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Monday 9 December 2019
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Judges shaken by no action on CJ

Anonymous statement claims

Chief Justice Ivor Archie
Chief Justice Ivor Archie

LEGAL opinion government obtained in the ongoing saga of Chief Justice Ivor Archie is not sitting well with attorneys and even judges.

Newsday learned yesterday that a few judges privately expressed their views yesterday on the Prime Minister's decision not to proceed to impeach based on a legal opinion he received three weeks ago.

Newsday obtained what was referred to as the collective views of at least nine judges who, alarmed at the decision, issued an anonymous statement.

It said in part, “The judiciary is at its’ lowest ever and this decision perpetuates the perception that this is a lawless land where no one is held to account.”

Former vice-president of the Law Association Hendrickson Seunath, said yesterday that he was convinced that a prima facie case was made out against Archie in the legal advice solicited by the Law Association of TT (LATT).

“I know some judges are not comfortable. I don’t think it was a right decision not to invoke Section 137 (constitution). I believe a prima facie case was made out, sufficient to warrant appointment of a tribunal. That is my personal opinion.”

Dr Rowley announced on Thursday that based on a legal opinion he sought, it did not warrant impeaching Archie.

Opposed to LATT’s recommendation for impeachment, the advice Rowley sought centred on the issues for which brought Archie into public focus – allegations of use of judiciary’s letterhead to recommend HDC housing for acquaintances and an reported friendship with self-confessed fraudster Dillian Johnson who fled to the UK.

The judges’ views went on to add, “The decision simply perpetuates the perception that this is a lawless land where no one is held to account.

"No constitutional obligation should be discharged arbitrarily and any informed observer seized of the relevant information would be hard-pressed to conclude that Section 137 should not be engaged.

"It is hope that serious thought is given by civic-minded persons, who, appreciate the need to have an independent judiciary and judges who are not beholden to the executive, to judicially review this decision.”

Seunath, former chairman of the Disciplinary Committee of the LATT, said the least Rowley should do was to make the legal opinion public in the interest of the rule of law.

He said, “At a time when discipline is lacking; what is carrying us down, the public has a right to know. It is taxpayers who paid for the legal advice.”

President of the Assembly of Southern Lawyers Michael Rooplal, said that it was his personal view that maintaining integrity in the justice system, demands transparency in the matters involving Archie.

He said, “The report should be released to the public because justice is a public matter.”

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