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DALY BREAD: Exercising power without legitimacy; why Chief Justice must say “goodbye” not “sorry”

On Thursday last, by a vote of nearly 2 to 1 in the case of each resolution, the members of the Law Association of Trinidad and Tobago, (LATT) the governing body for lawyers, declared their loss of confidence in the Chief Justice. By a similar margin, it dealt with the other members of the Judicial and Legal Service Commission (JLSC) and called on the Chief Justice and his JLSC colleagues to resign.

The vote took place at a special general meeting, which had the largest turnout I have ever seen. Although readers will be familiar with the background, it may be useful to put the meeting in context in order to make the point that this meeting was a key moment in the pursuit of accountability by public officials.

Photo: Chief Justice and JLSC chair Ivor Archie (centre) during the 2011 National Awards.
(Copyright News.gov.tt)

There are two critical components in the exercise of power.  One is the lawful authority to exercise the power. The other is the moral authority that underlies the exercise of that power and which rests on the trust and confidence of the citizens.

The general meeting of LATT was triggered by the exercise of the powers of the JLSC to select and recommend persons for judicial appointment.  That is their lawful authority. However, the JLSC cannot properly exercise that power without a prior exercise of due diligence on the credentials, suitability, standing and availability of the candidates it is considering.

Members of LATT had before them the issue whether the JLSC failed to do due diligence on the former Chief Magistrate when debating the no confidence motion and call to resign resolutions.

An equally important issue was put before the meeting. That was the reaction of the JLSC to legitimate inquiries about what it had done or failed to do and to criticism of its acts and omissions.

When its acts and omissions were first subjected to legitimate inquiries, the JLSC was utterly dismissive. When forced to respond by the continuing pressure of public opinion, it took out a two-page advertisement in the print media and gave further explanations by means of media release and letter.

Photo: President Anthony Carmona (centre) appoints High Court judges Kevin Ramcharan (far left), Marcia Ayers-Caesar (second from left) and Avason Quinlal-Williams (far right) in April 2017.
Also in the photo is Chief Justice and JLSC chairman Ivor Archie.

The explanations were inconsistent in some respects one with the other. More offensively the JLSC never once acknowledged that it had even a share of responsibility for the now notorious debacle of 53 part heard cases having to be started over. The starting over course of action will of course be subject to obvious coming legal challenges.

Every word uttered by or on behalf of the JLSC, set about to blame others or to shirk responsibility. Its words did not contain even a token expression of regret. It is too late for that now.

That wrong and strong attitude has destroyed the public trust and confidence in the JLSC and has resulted in the overwhelming passage of the resolutions of no confidence and call to resign. The Chief Justice and the other members of the JLSC as a result, have lost their moral authority to a degree that they have lost their legitimacy to exercise the constitutional authority entrusted to them.

Lack of diligence and of accountability are quite different matters and not to be confused—as some have attempted to do—with impeachment on the ground of misbehaviour under the Constitution.

The loss of confidence and legitimacy of the JLSC guarantees, if they cling on to office, that any appointments they purport to recommend in the future will be under a cloud and the legitimacy of the appointees will be seriously infected.

Photo: Chief Justice and JLSC chairman Ivor Archie (left) signs a MOU for use of a new automated Case Management Information System. (Copyright Judiciary of Trinidad and Tobago)

We hear that additional promises of recommendations for appointment have already been made. It appears that in one case there may be more of the proverbial water in the judicial brandy applying the famous description of late Chief Justice Isaac Hyatali. I should also mention the current assignment of civil work to judges who have exclusively criminal law experience and who may not have worked with the Civil Proceedings Rules.

The discredited JLSC ought to have mercy on the institutional reputation of the Judiciary. The JLSC members should walk to protect the reputations of those fine and hard working judges we do have.

The Chief Justice’s senior colleagues should be telling him the game is up both in the interest of the country and their own interest. Stability requires that the Judiciary come out of the baleful gaze of a disquieted public and riotous accused.

Another fallout of this debacle is a further painful questioning by the man in the street whether we can be the ultimate guardians of our legal affairs.  This is a bad blow for the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), to which Michael de la Bastide gave a flying start. The CCJ should take careful note of the perils of an “I am the boss” attitude and of breaches of good governance.

