A group of 40 lawyers petitioned the Law Association on Wednesday to convene a special general meeting to vote on a motion of no-confidence against Attorney General (AG) Reginald Armour, SC.
The action follows the council of the Law Association's decision on Tuesday to investigate allegations of a possible breach of the code of ethics of the Legal Profession Act by the AG as a consequence of a ruling in a US court on May 2.
Armour, 65, who was appointed AG on March 16 by the Prime Minister, is expected to return to the country on Thursday after leaving on Tuesday to attend to official business in the Bahamas, a government source said. No details were given of the matter he was dealing with.
A source close to the AG said he has maintained that he has done nothing wrong.
There has been a chorus of calls for his immediate resignation or for the Prime Minister to fire him after news broke on June 5, detailing the US court’s ruling disqualifying him from a US case institituted by the State against people alleged to have been involved in corruption in the construction of the $1.6 billion Piarco Airport terminal. Armour previously represented one of the accused.
Dr Rowley has not responded to media queries on the issue.
In the latest development, attorney Kiel Taklalsingh, in a covering letter to Law Association president Sophia Chote, SC, said some of his colleagues have taken note of the allegations in the public domain against the AG and believe the issue should be ventilated in a special general meeting of the association.
“Respectfully, these allegations, if left unaddressed have the potential to erode public confidence in our profession, the administration of justice and the rule of law.”
The lawyer said the AG’s continued silence in the matter “is unsatisfactory,” as the matters concern the “integrity of our profession” and cannot be considered state secrets.
The petition also seeks a response from the AG “to ensure that the principles of natural justice are observed.”
Lawyers who signed the petition intend to argue that the AG, as the titular head of the bar, is an ambassador of the legal profession and “is entrusted with a special and sacred duty to conduct himself in a manner that instils public trust and confidence in the profession and the administration of justice.”
The petition says the AG is also required to be honest and forthright in the conduct of public affairs and has a duty to preserve and protect the rule of law by ensuring that any representations made to courts of law are truthful and accurate to the best of his knowledge.
“The rule of law would be defeated and frustrated if evidence and/or representations made to a court of law by the honourable AG were untruthful or misleading."
Armour, in a statement on June 4, said he was “walled off” from the case by the US law firm after he disclosed his potential conflict of interest “other than case management issues,” which included signing off on a settlement from a co-operating witness who agreed to pay US$4 million in compensation to TT, testify in the local matters against his co-accused, and settle outstanding invoices to the firm. Over TT$20 million has been paid to the firm, which former AG John Jeremie retained in 2004.
Twelve of the Law Association’s 18-member council agreed to probe the AG’s conduct after he was disqualified from taking part in the multi-million-dollar civil forfeiture case against former finance minister Brian Kuei Tung and others in the Miami-Dade Circuit Court, which has been dragging on for the past 18 years.
Armour had represented Kuei Tung and his then-girlfriend Renee Pierre in related criminal proceedings in TT. He disclosed this to the US law firm, Sequor Law, retained by the State in the civil forfeiture case, he admitted he was still involved thereafter in the administrative work related to the same case.
In an affidavit in response to a motion by Kuei Tung to motion to strike out the US lawsuit, the AG claimed he played a minimal role as the defendants’ lawyer in TT, which was limited to “legal research and taking notes.”
The Opposition filed a motion of no confidence against Armour on Tuesday in the House of Representatives and called for US authorities to initiate a criminal investigation on a complaint of perjury.