CHIEF JUSTICE Ivor Archie is in quarantine, at home, for seven days.
Though details of the Chief Justice’s condition were not revealed, and questions to the Judiciary were not answered, attorneys represented the Judicial and Legal Service Commission (JLSC), of which Archie chairs, on Monday said he was required to quarantine at home for seven days.
Senior Counsel Deborah Peake, a member of the JLSC’s legal team, asked that Archie be permitted to give his evidence in the four-day trial of former chief magistrate Marcia Ayers-Caesar’s challenge of her short-lived judicial appointment, at home.
Peake said arrangements would be made to facilitate him giving evidence from home when he is expected to be cross-examined by Ayers-Caesar’s attorneys on Tuesday. He will be questioned by the former chief magistrate’s attorneys. Tuesday’s sitting is expected to be a marathon session, possibly ending at 4 pm. Four days – Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday – have been set aside for the trial.
Justice David Harris is presiding over the former chief magistrate’s judicial review claim in which she contends she was pressured into resigning as a judge of the High Court in April 2017.
In response to Peake’s revelation, which was telegraphed to attorneys by e-mail on Sunday night, Ayers-Caesar’s lead counsel, Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj, SC, said he had no objection to the proposal but expressed concern of public perception of the Chief Justice giving evidence from home “may be misconstrued."
But he added, “If that is to be, I have no objection.” Senior Counsel Reginald Armour, who appears for the Attorney General, said he saw “no good reason” why the public should be concerned with the CJ giving evidence from home since this has become the new normal.
Last week Monday, Archie presented the instruments of appointment to Justice Ronnie Boodoosingh who was elevated to the Court of Appeal. The presentation took place at the Hall of Justice in Port of Spain.
Monday’s start to the virtual trial was delayed by an hour because of technical difficulties. Access to the hearing was posted on the Judiciary’s website and at one point, just before noon, there were 148 guests, mostly attorneys, law students, a couple magistrates and prosecutors, logged on to the proceedings. At each location where witnesses are expected to testify, there were two high court marshals present.
At the end of Monday’s sitting, Harris admitted there were some glitches but admitted it could have been worse. He also said he has asked that the Judiciary’s technical team sort out an issue with persons accessing the hearing without being invited by his judicial support staff.