This has been a trying time, even for a robust commentator. Many thanks to those whose messages of solidarity have come in pleasing numbers.

Photo: Chief Justice and JLSC chairman Ivor Archie.

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 and a steelpan music enthusiast.

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  1. Nah Lasana, people forget that they were just recently tipping Mr Daly as the next Prez. When the facts don’t suit you narrative, blame others

  2. Deryck you shared and reserved your comments?

  3. will there be a boycott of the opening of the new Law term when announced?

  4. I have been a fan of Mr. Daly’s writings for yrs now. I didn’t always agree with him, but I always respected his point of view, until now. I find this article is full of value judgements n factually weak.

  5. How u know it destroy public confidence.

  6. It’s rather hilarious that the view of many is that half or so of the membership of the LATT is either, racist, has political agendas and are lacking moral authority. I wonder if the public realizes that judges and magistrates come from the LATT pool.

  7. Somone faintin wit a bayonet rifel at d right moment can do d trick

  8. Google A.Ramlogan.G.Ramdeen and others who want persons to resign.

  9. Those who are calling for the Chief Justice and JLSC to go.
    Please “Google” them.
    Nuff said.

  10. Ann, the LATT are not UNC lawyers. You forget the “UNC lawyers” tried to overthrow the LATT some months ago and got a whipping?

  11. the law asses have said nothing to help the people of the tnt they want no improvements they want power onto themselves

    • Voting,calling for transparency and accountability are improvements by the Association. At least the majority did not throw blind support to the entrenched establishment. In my opinion they did not go far enough. The CJ should not head both bodies. Chairmanship of the JLSC should go to a layperson and less former justices should be appointed to the body. It should has more laypersons and attorneys. On appointments and promotion of magistrates etc, advice from senior members of the judiciary and attorneys can be solicited in line with having 360 degree feedback. It must not be left solely to the CJ.

  12. Perhaps there is a subversive agenda by some in the rank and file . But whatever it may be seeks not to improve the erosion and the comedy of errors which continue to plague the judiciary

  13. This is one issue i am confused about . I think on one hand he should resign for the mess the judiciary is in and on the other i am just wondering if there is something big that is about to happen as it relates to charges being brought against person/s ? And thats why there is a push have him out .

    • Even if they (DPP) lays charges against political persons, the case has to stand on its own merit. Once there is sufficient evidence. Ousting the CJ may not necessarily achieve any purpose, as there would be other judges to hear the case.
      And focus on what people like Daly say, as I find him to be neutral, and not on the others who brought the (clearly legitimate) issues to the fore.

    • I’ll watch from the sidelines to see what he does when he comes back into the country .

  14. Should the CJ and JLSC resigned who you putting, the poltical judges who sitting on all Anand, Ramdeen and Sturge cases? only the PM can appoint a Chad Cj Joseph

    • Don’t ask them to vacate their high offices..because they would be replaced by UNC judges ….are suggesting that there are PNM!

  15. two wrongs don’t make aright. the Judiciary has been eroding fr some time now. The mudslinging by lawyers on both side of the political fence is most evident

  16. I believe there were hidden agendas by some.

  17. In Gods hands snd soon the outcome

  18. It is ironic and hilarious at best the LATT has taken a vote of no confidence in the CJ and JLSC and the verve and vigour in which this matter is pursued to have parties accused to resign their tenure . However there are members of that body who have been implicated in alleged criminal and nefarious activities one such member a former AG and others where implicated in investigative matters relating to prisongate et al but there has been no call from the same LATT or other legal luminaries to have these persons or others of the same ilk to be disbarred pending the outcome of there matters given the fact that thier action may have brought the integrity of the legal profession into disrepute and in the case of the former AG may have tarnished the reputation of the office held and the judiciary at large? Until the LATT can address that then in their ambit as the representative body for legal professionals they hold no authority to demand the resignation in this case

  19. That’s how pnm do it. Wrong and strong and never resign.

  20. How many more wrong have been hounded out of office?

  21. State clearly the reason why the CJ must leave and it cannot be that you have a personal grouse. LATT must investigate and discipline all other members who were involved in questionable/ illegal matters.

