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Thursday 17 October 2019
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[UPDATED] CJ TO TESTIFY

Ayers-Caesar gets to cross-examine Archie

LEAVING COURT: Former High Court judge Marcia Ayers-Caesar and her husband Rickie were in the Hall of Justice yesterday for continuation of her case against Chief Justice Ivor Archie. FILE PHOTO
LEAVING COURT: Former High Court judge Marcia Ayers-Caesar and her husband Rickie were in the Hall of Justice yesterday for continuation of her case against Chief Justice Ivor Archie. FILE PHOTO

CHIEF JUSTICE Ivor Archie will be put in the hot seat and questioned by former chief magistrate Marcia Ayers-Caesar in a legal challenge of her short-lived judicial appointment.
Ayers-Caesar was yesterday successful in an application to have Archie, as chairman of the Judicial and Legal Service Commission (JLSC), and three others, cross-examined on what transpired on April 27, 2017, when she says she was forced to resign as a Puisne judge two weeks after being sworn-in by former president Anthony Carmona.

Ayers-Caesar, who is represented by Senior Counsel Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj, Ronnie Bissessar and Vijaya Maharaj, was granted the court’s permission to pursue her lawsuit against the JLSC, but was denied two applications which sought to amend her claim and to cross examine Archie, the JLSC’s secretary, the CJ’s former administrative secretary and a former registrar of the High Court.

In a 28-page decision, Justices of Appeal Peter Jamadar and Gregory Smith said the judge who denied Ayers-Caesar’s applications was plainly wrong in his assessment.

Jamadar and Smith said the cross-examination of the CJ and the others may assist the court in resolving issues raised in the former chief magistrate’s claim “as well as in assessing the integrity and credibility of the competing versions of what happened.”

“Needless to say, this is likely to be relevant and material to the issues of duress, coercion, threat, procedural impropriety and the protection of the law, taken in the contexts of both section 137 (of the Constitution) and the factual matrix of this case,” the judges said yesterday. Section 137 of the Constitution sets out the procedure for the removal of a judge.

WHY WAS IT REFUSED?
They also found it was difficult to understand why the amendment was refused since permission had already been granted to Ayers-Caesar to challenge the JLSC’s decision to recommend that her appointment be revoked when it was already contended by her that she was threatened to resign.
The amendment, they said, essentially made the same claim, except it was re-framed since she only in June 2018, received minutes of the JLSC’s meeting on April 27, despite numerous requests for it.
“Also, it is palpable arguable with a realistic prospect of success, that what the Chief Justice in fact communicated and represented to the appellant is contextually ‘binding on the JLSC’.” They pointed out that one of the critical issues in this case was what in fact was communicated and represented to Ayers-Caesar by Archie, as the decisions of the JLSC, and how this was done. The judges said it went to content and conduct. “The resolution of these issues of fact are therefore both central and critical to the case for which leave has been granted and for which the amendments have been sought,” they said, adding if it was found that Ayers-Caesar’s version of what transpired was the truth, while it may not change what was in fact decided by the JLSC, it could detract from it.
“Furthermore, what if it is found the Chief Justice in fact threatened and/or pressured and/or otherwise forced or coerced the appellant as alleged (or at all) at his meeting with her on April 27, and that when he met with her he did so for and on behalf of the JLSC,” the judges asked. “What are the consequences, administratively and constitutionally? These are among the real and live issues in this case,” they added. The judges also noted that two years have passed since Ayers-Caesar filed her claim, and, as they pointed out, “this matter remains undetermined.”

“I WAS DISTRAUGHT”
“It is our hope that it will be given the unconditional priority that it demands in the national interest, and heard and determined within as short a time as is reasonably possible. Robust and decisive case management is now required. This is possible without sacrificing both fairness and flexibility.
Justice David Harris is presiding over Ayers-Caesar’s claim. Senior Counsels Russell Martineau, Deborah Peake and Ian Benjamin along with attorney Ian Roach represent the JLSC.
In her lawsuit, the former chief magistrate is claiming she was pressured by Archie and the JLSC to resign after it was disclosed she left 52 preliminary inquiries unfinished when she took up an appointment as a judge.
Ayers-Caesar was appointed on April 12. She resigned 15 days later amid public uproar over the unfinished cases. She is also claiming the JLSC acted unlawfully in seeking her resignation as a judge and that it unlawfully procured her resignation and acted unlawfully in treating as effective her consequent purported resignation.
She said she was pressured by the JLSC to resign, in that she was told to either sign an already prepared resignation letter or her appointment would be revoked by the President. “I was distraught and felt I had no choice but to sign the letter of resignation and media release and to accede to resigning since it was clear to me that my resignation had already been orchestrated and that this was a done deal,” she has said in her lawsuit, in which she seeks reinstatement as a judge as well as compensation for breaches of her constitutional rights, and loss of earnings.
Ayers-Caesar and her husband Rickie were in court at the Hall of Justice in Port of Spain for the ruling yesterday.

This story was originally published with the title "Ayers-Caesar gets to grill CJ Archie" and has been adjusted to include additional details. See original post below.


FORMER chief magistrate Marcia Ayers-Caesar will be able to question Chief Justice Ivor Archie in her legal challenge of her short-lived judicial appointment.

Ayers-Caesar was successful in her application to have Archie, among others, cross examined on what transpired on April 27, 2017, when she says she was forced to resign as a judge, days after she was appointed and sworn in.

The former chief magistrate is claiming she was pressured by Archie and the Judicial and Legal Service Commission (JLSC) to resign after it was disclosed that she left 52 preliminary inquiries unfinished when she took up an appointment as a High Court judge.

Ayers-Caesar was appointed a High Court Judge on April 12. She resigned 15 days later amid public uproar over the unfinished cases which saw accused persons riot in court when told their cases, some over a decade old, had to start over from scratch.

In her lawsuit, Ayers-Caesar is claiming the JLSC acted unlawfully in seeking her resignation as a judge, that it unlawfully procured her resignation and acted unlawfully in treating as effective her consequent purported resignation.

She said she was pressured by the JLSC to resign, in that, she was told to either sign an already prepared resignation letter or her appointment would be revoked by the President.

In their decision on Ayers-Caesar’s application to cross examine Archie, and three others, Justices of Appeal Peter Jamadar and Gregory Smith said the cross examination of the CJ and the others may assist the court in resolving the issues raised in the former chief magistrate’s claim “as well as in assessing the integrity and credibility of the competing versions of what happened.

“Needless to say, this is likely to be relevant and material to the issues of duress, coercion, threat, procedural impropriety and the protection of the law, taken in the contexts of both section 137 (of the Constitution) and the factual matrix of this case,” Jamadar said in the decision.

Section 137 of the Constitution sets out the procedure for the removal of a judge. The judges also noted that two years have passed since, “and this matter remains undetermined.”

“It is our hope that it will be given the unconditional priority that it demands in the national interest, and hear and determined within a short a time as is reasonably possible. Robust and decisive case management is now required. This is possible without sacrificing both fairness and flexibility.

“Proactive judicial leadership is necessary. Judges are ultimately responsible for the management of each case and the flow of all cases in their docket,” the judges said.

Justice David Harris is presiding over Ayers-Caesar claim. She is represented by Senior Counsel Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj, Ronnie Bissessar and Vijaya Maharaj while Senior Counsel Russell Martineau, Deborah Peake and Ian Benjamin along with attorney Ian Roach represent the JLSC, of which Archie is the chairman.

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