THE LAW Association’s legal challenge of the Prime Minister’s refusal to invoke impeachment proceedings against Chief Justice Ivor Archie will be dealt with quickly at a rolled-up judicial review hearing as agreed to by all parties.
This means that Justice Vasheist Kokaram will consider the association’s complaints against the Prime Minister as well as whether to give permission to bring the proceedings at one hearing, rather than the more drawn-out and costly two-stage procedure.
The consensus was arrived at by attorneys for the association, Dr Rowley and Archie, who will enter the proceedings as an interested party.
Kokaram reported back on the decision taken by attorneys at a closed-door hearing at the Hall of Justice in Port of Spain, yesterday.
Attorneys met with the judge for just over 30 minutes to agree on the way forward for the case. Earlier, the judge provided a “conflict-resolution process map” for everyone who in the packed courtroom for the hearing. The “map” provided a visual of the possible avenues open to resolve the matter, including dispute resolution and arbitration, the option of the rolled-up hearing or the regular route of leave stage to be followed by the substantive hearing if permission is granted.
He also provided attorneys with a memorandum of issues he believes are central to the dispute, making it clear he was not pre-determining the case, but wanted parties to be cognisant of the impact it will have on the administration of justice.
After the appearances for the association, the Prime Minister, the Attorney General and the Chief Justice were announced, attorneys reconvened in a separate courtroom, labelled “peace room” by the judge, for their discussions.
When they returned, Kokaram gave his orders for the association to file its fixed date claim form by Friday. On Monday, a scheduling hearing will be held so that dates can be set for the trial of the issues.
Neither the Prime Minister nor the Chief Justice were in court and their respective attorneys apologised for their absence as they were both engaged in official duties.
In its application, the association accused the Prime Minister of apparent bias in his decision not to invoke section 137 proceedings against Archie. The association said Rowley “was more concerned with shutting down” its recommendation because he believed it was acting at the behest of the opposition United National Congress (UNC.)
“Given his subjective views on the nature and purpose of the applicant’s committee’s report, the Prime Minister was not capable of properly and fairly determining the question before him in the exercise of a Constitutional function in the public interest,” the association said.
The association intends to ask the High Court to direct Rowley to reconsider his decision so that a tribunal can be appointed to investigate Archie. The association, represented by Jamaican QC Dr Lloyd Barnett, is seeking some six declarations. They include declarations that the PM’s decision not to make representations to the president that Archie should be removed from office, so that the allegations against him can be investigated, was illegal, unlawful, contrary to law, unreasonable and an improper exercise of discretion.
It also wants the court declare that Rowley’s decision was not made in the performance of his constitutional functions in the public interest; that his decision was made in bad faith; that he took into account irrelevant considerations, and that he failed to take into account relevant considerations.
Also appearing with Barnett for the association are Elaine Greene, Rishi Dass, Kiel Tacklalsingh, Kirk Bengochea and Imran Ali. Representing the PM are Reginald Armour, SC, Justin Phelps, Kendra Mark and Raphael Ajodha. Senior Counsel John Jeremie and Ian Benjamin lead Kerwyn Garcia and Keith Scotland for the CJ, while Senior Counsel Fyard Hosein leads Sasha Bridgemohansingh and Michelle Benjamin for the AG.
Hours earlier, social activist Wendell Eversley led a handful of vocal protesters who stood across from the Hall of Justice chanting: “Leave the CJ alone.”
Eversley, who began his protest at 6 am on Independence Square and walked to Knox Street, told the media he was calling on the association to account for its actions. He questioned whether the association was a “lynch mob” and a body onto its own, accusing it of not dealing with its own members.