  22. Why asses does be braying out of time, we are being ruled by farm animals.

  23. It’s the attitude of most authoritative figures in Trinidad…. When I speak no dog bark…..and the dogs take it, put their tails between their legs and retreat

  24. i wonder if the CJ was a different RACE saying the same things if so many people would still support his totalitarianism? like u know if a WHITE man said.. NO, i not moving! how alyuh woulda feel… alyuh does talk bout about trump and venezualas maduro but PNMites no different… they cyah see past color but everyone who stands up for the NATIONS rights and democracy they deem as racist … the PNM government not even respecting alyuh own rights and alyuh still supporting dem? alyuh feel is a game with winners and losers but who really winning when man on d breadline? imagine pnm strongholds start protesting but it still have fools here who just agreeing with whatever bs rowley spit out… anyways its a lawless party with lawless supporters, that is why the crime always highest under PNM… like alyuh eh care if alyuh starve as long as alyuh massa belly full… i want to see who alyuh blaming for this five years… up to now not ONE SINGLE PNM could say how this govt benefit the nation but alll alyuh know is dat alyuh get a BRAND NEW 11yr old stadium dat leaking shit but when u acustomed to SHIT a LATRINE will always be a castle…..

    • Race has been and still is a major issue in this country. Would the CJ have been given so much flac had he been of a different race?

    • Bernadette Millette exactly… if he was white and telling alyuh dat u woulda swallow the pill? Manning was the first minister EVER in the world to give his wife a ministerial post that she was NOT qualified for … nepotism is d PNM trade mark.. the CJ now allow the government to manipulate the justice system, which in not permissible in ANY DEMOCRATIC COUNTRY and alyuh say cool…. a white man telling alyuh that we have NO rights to privacy and seeking to enslave the masses is reason to riot but a black one telling you d same is reason to rejoice? no matter how bad this govt run down the country ppl gone still vote them…and we both know y….

  25. A Chief Justice must be made to leave only for high crimes and insanity, not for an administrative error. As for me, I query the motivations of the protagonists.

  26. Keep the pressure on…….he is a public servant, he work for us, we pay his salary, and we say he mush go. Impeachment, T&T people stand firm…..
    The CJ and the JLSC must GO NOW.
    Prime Minister and AG act now, preserve the constitution.
    If not misbehavior then definitely it is mental health, because poor judgement for that office

    The law states that the office holder can be removed from public office in the case of mental illness or misbehaviour.

    One other judge said, “I am of the view it will be very difficult to have a formal tribunal to prove misbehaviour in public office. This is not really a situation of misbehaviour but a poor exercise of judgement on repeated occasions and that’s a distinction. .

  27. I keep seeing an imaginary pic of Gerald Ramdeen sitting next to Martin Daly in a LATT meeting and it sickens me(lol)

  28. Who then is responsible for dealing with attorneys who have been found wanting?

  29. I would have more confidence in the LATT if they weremore vocal when their own members crossed the moral and legal lines.

  30. Steups . This CJ/JLSC issue is of little importance compared to the billions of dollars being stolen from CLICO policyholders with the blessing of the central bank . Fees totaling 3.2 billion far outweigh the crocodile tears being spilled by the same hypocritical crooked attorneys who benefited from a good portion of the looting .

  31. One thing troubles me,was it left up to the chief magistrate to declare her outstanding cases or should the JLSC have done their own investigation?

  32. The cause asking the solution to move…our problems continue.

  33. There’s a problem with this argument- you don’t lose legitimacy or authority because a group has no confidence in you. For that to happen you have to have lost the support of a broad section of society. Second- I still need help identifying what the allegation against the CJ is- specifically I mean. I see that it’s said he didn’t do due diligence and wasn’t humble- even if right- those aren’t enough for a resignation.

    • Apparently there is a law against arrogance. And poor administration. In short, if you didn’t do your job properly and arrogant with it, you should be fired.

    • Nice summary Rhoda. I, for one, think that is indeed reason for dismissal yes. You’d surely get fired at KFC if you did your job poorly and had a bad attitude on top of it. Lol

    • Btw Justin, how can a Chief Justice be removed? Do the President, Prime Minister and Opposition Leader all have to agree? Or two from three?

