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Law Association defends Justice Seepersad against political bias allegations, scolds media

“We urge the Registry to take steps to ensure that any such suspected attempts at forum shopping are immediately brought to the attention of the judiciary so that remedial action can be taken.

“We ask the print media to be mindful that blindly repeating what is being peddled on social media […] which, unless substantiated, could only serve to undermine public confidence in the judiciary.”

The following statement was sent to the media by Law Association of Trinidad and Tobago (LATT) president Douglas Mendes:

Photo: Justice Frank Seepersad.
(Copyright Caribbean National Weekly)

The Law Association strongly depreciates any suggestion of political bias on the part of Justice Frank Seepersad.

He is not responsible for nor has any control over the assignment of cases to his docket. That is done randomly through an electronic system administered by the High Court Civil Registry. Neither can any inference be properly drawn from the alacrity with which he approaches the judicial functions or the efficiency with which he discharges them.

The possibility that an attorney may seek to manipulate the system by filing and re-filing proceedings until it is assigned to a judge of his liking is also beyond the particular judge’s control.

We urge the Registry to take steps to ensure that any such suspected attempts at forum shopping are immediately brought to the attention of the judiciary so that remedial action can be taken.

We ask the print media to be mindful that blindly repeating what is being peddled on social media serves only to legitimise the unsubstantiated statements of persons who are not bound by a journalistic code of ethics. Tweets and social media posts may not be credible sources of news.

Otherwise responsible members of the profession and society as a whole ought also to desist from posting, re-tweeting, sharing or circulating online messages which, unless substantiated, could only serve to undermine public confidence in the judiciary.

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23 comments

  1. I have repeatedly said thy movies are made after people and for all of us who watch Law stories on TV , we know that lawyers go to judges who they are familiar with and who would give them what they want . In this corrupt society and the behaviours of lawyers/judges for the last 10 years, you have to convince me that collusion is not present re Seepersad and Ramlogan and his cabal. You want to convince us that with all the judges in T&T all this is coincidental. You only need a phone call to a friend/family working in the various offices of the Judiciary office to assign cases. The explanation provided is like water in a basket. It has holes and is leaking

  2. It’s one thing to have incorrect labels placed on you.
    It’s quite the other to LEAVE the INCORRECT label unchallenged.

  3. I say, it’s time to see if it can be substantiated. Time for the chips to fall and clean up to begin.

  4. Can the PM and the AG please identify which judges they are comfortable with and which they are not comfortable? It may assist the judiciary in assigning cases to be heard and it will help the population to better understand which ones according to this government have a political bias because there are even some grassroots persons who make claims of political victimization and it leaves one to assume that even their cases ought to receive similar consideration.

  5. 1. The quick overturning of Frank’s rulings and the oral statements given by the judges opens up questions about Frank’s rulings.
    2. Ramlogan’s explanations raises questions about forum shopping.
    3. Apparently only LATT allowed to question the judiciary and threaten its independence. The rest of us have to put our fingers on our lips.

    • Yeah. If anything, the Law Association should be providing answers to our public concerns. I’d agree with that.

    • Old boys club, they mot serious about public concern and confidence, they must maintain the status quo. While attorneys delaying cases and not following billing guidelines set out by said association, costing clients tons of money. Some Junior attny charging SC rates because they on TV everyday, so much wrong with that hustle. The crime situation is a boom for some, as someone said a good majority of the cases in the lower court are being dealt with by a few attnys . So is adjournment after adjournment for years, the CJ alone cant fix it especially with no support from all concerned.. what suggestions have the Law Association made to improve the mess we are seeing everyday?

  6. To hell with the LATT, they should tell us why the issue with one of their lawyers who admitted that he withheld, for almost two years, money paid to a client that he was representing. When you have this ambivalence in dealing with lawyer issues would lead to a mistrust of the LATT.

    • To be honest, I wish someone would clarify this issue. I heard that this attorney was on a radio programme and indicated that he was cleared in that matter. Not sure about the details, however.
      But at the same time, I read about another situation and that attorney was referred to the LATT, why wasn’t that done in this instance?

    • Nerisha Mohammed Exactly, and that is the problem, the ambivalent way in which the LATT handles issues.

    • Which is why I make a distinction in my analysis.
      In fairness to the current executive, which is fairly new, they seem to be asking for some accountability.
      The LATTs silence in the recent past on matters of national interest did not do much to instill confidence in the public in the judicial system or its practitioners.

