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Daly: Seven questions for JLSC; why body cannot escape its failures in Ayers-Caesar appointment

The statement issued on Tuesday by the JLSC is little more than a confession that it failed to do independent due diligence of its own and was duped as a consequence.

This is obvious from the core defence of the JLSC that: Reasonable due diligence is satisfied by seeking an assurance that the appointee has done all that is required with respect to his/ her professional obligations to put themselves in readiness to assume duty.

Photo: President Anthony Carmona (centre) is flanked by Magistrate Marcia Ayers-Caesar (left) and Chief Justice Ivor Archie. (Copyright Trinidad Guardian)
Photo: President Anthony Carmona (centre) is flanked by Magistrate Marcia Ayers-Caesar (left) and Chief Justice Ivor Archie.
(Copyright Trinidad Guardian)

The statement tellingly reveals that after protest at the appointment of Mrs Marcia Ayers-Caesar, the JLSC then belatedly had an audit conducted of “the true state of affairs.”

Simply described, the JLSC put the cart before the horse when it appointed Mrs Ayers-Caesar before having such an audit done.

As I have always maintained how could the JLSC have sought to restore someone who allegedly duped it to the Magisterial bench?

Apparently the JLSC has now seen the light in this regard but there are still outstanding matters on which they must account with respect to that decision. See questions below.

Notably in this regard, the JLSC’s statement evades the issues that arose out of such a decision. These are set out in the questions my colleagues and I prepared under the heading Restoration. These questions are:

Photo: A court gavel and miniature statute of Lady Justice.
Photo: A court gavel and miniature statute of Lady Justice.

On the“ Restoration”

  1. a) Firstly, did Mrs Ayers-Caesar resign as Chief Magistrate when she was appointed a Judge? b) If not, how was her employment in the Magistracy determined? c) Is there any documentation recording the termination of her employment in the Magistracy? d) Did the JLSC meet to consider Mrs Ayers-Caesar’s re-appointment? If so when and who was present?
  2. What is the legal basis or framework upon which the JLSC acted in effecting such “restoration” or “return” to the Magistracy?
  3. Has Mrs Ayers-Caesar been restored as Chief Magistrate or as an ordinary Magistrate?
  4. If as Chief Magistrate did the JLSC give any consideration to the legitimate expectations of other Magistrates who are in line for promotion?
  5. Was the position to which she was appointed advertised? Did Mrs Ayers-Caesar apply? Was she interviewed?
  6. Having regard to the admission in her letter of resignation (as reported in the Press) that she failed to make full disclosure to the JLSC in relation to her part- heard matters—to the extent that this may reflect on her honesty or integrity—did the JLSC give any consideration as to how this would impact on the issue of fitness for office and public confidence in the administration of justice?
  7. Was any promise or inducement made to Mrs Ayers-Caesar that once she concluded her part-heard matters at the magisterial level she would once again be re-appointed to the High Court? If not, what is to be her position upon the conclusion of those matters?

It is time for these members to do the honourable thing on account of their grievous failures and their initial attempt to bully right thinking persons into silence.

Photo: Chief Justice Ivor Archie.
Photo: Chief Justice Ivor Archie.

Editor’s Note: At present, the members of the Judicial and Legal Services Commission are as follows:

(Chairman) The Honourable the Chief Justice Mr Ivor Archie (ex-officio member);

(Members) Dr Marjorie Thorpe, Chairman of the Public Services Commission (ex-officio member); Justice Roger Hamel-Smith; Justice Humphrey Stollmeyer.

About Martin Daly

Martin Daly
Martin G Daly SC is a prominent attorney-at-law. He is a former Independent Senator and past president of the Law Association of Trinidad and Tobago. He is chairman of the Pat Bishop Foundation, a board member of The Little Carib Theatre and Folkhouse and a steelpan music enthusiast.

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39 comments

  1. I’m no lawyer but judges have security of tenure, of that I’m sure. She would have had that from the time she was sworn in as a judge. Her baggage however, stems from before she was sworn in.

    As Judge Ayers-Caesar, there is no misbehavior in office!

    The issue still lies with the CJ and the JLSC not having official information with regards to her case load in the Magistrate’s Court. If the acting CM can produce the information then certainly all parties could have had that information from before she was sworn in to her new post.

    Having said that, it is important that a judge possess certain qualities, they must have their head on at all times. Mrs Ayers-Caesar’s actions and statements have introduced some doubt in her capabilities!

