CHIEF JUSTICE Ivor Archie will not escape the hot seat for questioning by former chief magistrate Marcia Ayers-Caesar in her legal challenge over her short-lived judicial appointment.
In an oral decision on Wednesday, five Privy Council judges dismissed the appeal of the Judicial and Legal Services Commission (JLSC), of which Archie is chairman.
The JLSC appealed after Ayers-Caesar was successful in her 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.
She says on that date she was forced to resign as a puisne judge of the Supreme Court judge, two weeks after she was appointed and sworn-in by former president Anthony Carmona. At the Court of Appeal, the former chief magistrate was also given permission to amend her claim to include a purported decision of the JLSC in which she alleged that she was threatened with possible investigation to get her to resignation. Her two applications which were allowed by the appellate court were upheld by the Privy Council. After hearing arguments from the JLSC’s attorneys, the judges did not call on Ayers-Caesar’s attorneys to respond. They retired for a few minutes before returning with their decision.
Lords Carnwath, Briggs, Kitchin, Sales and Lady Black dismissed the JLSC’s appeal and ordered it to pay Ayers-Caesar’s legal costs.
Ayers-Caesar’s attorney Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj said of the Privy Council’s ruling, “Both the JCPC and the Court of Appeal have made it clear that no one is above the law and where persons swear to affidavits regardless of their high positions, a court would order their cross-examination if their cross-examination is necessary for the court to determine disputed facts on relevant issues in the case."
On Thursday, the Privy Council will hear an appeal of the Attorney General, who is challenging the refusal of the Court of Appeal to remove the former president (Anthony Carmona) as a party to Ayers-Caesar’s lawsuit.
In her lawsuit against the JLSC, the former chief magistrate is claiming she was pressured by Archie and the JLSC to resign after it was disclosed that she left 52 preliminary inquiries unfinished when she took up her High Court appointment.
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 her consequent purported resignation as effective.
She said the JLSC pressured her to resign, in that she was told either to 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.
She is seeking reinstatement as a judge as well as compensation for breaches of her constitutional rights and loss of earnings.
Ayers-Caesar’s claim against the former president concerns his decision to refuse to reverse her resignation after she told him she had been pressured to resign.
Appearing for the JLSC were Ian Benjamin, SC, and Ian Roach. Peter Knox, QC, and Robert Strang appeared for Ayers-Caesar.