    • That’s if you have this discussion blind to the very fundamental need to protect the judiciary Lasana.

    • Lasana Liburd KFC worried about clientele…the Judiciary have more clientele it can deal with.
      Justin raises a valid point about firing Archie…if Rowley had to call for a tribunal…he calling one to investigate what? Poor admin skills? They would end up firing a clerk…not Archie. Poor admin skils is not a crime here. If it was, Duprey would be serving a life sentence for running Clico into the ground. Every Caroni 1975 Ltd manager would be on death row and all of Petrotrin would be in silver bracelets.

    • Thank you Justin Phelps. My point exactly.

    • Thanks for the info, Justin. I’d say if the LATT has declared a lack of confidence then that alone is serious enough for the the President and Prime Minister to create a tribunal.
      Don’t you think so, Rhoda? Justin?
      You see, if they don’t, they run the risk of being accused or arrogantly dismissing the concern of legal professionals too.
      They can then let the tribunal decide.
      Of course the composition of that tribunal would be worth looking at. I doubt very much that the President’s faith in the CJ is anything but strong.

    • No- I think that’s wrong. The basis for removal is not even alleged- which is why the most vocal calls for him to resign have also been careful to say that impeachment doesn’t arise

    • Well- except for Senator Ramdeen per today’s news.

    • Fair enough Justin. But lawyers said they have no confidence in Chief Justice and then just expect all parties to carry on as normal?

    • Lasana Liburd in my unprofessional view, if the LATT wants the CJ to step aside, they have to clearly articulate a grounds. When Sharma was asked to step down it was based on allegations of intefering with an IC investigation.
      With Archie the lacknof confidence is in his administrative skills, from what I am seeing. So, my question is, where is or what is the breach?
      If the issue is administrative we should also be discussing how we want the improvements to be made.
      And then it will come right back to what Archie has said in every speech he has given since 2012 about improved resources for the Judiciary to improve how it is being run. He could easily them blame the govt for his inefficiencies.

    • Yes. I agree with that Rhoda in so much as the LATT should articulate grounds.

    • Lasana Liburd, ive no issue with LATT losing confidence you know. But it passing strange that they had a whole special meeting and not one word about the changes in process they want to see effected so that the judiciary runs better. So remove Archie and keep the messed up admin systems?

    • Good point Rhoda. The LATT should maybe see that meeting as a starting point.

    • And to follow on from that, are pood admin systems legitimate grounds to call for a tribunal?
      And let us say it is…what law/rule/process Archie breached?
      When we break it down in steps and phases there is grounds to boof Archie, but not to fire him.
      So I onboard with the boof, with a view to changing up how the Judiciary operates.

    • I using legitimate there to mean legal…sorry.

    • Also see role and function the LATT. The Association sees as one of its main roles the duty and responsibility to uphold the Constitution and the rule of law. Thus, it is fully committed to doing so by participating in debates to foster the notion of the supremacy of the Constitution and the law as a whole and by commenting on any situation concerning the Constitution.The Association seeks to achieve its goals at all times in the noble tradition of professional independence, integrity, and social responsibility. This should be discuss

    • I think folks are reading too much into LATT’s so-called motion of no confidence. It’s worse than meaningless, except for pappyshow. The purpose of a no-confidence vote is to say that they’ve lost confidence in his ability to lead. The Judiciary might regulate the legal profession, but the CJ himself has no authority or regulatory oversight over LATT, so he does not need their confidence in order to carry out his Constitutional functions.

    • A point I’ve been making. But there’s a trick in it Nigel- that’s not how the vote is being REPRESENTED to the public.

    • I noticed… and commented on the same last week. It’s merely symbolic (and likely political) if anything.

  34. If we talking about lack of moral authority then LATT needs to be focused on the beam in their own eyes. All the former presidents included have a hand to play in the way things currently are. To sit in judgment as though you are an unbiased and neutral observer is wholly disingenuous.

