“[Avason Quinlan-Williams] has very recently been appointed a High Court judge and we are absolutely satisfied that the public interest requires that the determination of the disciplinary tribunal be released, so that the public can be assured of the propriety of the appointment of Mrs Quinlan-Williams to the office of High Court judge.”
Attorney Martin Daly SC and former head of the Public Service Reginald Dumas have issued a joint media statement in response to a Sunday Express report on evidence gathered against High Court judge and former magistrate Avason Quinlan-Williams.
The Express article, written by Sheila Rampersad, transcribed excerpts of the audio recording of court proceedings in the Port of Spain Magistrates’ Court 4B, at 3.06pm on 29 June 2009, in which defendants Anthony Wilson and Robert Spencer informed Quinlan-Williams they had already appeared before another magistrate and were denied bail.
However, in her letter to then chief magistrate Sherman McNicholls on 16 July 2009, Quinlan-Williams wrote: “I indicated in open court that I would fix bail with a surety for the two men in the sum of $10,000. Up to that time I had no indication that these persons had appeared in the morning and therefore I could not have known that any order of remand in custody for ‘tracing & bail’ was made.”
Quinlan-Williams is the wife of acting Police Commissioner Stephen Williams.
The following is the statement by Daly and Dumas:
We are deeply troubled by a report in last Sunday’s Express newspaper which compares and contrasts the contents of a recording of what took place at a bail hearing before Mrs Quinlan-Williams as a Magistrate in 2009 and what Mrs Quinlan-Williams is reported to have testified at disciplinary proceedings against her arising out of her conduct of that bail hearing. There are also other reported conflicts in the evidence.
This former magistrate has very recently been appointed a High Court judge and we are absolutely satisfied that the public interest requires that the determination of the disciplinary tribunal be released so that the public can be assured of the propriety of the appointment of Mrs Quinlan-Williams to the office of High Court judge.
We are aware that the Judicial and Legal Service Commission (JLSC) reportedly sent Mrs Quinlan-Williams a letter stating that she was “exonerated” nine months after the determination of the charge.
We do not need to dwell on the current controversies surrounding recent judicial appointments and why, as a result, very many citizens will not accept an assurance from the JLSC as being the end of any matter.
In any event a separate and independent tribunal’s determination concerning the charge against Mrs Quinlan-Williams is apparently available. The release of this tribunal’s determination has been previously refused on what appears to be a specious ground, uncaring of the public interest and the repugnancy of closed-door justice.
Mr Justice Carmona—as he then was—now President of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, is said to have been the [one-man] tribunal dealing with the disciplinary charge and to have made his determination perilously close to his elevation to President Designate.
Any further delay in releasing his determination runs the clear risk of bringing his office into an unseemly fray. This would be in addition to increasing the ongoing reputational damage to which recent blunderings of the JLSC have exposed the Judiciary.
We call on the JLSC to release forthwith the tribunal’s determination of the charge and/or charges against Mrs Quinlan-Williams along with any written reasons or report related to it.