married and not invite him.

On another occasion, I was vigorously arguing a point when he said to me that he thought I would have cooled down after my marriage. I remember once when I was awaiting a judgment from him and we met socially. As I approached him, anticipating I might ask him about it, he immediately placed an index finger on his lips. He certainly knew how to take the wind out of my sails.

I recall when applying for leave for a writ of habeas corpus involving a child. He engaged our client, a Nicaraguan of Chinese descent, resident in San Francisco, about her lineage. I did not see any point in his questions, but in retrospect realised that it served to calm our client, who had been extremely anxious about her matter.

His interests were wide -ranging, making him an excellent conversationalist. He could see humour in any situation, and fielded expertly, comments on his physical resemblance to a younger judge, which was compounded by their common passion for cricket.

I pray the ultimate judge would judge these good men gently and welcome them into His hallowed hall of justice.




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