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Judge calls on colleagues to meet CJ on allegations

Published: 
Saturday, November 18, 2017

A senior High Court judge has called on her colleagues to requisition a meeting with Chief Justice Ivor Archie to discuss recent allegations levelled against him.

In a written request sent to all judges of the High Court and the Court of Appeal including Archie yesterday, a copy of which was obtained by the T&T Guardian, Justice Carol Gobin said the meeting was necessary to ensure public trust in the Judiciary.

“May I please humbly request and I do so for the sake of the Institution and the preservation of what is left of public confidence in it, that we request an urgent meeting with the Honourable Chief Justice upon his return to discuss the allegations, and to urge him to provide such answers as might explain them for the benefit of the public whom we serve, and for us members of the Judiciary,” Gobin said in the request.

While Gobin said that getting Archie’s responses to the allegations was important, she noted that they were still unproven.

“If it turns out that these sordid allegations are without any foundation or truth, then I believe we are duty bound to forcefully defend the office of Chief Justice and the Judiciary,” Gobin said as she referred to the Code of Ethics for Judicial Officers.

Archie is currently on an official overseas trip to the Netherlands and is expected to return today.

Contacted yesterday another judge, who asked to remain anonymous, said he saw Gobin’s request and supported it.

“The legitimacy of the legal authority exercised by the Judiciary is contingent upon the public’s ability to depose trust and confidence in judges. If the public has no respect or regard for the judge how can they be expected to abide by the judge’s decision,” the judge said.

The allegation that Archie attempted to persuade the judges to change their State-provided security in favour of a private company in which his friend works, were made in a report in last week’s Sunday Express newspaper.

While the Council of the Law Association has called on Archie to respond to the allegation that he discussed the judges’ meeting with his friend afterwards, it stated that the other allegations were unsubstantiated.

In a press release issued earlier this week, the association’s secretary Elena Araujo said: “The article reports a meeting between the Chief Justice and his fellow Supreme Court judges at which he suggested the retention of a private security firm, but that he did not identify any particular firm.”

She added: “It also reports that he raised an issue concerning security arrangements with National Security personnel which was forwarded to the Special Branch and the acting Commissioner of Police, but that he did not suggest the retention of private security.”

Speaking at the weekly post-Cabinet press briefing on Thursday, Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister Stuart Young said the Government was observing the situation but would and could not intervene.

The fresh allegations against Archie comes months after the association’s membership passed a no confidence motion in him and the members of the Judicial and Legal Service Commission (JLSC) over their handling of the fiasco caused by the short-lived judicial appointment of former chief magistrate Marcia Ayers-Caesar.

Ayers-Caesar resigned two weeks after she was appointed a judge, amid public furore over 53 cases that she left unfinished when she took up the post. She has since sued Archie and the JLSC claiming that they were aware of the unfinished cases and pressured her to resign.

Archie has also been criticised in the past over his frequent overseas trips.