One of the pillars of the administration of justice is the principle that open justice is fundamental to the rule of law and democratic accountability. That principle reaches its highest expression in judicial review cases and constitutional motions.
The whole purpose of such cases is to put the processes by which the State and its various arms arrive at decisions under the scrutiny of the Courts. Such scrutiny is necessary in circumstances where it appears there may have been maladministration.
Before Mr Justice Harris is the judicial review application of Marcia Ayers-Caesar against the Judicial and Legal Commission (JLSC) to which the Attorney General is also a party. This application will test whether Marcia’s resignation as a judge was legally effective. Happily, contrary to what had been floated in the media, there will be no secret trial of this judicial review application.
In order to proceed with her case, Marcia will first have to receive the leave or permission of the Court to do so. That initial decision is two months away.
Unhappily, the persons involved in the 53 cases left part-heard were largely being ignored by the authorities. As an editorial in the Trinidad Express newspaper on last Thursday emphasised, the potential for damage to confidence in the judiciary as a whole is very real—as I have been saying all along.
Now the Attorney General has come up with a legislative plan to attempt to salvage the situation. At least somebody is trying something but the sad fact is that those who caused the disaster have refused to take any responsibility.
As also pointed out in the editorial, there “should be the holding to account of those responsible for landing T&T in this mess”—as I have also been insisting from the outset, regardless of the derision towards to me from a few haters.
Better to receive some derision than to remain spinelessly silent.
It is not possible in this column to critique the proposed legislation in detail. Let us hope, however, that no disconnect emerges between the contents of the legislation and what the Courts decide in Marcia’s judicial review application.
It is imperative, therefore, that the Attorney General does not blow hot and cold on the urgency of the situation. There is an inconsistency between going to Parliament urgently with the legislation but permitting the judicial review case to move at a leisurely pace.
As indicated, the leave stage of the application is two months away from a decision. There has to be equal urgency between the legislative action and the Court action.
There was other disturbing news from the Courts last week. The Industrial Court awarded a hefty sum of damages to a dismissed worker. Such is the impotence of the State in the face of banditry that an application was made to withhold the identity of the successful litigant for fear that she might be targeted by criminals.
This is disturbing but perhaps understandable when the police high command wish to relegate the assessment of the performance of the Police Service by reference to its abysmal detection rate.
On the other and positive side of Trini life, I can confirm that our creative talents have become even sharper. I refer to the BIG 5 Concert held in the Savannah two Saturdays ago.
Let me first disclose to readers that, along with some others, I have been asked to be an adviser to the group. I do not consider that such an engagement disqualifies me from commenting on the concert. That is part of what advisers do, especially when they have a long declared and passionate love for the steel orchestra.
It must be acknowledged there were some problems with the sound and the quality of the live stream. The major significance of this concert was its demonstration that five bands could play with a start time of 7:00pm and finish before 11pm.
I readily appreciate that the logistics of Panorama are quite different. However, the pleasure that the audience took in hearing five bands with varied repertoires in a reasonable space of time must compel us to re-arrange Panorama so that only prime bands play in prime time.
This concert also confirmed the full orchestral capability of the bands in that they can integrate other musical instruments with the steel pan and regularly perform with accomplished singers.
We have to do some work on our concert etiquette. There were many conversations taking place while the bands were playing. These conversations were audible when gentler pieces of music were being played.
In a perfect Trini paradox, part of the audience were unhappy with the conductor of Trinidad All Stars turning around and attempting to wait for silence before playing a classical piece in an outstanding fashion. Yet when the piece was finished, it was lustily applauded.
Even though beleaguered by horrible problems, Trini good yes.