Senior counsel should be named before May 26 and should include women

Dear Editor,

I agree with attorney at law Jonas Coddett that outstanding female lawyers should be considered for membership of the inner bar and should not be sidelined because of their gender. I am impressed with the history he gave of the legal profession as regards female lawyers and solicitors.

However, I am not in favour of the Solicitor General and Director of Public Prosecutions being elevated because of their office. I feel that the distinguished honour should be bestowed on the person and not the office. Joaquin Gonsalves Sabola and Julian Nurse (both deceased) were offered silk while they served as Solicitor General, and Mannie Ramao and George Jackman were admitted to the inner bar because they were outstanding lawyers and not because of their official position.

Since the profession was fused in 1979 former solicitors are now attorneys and can receive silk; the first two were Eric Clarke and Sase Narain, while Desiree Bernard who was a solicitor was appointed a High Court judge. I remember writing a column the week before her appointment in 1980 under the rubric ‘High time for a female judge.’ Chancellor Bernard remembered my article because she mentioned it to me when I interviewed her in Port of Spain after she retired as a judge of the Caribbean Court of Justice.

Several female lawyers in Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, Belize and the Eastern Caribbean have been elevated to the inner bar, and I do not see why the fairer sex in the Co-operative Republic cannot be promoted. Remember Guyana in most instances was in the forefront in the region and we boasted the best legal brains such as the Luckhoos, JOF Haynes, Alfred Crane, his son Victor Emanuel Crane, Gilbert Farnum, Mohammed Shahabuddeen, Shridath Ramphal and dozens of others. There are several female lawyers in Georgetown who are candidates for silk, but they must be selected because of their legal ability and not political affiliation as was done a few years ago.

Guyana has not named senior counsel for a number of years, and I think those in authority should announce a few appointments before May 26, the 50th anniversary of our independence.

Yours faithfully,

Oscar Ramjeet

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