    I cannot see her being re-instated as a puisine judge but may get some compensation for the forced resignation. Maybe she can return to the Magistrate’s bench if the JLSC does have further objections.

    The bigger question is, “will the CJ be able to survive the oncoming manoeuvrings of Ramesh Lawrence Marharaj et al?”

  2. She didn’t get legal advice? Smh…

    • You have to understand, given the politically charged environment in which we are governed, it may not always be easy to get legal advice that you can trust, despite (because of?) who you are or what your position is.
      And if we agree that was her genuine situation, what does that say for the average person seeking advice?

  3. “Ayers-Caesar said she was “inconsolable” when she heard this.

    She, however, signed the resignation letter. However, she said she was unable to get legal advice before she did that.

    “I was distraught and I felt that I had no real choice but to sign the letter and accede to the resignation,” she said.

    “By now, it had been made clear to me that my resignation had already been orchestrated, and that this was a done deal,” Ayers-Caesar said.”

  4. *Attica/Tombs/Marin county rebellion* see wikipedia…/our own fires in 70’s when prisoners burnt sections of the prison.

  5. Is Marcia Ayers Caesar a liar? What about those 16 cases which were dismissed in the Chaguanas court?

    • The irony here of an attorney, speaking solely to the letter of the law as it relates to the removal of persons in office, rather than the spirit of the Law. I am confident it was never intended for persons who willingly or innocently bring the entire system of justice into disrepute (do I need to remind us of the history) and do little to restore public confidence in said system, to continue to sit and hold court.

    • This is what I find interesting about lawyers, they all twist the law to suit their purpose. They win cases on a technicality, their job is to defend their clients whether guilty or not. Absent in all of this is morals truth and integrity. Their job is to keep the citizens confused and take sides. This bunch of current lawyers (liars) objective is to stop the country from moving forward and halt everything in a corrupt justice system, led by corrupt officials. That’s T&T today, on a downward slide by power hungry men and women

  6. No one wants to hear the law Association since there has been internal bickering for years, since many lawyers have chosen poltiical sides. The Association lacks integrity and independence. Lawyres just jostling for positions.. Gone are the days of ‘good lawyers’ instead it is saturated with ‘lairs, who are greedy and corrupt..( open your newspaper daily) The president $28,000 fiasco is still looming over his head, so how can he preside over any one? IIs’ a simple case of who is guarding the guards .TRINIDAD and Tobago according to Transparency International is a corrupt Nation. All the institutions in T&T have been eroded. What is needed is proper managements, but when its incompetent friends and family at the helm or the same recycled people in every government what you expect?Take a bow passive Trinis, we like it so

    • Rossana I agree with all that you said AND I would suggest that we also need big time effective LEADERSHIP! Management do things right (process and goal oriented), leaders do the RIGHT things (people and ethics focused).

    • so what do we do, where is this effective leadership coming form , when the selection pool is so small and tainted. Try as we may to deny it in a plural society like us the elephant is the room is POLITICS, We cannot evade it. Behind the scenes we know the real actors are pulling the strings of the leaders who are put there by US to do their wishes. I agree with you regarding management, but when its friends and families who lack competence , how do we change things

  7. Classic case of when……… Hits the fan.

  8. Was there a formal statement by the Law Association?
    What are the consequences for the CJ, JLSC, (former ?) Chief Magistrate bringing the Judiciary into disrepute, raising questions of their integrity thereby losing public confidence?
    Can we continue to ‘move on’?
    Does the President have anything to say?

  9. Wait. But wait nuh.
    Just three measly persons on this body of a committee????!!!!!

  10. The same body says it don’t have a computer database of all cases

    In

    2017

    • The fact is, though, while one would want to believe that in 2017 where the office is computerised, that we can effectively computerise records for ease of access and efficiency, we still have dated books holding our L&B records (let’s not forget fires at WASA, because computer records are permanent as they are backed up externally), our licensing department etc.
      We somehow believe by providing computers instead of computerisation of systems, the problems would be solved. (Maybe to help staff relax with fb, online shopping, games?).
      By now, we ought to have computerised case files and scanners, eliminating the need for police to go to private offices to get copies.
      All the money going to the Judiciary, besides for overseas travel, I await annual comprehensive report on what $ is spent on.
      And yes, it is not a new problem, but when are we going to start demanding the CRAP (constantly repeated administrative problems, I think, via Therese Cornelis) be addressed?