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Tuesday 20 November 2018
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Too many women magistrates angers attorney

AZARD ALI

THERE are 31 female and ten male magistrates and this fact has incurred the wrath of an attorney who has lodged a complain, perceiving it as a judicial imbalance.

Sex representation is important in dispensing justice, attorney Stephen Boodram stated in a letter to the Assembly of Southern Lawyers (ASL). He stated that there is a need for the judiciary to perform a balancing act among the sexes in as far as the appointment of magistrates are concerned.

Boodram, in his letter addressed to ASL’s vice president Giri Dalbary, pointed out that out of a total of 56 magistrates’, only six are males. An online check on the judiciary’s website showed that there are 41 magistrates of which 31 are women. In the last two years, all of the appointments to the magisterial bench have been female.

Boodram, an attorney who practises in the civil courts, stated, “I call upon the assembly to take steps to bring to the relevant authorities the need to perform a balancing act with the sexes in the appointment of magistrates so as to increase the number of males on the lower bench. Perhaps we need to start by enquiring what was the total number of males applying for the position of magistrates over the last five years.

Boodram expressed the view in his letter that sex representation is a necessary part of democratic life. And since men make up a meagre part of the magisterial bench, he added, it maybe perceived by male prisoners that they are not being treated fairly by female judges. He referred to an incident several years ago in which deceased Dana Seetahal SC who was once a magistrate, had told a defendant to “take your hands off your balls”. Boodram said that it has been the experience among many attorneys that female magistrates need to temper their anger a bit when adjudicating in cases involving male accused and female victims. Contacted yesterday, Boodram said that his letter reflects the views of many attorneys he discussed the matter with. In fact, he added, they have pointed out that Trinidad and Tobago is fast becoming a female-dominated society. “Attorneys have told me that we have a female president, the president of the senate is a female, the house speaker as well, all of the high court registrars, the solicitor general is a female, and ninety per cent of the magistrates. There are five high court registrars in San Fernando and all are females. That is not democracy, “ Boodram said.

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