For many months, I have been commenting on the likely damage to the Judiciary first as a result of the fiasco of the appointment and purported resignation of Marcia Ayers-Caesar as a High Court Judge and, shortly after that, separate allegations about the conduct of the Chief Justice.
Somewhat belatedly but welcome nonetheless, the Law Association stirred itself to examine and ultimately comment on the conduct issues. It has now received a threat of litigation from the Chief Justice if it continues its work. The Association has commendably declared its intention to resist the threat.
The Chief Justice cannot be placed above the scrutiny of citizens or representative bodies. That is in essence the response of the Law Association to the threat of the Chief Justice to seek the assistance of the Court to restrain the Association from examining and expressing its view as to whether there is a case for Section 137 of the Constitution to be triggered.
In my view, any attempt to halt scrutiny of the allegations against the Chief Justice would be an attempt to set the clock back 80 years to the time when a contempt of Court verdict was rendered against the editor of the Trinidad Gazette for criticism of a judicial decision. The verdict was thrown out by the Privy Council in a decision containing the famous dictum that Justice is not a cloistered virtue and must be open to unfettered scrutiny.
Surely the dictum applies with equal force to scrutiny of the administration of justice and its personnel as it does to decisions of the Courts.
We must not go back to or remain in the dark ages of lack of accountability. We must stimulate a culture of actions having consequences if consequences are warranted.