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Monday 27 January 2020
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Crowne: PM must be fair

Chief Justice Ivor Archie
Chief Justice Ivor Archie

UPDATE:

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley’s deliberation on whether he should initiate impeachment proceedings against Chief Justice Ivor Archie over allegations of wrongdoing in public office must be approached “dispassionately and fairly” to avoid potential fallout.

This is the view of attorney Dr Emir Crowne, who said on Friday that Rowley must carry out a sober review of the matter given the volatile nature of the allegations against Archie.

“I cannot say how the Prime Minister should, or will, act. I will, however note that he needs to examine the situation dispassionately and fairly, as the events that have led us to this point are nothing short of extraordinary,” Crowne said in a Sunday Newsday interview.

“Remember, we are talking about the extraordinary act of investigating and possibly removing a sitting Chief Justice, which is itself an intrusion into the usual separation of powers.”

He added: “Therefore, it would be odd if along every step of the way, the courts could– in turn–review the actions of the Executive who are reviewing the actions of the Judiciary. At some point in the process, there must be immunity from legal challenge. I think we are treading into those waters.”

Dr Emir Crowne

Crowne’s view came hours after the Office of the Prime Minister confirmed in a Facebook post on Friday it had received a report from the Law Association of TT (LATT), calling for a tribunal to be established to investigate allegations of misconduct against Archie, the titular head of the Judiciary.

According to the post, Rowley confirmed he had received a letter, dated December 13, as well as documents from the LATT.

At a special meeting of the LATT, on Tuesday at Hyatt Regency, Port of Spain, the membership voted overwhelmingly for the weighty report, compiled by an interim committee of the association along with two eminent legal voices, Eamon Courtenay SC and Dr Francis Alexis QC, both of whom were retained to advise on whether there were sufficient grounds to petition Rowley to initiate impeachment proceedings against the CJ.

This will entail invoking Section 137 of the Constitution, which gives that PM the authority to establish a tribunal to investigate the allegations.

And while the path is clear for the PM to take action on the basis of the doctrine of necessity, the jury is still out on the time frame in which Rowley is likely to make a determination.

Rowley is on record as saying he will not make any hasty decision about the report–a point echoed by Minister in the Office of the Attorney General Fitzgerald Hinds.

At the post-Cabinet news briefing on Thursday, Hinds told reporters the matter was of constitutional purport and as such, the Prime Minister would not act without advice.
As Crowne sees it, there are limited options in the matter.

“As has been widely reported, the next step in the process is for the Prime Minister to decide whether the matter should be referred to the President for further investigation,” he said.
Sub-section 137 (3) of the Constitution states: “Where the Prime Minister, in the case of the Chief Justice, or the Judicial and Legal Service Commission, in the case of a judge other than the Chief Justice, represents to the President that the question of removing a judge under this section ought to be investigated.”

However, Crowne noted: “If the Prime Minister’s representation to the President is premised on the LATT’s report and if the Prime Minister does not afford the Chief Justice the opportunity to respond to that report, it may breach the duty of fairness that is owed to the Chief Justice.”

He recalled that in Chief Justice of Trinidad and Tobago v The Law Association of Trinidad and Tobago, UKPC (United Kingdom Privy Council) 23, the Privy Council stated in paragraph 38:
“.....(5) Fairness will very often require that a person who may be adversely affected by the decision will have an opportunity to make representations on his own behalf either before the decision is taken with a view to producing a favourable result; or after it is taken, with a view to procuring its modification; or both.”

ORIGINAL STORY:

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley’s deliberation on whether he should initiate impeachment proceedings against Chief Justice Ivor Archie over allegations of wrongdoing in public office must be approached “dispassionately and fairly” to avoid potential fallout.

This is the view of attorney Dr Emir Crowne who said, on Friday, that Rowley must carry out a sober review of the matter given the volatile nature of the allegations against Archie.

“I cannot say how the Prime Minister should, or will, act. I will, however note that he needs to examine the situation dispassionately and fairly, as the events that have led us to this point are nothing short of extraordinary,” Crowne said.

“Remember, we are talking about the extraordinary act of investigating and possibly removing a sitting Chief Justice, which is itself an intrusion into the usual separation of powers.”

He added: “Therefore, it would be odd if along every step of the way, the courts could–in turn–review the actions of the executive who are reviewing the actions of the Judiciary. At some point in the process, there must be immunity from legal challenge. I think we are treading into those waters.”

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