Trinidad law association internal probe finds enough on CJ

-says PM must weigh impeachment

Attorneys Joan Byrne, Larry Lalla and Avory Sinanan speak after the Law Association Special General Meeting at the Hyatt Regency in Port-of Spain yesterday.

(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.

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