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Tuesday 21 May 2019
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President Weekes: ‘IT WAS AN ERROR’

President responds to Devant on judge's JLSC appointment

President Paula-Mae Weekes
President Paula-Mae Weekes

President Paula-Mae Weekes says “an error” was discovered in the appointment of Appeal Court judge Charmaine Pemberton as a member of the Judicial and Legal Service Commission (JLSC) which will be corrected at the earliest opportunity.

Weekes, in response to correspondence sent to her by attorney Gerald Ramdeen on behalf of UNC activist Devant Maharaj, on Wednesday told him his queries “caused the office of the President to review its records and discover an error.”

She explained what the error was: “While the relevant instrument of appointment indeed indicated that the Honourable Justice had been appointed, in accordance with the provisions of paragraph (b) of subsection (3) of section 110 of the Constitution, the letters of consultation to the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition dated 21st July, 2017, and which preceded the appointment, referred to section 110 (3) (a).”

Weekes also thanked Maharaj for his “astute observation,” adding, “rest assured that I will move to redress this situation at the earliest.”

Ramdeen wrote to Weekes last week, pointing out the Privy Council ruling which held that there cannot be appointments to the JLSC, under section 110(3)(b) of the Constitution of either serving judges or former judges in retirement.

In his letter to Weekes, Ramdeen said failure to revoke Pemberton’s appointment will “create a constitutional crisis.”

“Failure to do so will create a constitutional crisis because you, as Head of State and the ultimate guardian of the Constitution – which is the supreme law of the land – will be guilty of ignoring and disobeying a judgment from the highest court in our legal system.

“A refusal to act will amount to a serious dereliction and abdication of duty on your part,” Ramdeen told the President.

Ramdeen had given Weekes five days to revoke the appointment and “appoint a more suitable candidate…as a matter of extreme urgency.”

He has also told the President, if she failed to act, he intended to file a claim for administrative relief under the Judicial Review Act and the Constitution to have the appointment quashed and it be declared unconstitutional and illegal.

Members of the JLSC are appointed by the President and Pemberton was appointed to the JLSC in 2017 by former president Anthony Carmona.

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