  35. They should get rid of the JLSC…after all the B.S them unc lawyers did and these liars and thieves still practicing law is a disgrace to our legal system….sad

  36. Its amazing how we support that which is wrong…we are truly a third world thinking people

  37. Let’s just say the Law Association is looking at personalities rather than administrative structure here. And instead of the more meaningful business of overhauling what exists now, they simply want to put a marker down for how people in authority should behave.
    Would that alone be considered insufficient to act, Rhoda?

    • The thing is, the problems that have been identified with the appointments of Marcia and Quinlan are not specific to Archie’s tenure. The process for appointing and promoting ppl needs to be improved. And there are lots of other administrative issues that need addressing. Note, we have not heard of any judicial breaches from Archie, just administrative. So, to my mind, it is inadequate to merely ask for Archie and the JLSC to step aside and leave the same systems in place.

    • Archie eh the first CJ to behave as if he above censure. Or the first lawyer…but if he steps aside what ensuring that the next CJ responds to censure if the same systems in place?

    • Rhoda Bharath your comments going down good with my ochro and saltfish cookup.

    • Lance Noel and you eh even say lemme put away a plate for Rhoda?

    • Lol. Allyuh taking this food for thought business quite literally! Personally, I never think it a bad time to act in the interest of the greater good–even if you have failed to do so before.
      Yes, it might leave room for conspiracy theories and so on. But doesn’t necessarily mean the LATT is wrong solely because past CJs got away with this.
      I think the country is becoming less and less tolerant of public institutions. So I expect more and more administrative heads to be squeezed for behaviour that their predecessors got away with.
      Just like Darryl Smith and that Tobago trip, which is chump change compared to bad behaviour by his predecessors but is bad behaviour all the same.

  38. I have a question…LATT and Co gave any suggestions for how exactly they want to see the Judiciary’s administrative functions be improved? Any suggestions for how exactly they want to see transparency and accountibility occur?
    And they issue a statement on Ramdeen and Ramlogan and their respective investigations yet? Because it seems to me when the dust settles on this we asking for ppl to step down (which is fine) but we haven’t articulated what exactly we want changed. #askingforafriend

  39. Learie Roach has it spot on.While what has happened is wrong, consideration must be given to the motives of the person making the most noise ,GeraldRamdeen. We have seen so many indiscretions over the years by some of the major players in our judicial system with nary a word from the law association.One is forced to wonder why all the exhuberance by the law association now.

  40. I agree wholeheartedly with Learie Roach.

  41. Interesting to note that the figures for the no confidence resolutions were notably higher than figures for the resignation resolutions. Seems to suggest a portion still were prepared to keep the CJ and the JLSC. even though they had no confidence.

  42. Prior to the explosion of these appointments which gave life to the issue at hand, what was the system/ criteria used by JLSC in making recommendations to the President for a person as a Judge?. If the ” system” that existed then, is the one and the same that exist now, no chorus of objections have been raised privately or publicly , then it might be safe to conclude that the now collective voices accepted the very said conditions when it suits their purpose. Which now sheds light in a little dark corner, what is the real motivation behind this sudden awareness of fair play/balance and equality?

    • Sometimes the masses accept things because they met them in place and feel that’s just how it is.
      Then something happens to expose the problems with the status quo.
      It might be as simple as that too.

    • Then why not meet with the JLSC with recomendations to improve the system? Will replacing Archie and the JLSC improve the system of choosing judges?

    • I agree with Learie. To me the real resolution of this mess is not to call for a resignation but an overhaul of a process that is clearly flawed but not disastrous. Up until now the system seems to have worked and were it not for Ayres-Caeser not disclosing her case load, it would have worked again.

    • How can the incumbent CJ and JLSC effect any meaningful change if they continue to refuse to accept any responsibility for the current situation. As far as they are concerned they did nothing wrong.

    • What are the law associations recommendations for improving the present system?

    • Even relying on the say so of a candidate is utter madness. Further , to suggest that it is the sole responsibility of a sitting Magistrate to manage all matters over which they are presiding is a clear recipe for human error and disaster. Rather than call for blood, re- examine the system in its present configuration and fix it.

    • Same thing I wondering. What if the woman had dropped down or fallen gravely ill? What happens to the cases anyway? Can’t they be handed over to peers like if you on a project at work and you get a promotion?

