29 Jul 2018

Who can’t help but love the law, eh?

2018-07-29_08-39-06Chief Justice Ivor Archie is like a salmon swimming against the current. With a bear (or other predator) waiting upstream.

Archie is an untenable position, but it seems he alone does not know it. Or at least, he chooses to ignore it, using the defence, “Might is right”.

Not only has Archie admitted to using his position as Chief Justice of Trinidad and Tobago (CJ) to influence the award of housing to persons, the persons so recommended for housing were convicted felons, who continued to breach the law, only they did so by using the name of the CJ – and by extension his Office! – to mislead people in furtherance of their fraudulent activities.

Be very much aware: Archie admitted publicly that he used his Office to gain favours for his friends. That was, and is, the core issue. Guilt, as far as I am concerned, was admitted. All is left is the sentence, to keep the judicial analogy.

Obviously, there is a great deal wrong with the above scenario, of convicted fraudsters using the Office and relationships with the CJ to further scam/fleece the public. Any right-thinking person would immediately see the breach of ethical responsibility of the CJ.

“His conduct was perfectly odious—that is, to any right-thinking person.”

The above quote by John Conroy Hutcheson, is apt to the occasion, don’t you think?

But Archie’s ‘might is right’ doctrine holds, as at least on 2 separate occasions he has used his position and Office as ‘administrative head’ of the Judiciary to issue press releases in defence of himself for breaches of law and ethical conduct, made in his private capacity.

Another question, superbly referred to by Justice Seepersad and one which I wondered myself, is who is footing the legal bill for the CJ all the way to the Privy Council? Are his Counsels (Ian Benjamin, for one) being paid by the Archie the private citizen, or by the Office of the CJ? Perhaps Benjamin should answer; I dare say that revealing the source of the payments would not be a breach of client/attorney privilege, as it does not require divulging any details of the matter at hand.

I for one, eagerly await the judgment of the Privy Council, but I am aware that the judgment is merely the first stepping stone… it is only to determine whether the CJ can be investigated by the Law Association (LATT) with a view to determine whether a recommendation can be made to the Prime Minister (step 2) to refer the matter to the President (step 3) to set up a tribunal (step 3) to investigate the CJ (step 4).

Who can’t help but love the law, eh?

What then, is the solution to all this? If the Prime Minister stops diddling with himself, obviously.

Had the Prime Minister, (let's call him Rowley, for simplicity's sake) triggered section 137 of the Constitution, then all this matter would have been addressed, and put behind us by this time. Rowley's dithering in this matter is the primary reason that this issue is going on so long, and making Trinidad and Tobago the laughingstock of the Commonwealth, and indeed, the whole world.

Readers may want to research 'fettering of discretion'. In short, this is where someone has a discretion granted in law, but refuses to use it, or uses it incorrectly.

Note that Rowley has no physical or legal impediment stopping him from referring the matter to the President, thus triggering section 137. Therefore, one can only infer that the impediment is psychological (mental). Referring the matter to the President for setting up a tribunal to investigate the Chief Justice does not imply guilt on the part of the latter. Rather, it is to determine guilt – or innocence – and one way or the other, the matter would be settled. Short, sweet and simple.

Personally, I cannot see where or what the Chief Justice has to gain by staying in office, neither can I see where or what the Prime Minister has to gain by keeping him there. Whatever it is, it must be so important that they are willingly bringing the Judiciary, the Government, and the country into disrepute.

Who can’t help but love the law, eh?