Nervous weekend for Chief Justice …”JUDGMENT DAY – TUESDAY”

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It will be a nervous weekend for embattled Chief Justice Ivor Archie.

The Chief Justice has to sit and wait until Tuesday to know whether he has stopped the Law Association from investigating him.

Justice Nadia Kangaloo reserved her decision on Friday, as she needs time to consider the lengthy submissions presented by attorneys for Archie and the Law Association at the Port-of-Spain High Court.

In his judicial review lawsuit, Archie contended that the Law Association does not have any power under the Legal Profession Act to investigate him, as such power lies in Section 137 of the Constitution. Under Section 137, the President appoints a tribunal after misconduct allegations against a Chief Justice are referred by the Prime Minister.

The tribunal, which includes a chairman and at least two other members, all with judicial experience in Commonwealth jurisdictions, will investigate and then make recommendations.

Presenting submissions on Archie’s behalf yesterday, Ian Benjamin claimed the association’s approach was misguided.

He said, “Parliament gave you the power to look at lawyers not judges.”

He also accused the Law Association of being biased based on the no confidence motion it passed against Archie and members of the Judicial and Legal Service Commission (JLSC), over their handling of the judicial appointment of former Chief magistrate Marcia Ayers-Caesar to the High Court in April last year.

He also claimed the investigation was unfair, as Archie was never provided with the Association’s report on the allegations it is investigating when he was asked to respond.

In response, the Association’s lawyer Christopher Hamel-Smith SC said the association was allowed to scrutinize Archie’s conduct like any other citizen.

He added, “If we are unable to look up at judges and analyse their conduct, then we do not live in the democratic society we were promised in the Constitution.”

While he admitted Section 137 provided the only avenue to bring disciplinary proceedings against Archie, he noted that the Association’s investigation was simply to determine if the allegations were sufficient to refer them to the Prime Minister to trigger the impeachment process.

“It is the responsible thing for the association to do what it can to ascertain the facts related to the allegations.”

Archie is also being represented by John Jeremie, SC, Kerwyn Garcia and Keith Scotland, while the association is also being represented by Jason Mootoo, Rishi Dass and Robin Otway.

The controversy surrounding Archie arose late last year after a series of media reports which accused Archie of attempting to persuade the judges to change their State-provided security in favour of a private company in which his friend and convicted fraudster Dillian Johnson worked.

Archie was also accused of attempting to fast track Housing Development Corporation (HDC) applications for persons. Archie only responded to the allegations once, where he denied discussing judges’ security but admitted to suggesting persons for HDC housing.
In November last year, the Council of the Law Association called on Archie to respond to the allegations. But Archie has repeated refused the association’s request to directly respond to the allegations.

The association’s council has since appointed a sub-committee to investigate the allegations and sought the legal advice of two eminent Queen’s Counsel to determine if the allegations are sufficient to trigger impeachment proceedings under S137 of the Constitution.

Dr. Francis Alexis, QC, of Grenada and Eamon Courtenay, QC, of Belize, received the investigative report last week and are expected to deliver their advice, which would be relayed to the Association’s membership at a special general meeting. In the event that Archie is refused an injunction, the meeting is expected to be held at Queen’s Hall, St Ann’s, on March 15.

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IVOR ARCHIE 
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IAN BENJAMIN 
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CHRISTOPHER HAMEL-SMITH SC

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