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Daly Bread: Beware the ides of March; what might lie in store for CJ Archie

Julius Caesar, the maximum leader of Roman times, was assassinated in the year 44 BC.

The dates in the Roman calendar were denominated differently from the manner to which we are accustomed. The mid-point of every month was known as the ides. Caesar was assassinated on the ides of March, a date corresponding to March 15.

In Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar, the soothsayer (seer man) warned Caesar to “beware the ides of March.”

Photo: An artist’s depiction of the assassination of late Roman Emperor Julius Caesar on the Ides of March.

I am referencing the ides in order to introduce what may be a political sub-plot by means of which the now discredited Chief Justice may be given a soft landing in March 2018, when the term of the current President of the Republic also expires.

Under our Constitution, judges other than the Chief Justice are appointed by the President acting in accordance with the advice of the Judicial and Legal Service Commission (the JLSC).

A Chief Justice cannot be appointed by the JLSC because the Chief Justice is Chairman of the JLSC.  As an alternative to how all other judges are appointed, the Chief Justice is appointed by the President after consultation with the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition.

Some discerning commentators firmly believe that the Government’s reluctance to face up to its responsibility arising out of the allegations against the Chief Justice is driven by a lack of confidence in what appointment the current President might make to the office of Chief Justice after the required consultations. There is genuine concern given the peculiar nature of some of the current President’s decisions during his term.

As a consequence of this, the Government might more easily face up to its responsibility in March 2018 when the current President’s term expires, a few days after the ides.

Photo: President Anthony Carmona (centre) is flanked by Magistrate Marcia Ayers-Caesar (left) and Chief Justice Ivor Archie.
(Copyright Trinidad Guardian)

There is another straw in the wind pointing to the ides of March. There is talk that the Chief Justice is going on extended leave in March. One might discount that as ole talk because who will grant such leave and on what credible grounds? However a report to that effect did appear in a daily newspaper recently.

There may also be dots to be connected between the Chief Justice’s recent trip to the Netherlands and other leaves of absence.

On Thursday last, the Law Association described the continuing silence of the Chief Justice as “nothing short of reckless.” On Friday afternoon, the Chief Justice, after more than a month of stubborn silence, issued a skeletal and obviously incomplete response.

He admits “forwarding some names of needy persons to the Housing Development Corporation (HDC) for consideration as may be appropriate” but omits saying whether he followed up his “forwarding.” He also glaringly omits answering whether he also approached the current Prime Minister for housing for third parties.

Another glaring omission is the failure to answer whether he has had dealings or relationships of any kind with named convicted persons. In the absence of a denial, the  allegations of association with persons convicted by the Courts of which the Chief Justice is head cannot be ignored.

Photo: Chief Justice Ivor Archie (centre).
(Copyright News.Gov.TT)

It therefore remains my position that it would be constitutionally perverse to expect any member of the Judiciary to function with the trust and confidence of the public intact if he has had dealings or relationships of the kind.

I have previously shared with readers the Privy Council’s decision confirming that misbehaviour includes conduct affecting the perceptions of others in relation to the office so that any purported performance of the duties of the office would be widely perceived to be improper.

Interestingly, the canons of judicial conduct expressed by the American Bar Association are also directed to avoiding the appearance of impropriety and the abuse of the prestige of judicial office to advance the personal or economic interests of the judge or of others or to allow others to do so.

The Chief Justice’s purported answers to the allegations cry out for interrogation. The current situation is manifestly destructive of public trust and confidence.

Can the country and the rest of the Judiciary afford to casually await the ides of March to see what resolution of these troubling matters might turn up?

 

Photo: Chief Justice and JLSC chairman Ivor Archie lays a wreath at Memorial Park, Port-of-Spain on 8 November 2009.
(Copyright News.gov.tt)

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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26 comments

  1. “Law Association moves on CJ
    Senior counsel to advise on probe
    ■ Ria Taitt
    ria.taitt@trinidadexpress.com
    THE Law Association of Trinidad and Tobago (LATT) is to retain two senior counsel to advise on whether allegations against Chief Justice Ivor Archie rise to the level of misbehaviour under Section 137 of the Constitution.
    Under Section 137 of the Constitution, proceedings can be initiated for the removal of a Chief Justice for misbehaviour.
    Archie is currently abroad on private business. A date for his return has not been given by the Judiciary.
    In an e-mail communication dated December 18 and signed by LATT secretary Elena Araujo, members were informed that the Council ‘has resolved to retain two senior counsel to advise on the question of whether there is sufficient basis to refer a question of misbehaviour by the Chief Justice to the Prime Minister for his consideration pursuant to Section 137 of the Constitution’.
    The e-mail added: ‘Upon receiving such advice, Council will convene a meeting of the general membership to consider such advice and obtain directions as to the way forward.’
    […]

  2. As a Tobagonian you must have a high position in Trinidad

  3. Once more, from the inane comments I see here, people are missing the forest for the trees. They nitpick at unimportant trivia that have little relevance to the core issues. What are those core issues?