  7. Earl Best

    When the Fourth Estate behaves in such a way as to draw a public rebuke not from the Executive or the Legislature but from the Judiciary, you know that things really brown.

    This release does not come from Sturge or Ramdeen but from Douglas Mendes, about whose probity there has so far been, I make bold enough to say here, NO question.

    And he singles out the print media for special mention: “We ask THE PRINT MEDIA to be mindful that blindly repeating what is being peddled on social media serves only to legitimise the unsubstantiated statements of persons…”

    I telling allyuh, Mark, Ashford, Garth, irving, Camille, ask not for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee!

    Crapaud smoke allyuh pipe!

  8. Excellent and responsible statement by LATT and I am happy for it.

  9. “[…] which, unless substantiated, could only serve to undermine public confidence in the judiciary.”

    You don’t have to wait long Nerisha…

    The Law Association has me a bit perplexed. LAST WEEK, did they themselves not try to undermine public confidence in the judiciary by passing their five motions?

    Did they not call for the CJ and JLSC to resign as soon as Marcia Ayers-Caesar was appointed?

    Why are they so quick to lampoon the CJ but even faster to absolve Frank Seepersad of any wrongdoing whatsoever?

    Last week they’re attacking the CJ and the JLSC and this week they’re defending a High Court Judge. Mind you, and luckily so, their mutterings, sorry, opinions have no weight in law. More bark than bite!

    As for the jibe at social media, it’s not every day I can quote via KPB so… “vox populi, vox dei”!!!

    • Ezra Joaquim, once we establish the CJ is the head of the judiciary. As such, it is his responsibility -and duty-to ensure the smooth running of the system. So, even if we argue that nothing untoward took place up to the appointment of Marcia Ayers-Caesar, even if we admit that the CJ did not have responsibility to verify no of cases outstanding-that would also be admitting that he does not check reports submitted to him, as from what I read, there is a report submitted-,his handling of the matter thereafter raised concerns. 53 matters outstanding to be heard de novo. And the response from Sophia Choate also raised concerns about how this decision came about. Again, keep in mind this person’s position and function.
      And tell me that a reasonable person is going to find the series of events does not at least call into question the CJs discretion, at the very least.
      Moreover, I am sure the CJ has the discretion to seek legal advice on precedent on how to handle the issue of the outstanding cases, which if communicated, would probably have left some confidence in ordinary citizens, and his immediate stakeholders, for the system.
      Now, on to Justice Seepersad, who is simply a member. He does not assign cases to himself. The system and registry is supposed to protect him against such accusations.
      The question that comes to my mind, then, is the issue with his previous judgments, or with cases coming before him?
      Because it seems many are co-mingling the two issues.

    • This post is about the Law Association, their antics in the whole affair.

      I have argued against the CJ and JLSC but not them personally! I’ve argued against the procedures or process in place. Attacking the office holder does not change the vetting process nor does it guarantee that another fiasco like this won’t happen. Notice, nobody is talking about addressing the 53 cases! If this continues they will all be dismissed! The DPP is still waiting!

      My point under this thread is that, in my opinion, the Law Association is already guilty of undermining public opinion in the Judiciary. They attacked the CJ one minute and defending Seepersad the next minute, and then admonishing YOU for having an opinion in THIS forum about it.

      Who the heck is them that only they can seek to sway public opinion and everybody else should just “whine and hush”?

      On the surface, they are a body of lawyers. But know that their association is not part of the constitution. Nothing in our Constitution refers anything to the Law Association of Trinidad and Tobago. They, like everybody else in this country, are entitled to their opinion and that’s all their motions are, their opinion.

      For me, in my opinion, their executive seems bent on serving their own interests and not that of the country.

      Where are the suggestions to solving our problems?

      BTW, Senior Counsel, (SC), don’t carry the same weight as it used to since “themselves awarded themselves silk”!

  10. Waiting for the attacks against the LATT, which by the way, this is a fairly new executive.
    So Stuart Young worked in Mendes’ chambers. Sharon Rowley works in Daly’s chambers.
    Yet these two respected SCs would allow themselves to be swayed by politics or opinions? I think not. They have earned the right for their opinions to be respected, even if we disagree.
    So, yes, maybe they need to review their system in the Registry, as this said system is supposed to protect judges against said accusations.