    • Lasana Liburd you have pointed to the issue at hand. We are a young country and when things prop up we sometimes realize that rules we have in place are contributing to our problems. My main issue is that the CJ cannot be the head of the Judiciary and the Chairman of the JLSC. We have created a maximum leader in one independent arm of government. Why haven’t we seen that something is wrong with this arrangement is alarming to me. In the UK they are struggling with a similar issue of appointments to the judiciary. Their JLSC has been reconstituted and is currently chaired by a layperson. The body is made up of about 50% laypersons, with the remainder being from the legal fraternity( lawyers and judges) as far as I am aware. The appearance of bias of the CJ was reduced tremendously by these changes.

  43. Rose-Marie, Martin Daly was relentless and clearly there were many other others who felt aggrieved. Maybe we can learn something from how they have stuck to their guns and refused to be distracted here.
    Not that Ivor Archie tried hard enough to distract them or build bridges anyway.

    • I’m trying to remember if the first we heard of this fiasco was when Mr. Daly spoke out or if it was when the accused appeared in court and protested. I know he’s been at the forefront of the calls for the JLSC to man up. But would anybody have known something was amiss if the accused did not make a scene in court? And what would have happened in the past? I’m thinking there must be a process whereby a magistrate being considered for promotion must be able to gracefully wind up outstanding cases and hand over the rest. If the woman had fallen Ill or heaven forbid just dropped down….what would have happened to those 53 cases?

    • Many aggrieved had no moral authority to call on anyone to resign.

    • But is moral authority relevant? If we used that as a yardstick, we might find nobody had a right to demand anything.
      And that’s not to say that I believe the LATT has no moral authority.

    • Other than this particular issue, as serious as it is, is there any other issue with the CJ?

      For me, they mismanaged the magistrate’s transition but let’s remember that Ivor Archie did not put those decades old procedures in place. Let’s also remember that Mrs Ayers-Caesar is also complicit in this fiasco.

      I do agree however, that if the concerns of the lawyers and public at large were properly addressed, then maybe we would not have reached this far.

      I, and others, are also asking the question, “What is the real motive of the Law Association?” No one looks to lawyers as pillars of ethics and moral authority, quite the opposite actually!

      As Patrick Manning himself realized, it is not a simple matter to remove a CJ from office. The next best thing is asking him to step down but that will be at his own perogative and that does not seem forthcoming.

      The CJ stepping down also does not solve the problem at hand…

      1. What is Mrs Ayers-Caesar status so the DPP can move forward one way or the other with the 53 cases.

      2. Put a proper transition program in place so that magistrates can move seamlessly to the judicial bench when appointed.

      My last thought… President Clinton was not impeached for his affair with Monica Lewinsky, he was impeached for lying about it to the people.

      Likewise, rhe initial problem that led to this fiasco with the CJ is not grounds enough to ask for the CJs resignation. But how he handles this unfolding drama just might lead to his downfall.

    • Ezra that makes sense to me.

    • Although we ought to point out that the attempt to remove Clinton on that grounds failed.

    • Lasana Liburd Congress absolved Clinton.

  44. That your opinion. Not ow ere’s. Shouter Baptist Community.

  45. Chief Justice Ivor Archie was yesterday defiant and dismissive in his response in the face of an unprecedented vote of no confidence in him by the Law Association and calls for him to step down.

    “I don’t think you can expect any resignation,” he said when contacted by the T&T Guardian in Barbados, where is attending a law conference co-hosted by the Canadian government and Barbados Bar Association.

  46. Just imagine if those 53 affected accused did not raise a stink all of this was destined to be swept under the carpet.

    • We know that was not happening, though! Lol

      • Nobody talks about if the appointment had deeper deficiencies like a lie about the rigorous process? How deep is Archie and JLC’s breach it really could be total deceit of the whole stream of events and the Nation. Remember Mc Cathy and ” all ah we thief” so nobody to lock up unless is everybody? Then my friends where or when do we start to make T&T better? That was 30 odd years ago. Even when the adulterer was forgiven as no one could throw stones Chist did retort and said go repent and sin no more . We have forgiven enough and still sin after sin by the Judiciary . What next same old same them even you all here should SHUT UP