    1) The CJ holds 3 offices:
    a) Chief Justice
    b) Head of the Judiciary
    c) Chairman of the Judicial and Legal Services Commission (JLSC)
    – disrepute to any one of those is disrepute to all.

    2) The CJ has used his office to influence the HDC process. One may argue that he did so in a personal capacity, an argument which is sheer nonsense. The CJ has NO personal capacity. He is CJ 24 hours a day, waking and sleeping. In fact, one may argue that if he wasn’t CJ, then he would have about as much influence at the HDC as Tantie Merle… ergo, any recommendations made were on the basis that he had ‘clout’ because he is the CJ.

    3) Using his office this way is a misconduct of public office.

    4) He has brought all three of his offices into disrepute in the Marcia Ayers-Caesar fiasco. No solution in sight but the fate of 53 charged persons hang in the wind. Justice? Hardly. Aside from judicial impropriety, the entire judicial process is now tainted, uncertain and in breach of the Rule of Law as a direct result of the CJ’s poor judgment and conduct.

    5) The Chief Justice associating with convicted felons is a sure no-no in any part of the world, well, except T&T apparently. The convicted felons using their association with the CJ to scam the public should have brought a swift chastisement, disassociation and a referral to the police by the CJ. After weeks of this being in the public domain, not even a comment by the CJ, much less any actions as I have noted.

    The fact is, the CJ is dug in like an Alabama tick, and nothing short of dynamite appears to be able to move him. But that option will also damage the Judiciary even more than Archie has, so no one appears to want to take that step. One wonders why an official complaint has not been made?

    People seem to attack Daly because he is a ‘rich, white, elite’ man more than a qualified legal mind who is commenting on the seriousness of the issues. They fail to realise that these issues affect every citizen. We are all bound to obey the laws of the country and once that judicial process is affected, so are we all. Just like human rights do not apply to just those breaking the law, neither does the judicial system.

    I am reminded of Lord Selden’s words: “Ignorance of the law excuses no man; not that all men know the law, but because ’tis an excuse every man will plead, and no man can tell how to refute him.” Archie can’t plead ignorance.

  4. Archie is “discredited?” By who? Steups.

    Slow day at the Daly mansion.

  5. Martin Daly well said sir. Thank

  6. Martin Daly is a miserable ole man

  7. here we go again-this tribal thing that people wish on this country.

  8. You r a fool to think that I what I meant God bless u sir and have a good day

  9. The C j is a wise man he does not have to bla bla to his accusers detractors end enemies A wise head keep a still tongue Jesus was led to the slaughter yet He opened not his mouth to defend Himself and that was for us haters murders thieves liers etc etc God help us

  10. Plans to have a Tobagonian PM , CJ Com of police and President.
    I have great respect for my Tobagonian brethren however where you live should not be used as a criteria for selection to public office. If they are all the best and most qualified representative then that’s fine. Let’s wait and see

  11. It all comes down to tribal defense. Sad indeed. Impossibel to get an intelligent discussion going on this land as many ppl have been prejudiced from the cradle.. “pnm/unc tilla ded.”

  12. For the life of me, I can’t understand why people are so upset at anyone asking questions of Chief Justice Ivor Archie. I’m not sure what makes him such a sacred cow.
    I’d think that any public servant should be open to questions about their conduct.

  13. The difference between our Chief Justice and the Carpetbaggers is that he can get a job in the Global Arena.That comes with respect. We can continue maligning everybody worth their salt.

  14. Have people lost confidence in the Judiciary because of the CJ or is their level of confidence still pretty much where it has always been? Which prompts the question, what is/was the population’s level of confidence in the Judiciary?

  15. The society is being managed by people who is sick metally disturbed etc and it ranges from PARENTS TEACHERS RELIGION POLITICANS JUDGES ETC ETC.