Former chief magistrate Marcia Ayers-Caesar is not the only one seeking to have the interpretation summons filed by the Attorney General struck out.
The Judicial and Legal Services Commission (JLSC) – which recommended her appointment as a judge – has also asked for the summons to be removed from the court, on the basis that it was an abuse, since the commission and Ayers-Caesar are against each other in a judicial-review application she filed. The judicial review application challenges her removal as a judge of the High Court. Also agreeing that there was some overlap were the Criminal Bar Association and a few of the accused people whose cases were affected when Ayers-Caesar was appointed as a judge.
All those with objections to the Attorney General’s case going forward are expected to file their submissions by February and March, as ordered by Justice Carol Gobin yesterday. Parties will return to court on April 10 next year. Gobin said there was some urgency in the case, as those before the courts could suffer the injustice of having their cases pending or restarted.
The claim filed by Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi asks the court to determine how to conclude the unfinished cases, pronounce on whether Ayers-Caesar is still a magistrate and if any of the cases can be continued by her or whether they can be restarted afresh before acting Chief Magistrate Maria Busby Earle-Caddle. Ayers-Caesar is named as the fourth defendant in the legal proceedings filed by Al-Rawi on September 1 which seek to have the court pronounce on what should be done with the cases left in abeyance when she was elevated to the High Court as a judge on April 12. She resigned two weeks later. However, she claimed she was forced to do so, and has since filed separate proceedings against the JLSC challenging this.
Ayers-Caesar has been granted leave by Justice David Harris and, according to her attorneys, led by Senior Counsel Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj, the interpretation summons will be an abuse of process against her, as it raised certain issues also noted by Ayers-Caesar in her case against the JLSC. He also said it was an abuse of process and oppressive to her since it created a multiplicity of proceedings.
However, attorneys for the Attorney General, led by Senior Counsel Gilbert Peterson, said there was no overlap, since Ayers-Caesar’s case involved her status as a judge, while the summons seeks to establish her status as a magistrate.
The JLSC’s lead counsel Deborah Peake, SC, further noted that according to the JLSC’s position, the post of chief magistrate was vacant, as evidenced by an advertisement published in November which sought applications for the position.
“All that is left is what happens now to the part-heard cases. The law is clear. The cases must be restarted,” she said. “Why take the time to come to court when you can look at the case law?” In his interpretation summons, Al-Rawi said it was filed in the public’s interest, as the issue of the unfinished cases had an impact on the rights of the accused and the wider public interest. The claim also notes the resolution will clarify the progress of pending cases.
There was also no objection to some of those whose cases are affected joining the matter. At least eight others have filed applications or intend to do so. Several of the 53 cases which were left in abeyance have since been restarted. There was no indication of the number that are still part-heard.
Ayers-Caesar and her husband, Rickie Caesar, were in court for yesterday’s hearing. She sat in the public gallery, taking notes.