(Trinidad Guardian) The Law Association of T&T (LATT) membership has voted to refer allegations of misconduct against Chief Justice Ivor Archie to Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley for his consideration of impeachment proceedings against the CJ.
At a Special General Meeting at the Hyatt Regency, Port-of-Spain, yesterday, 150 members voted for and 32 against a resolution to send the matter to the PM. The vote came after the members inspected the report compiled by Eamon Harrison Courtenay and Francis Alexis, the two eminent regional senior counsel hired by the association to probe the allegations made against the CJ, and the majority were swayed enough by its contents to believe it should now go before the PM for the triggering of the process under Section 137 of the Constitution.
Following the meeting, LATT president Douglas Mendes SC said the report will now be quickly dispatched to Rowley. He, however, could not say if it would reach the PM before Cabinet meets tomorrow.
“We will do our best to get it off to him as soon as possible” Mendes said.
He confirmed 32 people voted against the resolution and 150 voted for and “that was the extent of the opposition,” but said he himself had no personal views on how the vote went. Mendes said the CJ will be made privy to the decision as his lawyers were present during the proceedings. But he said he had no idea if Archie will challenge the decision.
On August 16, 2018, the LATT was given the all clear to complete its investigation into the veracity of misconduct allegations levelled against Archie, after the Privy Council dismissed a lawsuit from Archie challenging the association’s jurisdiction to conduct the inquiry.
However, regardless of yesterday’s LATT vote, the final decision to invoke impeachment proceedings still rests with Rowley. Only the PM can make the recommendation to the President to appoint a tribunal to investigate the allegations. The controversy surrounding Archie arose late last year in a series of newspaper reports which accused him of attempting to persuade judges to change their State-provided security in favour of a private company where his friend and convicted fraudster Dillian Johnson worked. Archie was also accused of allegedly attempting to fast-track Housing Development Corporation (HDC) applications for his friends. Archie only responded to the allegations once, where he denied discussing judges’ security but admitted to suggesting persons for HDC housing.
Johnson is currently in the United Kingdom seeking political asylum after an attempt on his life last year.
In November last year, the LATT council called on Archie to respond to the allegation that he discussed the judges’ security with a private individual. The body then appointed a sub-committee to investigate the allegations and sought the legal advice of two eminent QCs to determine if the allegations were sufficient to trigger impeachment proceedings under S137 of the Constitution.
Archie has repeatedly refused the association’s request and calls from colleagues to directly respond to the allegations since then.