One is an unfortunate error. Two is a cause for concern. But what do you call three mix-ups in the same case?
And if the High Court cannot get simple procedure right in a matter involving two of Trinidad and Tobago’s most eminent politicians, then what is left for the rest of us?
On Thursday, Attorney General Anand Ramlogan claimed a legal victory over Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley on the grounds that the latter failed to file a defence to Ramlogan’s defamation case against him.
As it turned out, Ramlogan was counting his chickens far too early. And the last thing he would want in this calypso season is to be seen fraternising with more farm animals.
In an email yesterday from Stacy Seemungal, Judicial Officer to Justice Seepersad, the court official stated that: “The Application and the Draft Order were then passed to Ms Pariag, a Judicial Support Officer attached to Justice Seepersad’s team to do the Order and inform the parties that the Order was granted.
“She inadvertently and without any direction from the Judge e-mailed the claimant (Ramlogan). She also sent an e-mail to the Claimant’s attorney at law, but failed to either call or inform the Defendant’s attorney at law (Al Rawi) of the terms of the Judge’s Order…In the circumstances there is no information on the (Ramlogan vs Rowley) file that indicates that the Defendant (Rowley) was informed of the Judges Order.”
As a court official herself, Mr Live Wire finds it odd that Seemungal would be so loose with language as to suggest Pariag’s error was “inadvertent.”
How can Seemungal truly know whether it was inadvertent or not? On this evidence, there seems to be more transparency and logic over eviction notices from Big Brother’s house than in High Court matters.
You see, according to Rowley’s attorney and PNM senator Faris Al-Rawi, there were three mistakes here not one.
First, there was a change of judges for the case without informing Rowley. Then, a 7 January 2015 deadline was given for Rowley to submit his defence. The High Court saw it fit to give that information to the AG but not to Rowley’s legal team, who are the ones that asked for the damn thing in the first place.
And, finally, the judgment—made without any communication with Rowley’s legal team—was sent via email to the AG’s legal team but not the defendant. Even Ravi Balgobin Maharaj got a copy!
In Mr Live Wire’s own four month stint as a defence attorney against ex-FIFA vice president, gift grabber and money re-router Jack Warner, all legal documents had to be copied and shared between the two parties. And the High Court would only communicate by mail to a Port of Spain address, which caused logistical issues since Live Wire lives and works in Arima.
So how the hell does the AG get court documents delivered to him by email?!
Justice is supposed to be blind. But, in Trinidad and Tobago, she peeps.
We would do well not to forget the gravity of the accusations made in the emails that Rowley read out in Parliament. They point to the darkest deeds being discussed at the very top of our country’s governance structure.
But how can we ever believe we have discovered the truth, one way or the other, when the High Court’s machinations look as sincere as a free-for-all in the WWF?
Trinidad and Tobago: A land where they shoot petty thieves and make big ones acting Prime Minister. And now where the supposedly impartial High Court swaps emails with the plaintiff while ignoring the defendant.
Live Wire can only assume that the AG has really gotten Rowley’s goat with this one. Pun intended.