Home / View Point / Martin Daly / Daly: Justice must be open to scrutiny; Law Association should continue Archie probe

Daly: Justice must be open to scrutiny; Law Association should continue Archie probe

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.

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

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.

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. I predict that leave for judicial review will be granted and an injunction will be issued restraining the Law Association from proceeding to take any step of an inquistorial nature against the Honourable Chief Justice, this should not mean that the Law Association cannot complain to the Prime Minister about the alleged actions of the Hon CJ. , It means that the CJ is not under an obligation to respond to the LA. I have not been privy to the no doubt brilliant and novel arguments of the noble lawyers but in my view, the Law Association has a free speech argument and cannot be restrained from making a complaint against the CJ to the Prime Minister. What the Law Association cannot do is demand the CJ answer the allegations, as the Chief Justice is not answerable to them. The CJ as a constitutional matter is only answerable to a section 137(3) tribunal . But the LA can circumvent this by simply sending a complaint to the PM copy it to the CJ and invite his response to deal with the “audi alteram” or fair hairing rule.One wonders why this was not done in the first place.

  2. Lasana Liburd, To keep people like me in line. lol lol Just kidding.

  3. To my mind Martin Daly gives his opinion when asked.Maybe Ben Nel should ask him about who he Ben Nel knows is corrupt, with supporting evidence.

  4. Thank you, sir. Your comments are well accepted and respected. No one is above the law including but not limited to CJ Archie. His office is not debarred from investigations and scrutiny.

  5. So, where’s the rationale? Mr Daly has not shown what jurisdiction the Law Association has in investigating the CJ. Did they hire him? Can they fire him? Why cant the Law Association allow the State’s apparatuses in place to deal with the CJ IF the allegations have merit?
    Also, are there new allegations? Because I recall the CJ issuing a statement, in which he refuted ALL the allegations. If there are persons who have contradictory information, it’s not the Law Association’s responsibility to conduct ANY investigation, they should take that information up the relevant channels, which is not the Law Association. This piece from Daly is simply contributing to the witch hunt over his perceived sexual orientation; not a single person, including Mr Daly, has produced a single piece of evidence of wrongdoing from the CJ. If the Law Association wishes to be taken seriously, they need to di something about Senator Ramdeen who was recently reprimanded for representing a dead man for over a year. That case is over and Ramdeen is still functioning.

    • If there is not a shred of evidence against the CJ then I’d expect the CJ and his supporters would welcome this probe to put all the speculation to rest.
      It is curious that they do not seem to see it that way.
      Whatever his orientation might be is a red herring. Nobody is investigating his orientation.

    • Probe conducted by…??? The question remains, on what basis is the Law Association an investigative body? The last i checked, the justice system in Trinidad and Tobago is not run by FIFA, the Law Association cannot just claim investigative powers ?.
      You’re right, no one is investigating his orientation nor anything else, because there is nothing to investigate! An allegation was made, Archie refuted the allegation, if there is more, take it where is should be. Thats NOT the job of the Law Association. It would be great of some could publish the Constitution of the Law Association so EVERYONE could understand their role and responsibility. Can you get that for us, Lasana?

    • If the CJ just cowers to the Law Ass, when does it end, will they go after judges for their perceived preferences. This will be a bad precedent. If allowed we will regret this..

      • Lasana,

        I feel like stick break in some of these readers’ ears, or they get a splinter in the eye so they can’t see to read… Many people commenting because they ‘feel’ some way about the issues, either pro or con re: Archie. But that is not how things work in the legal world.

        • Lasana Liburd

          I really don’t get why people are so emotional about the CJ. He doesn’t even have PNM or UNC on his chest, which would have made it easier to understand.

          • Well, it matters not whether he is for or against one or the other; what matters, and I dare say most to the 53 persons whose access to justice was brought to a screeching halt in the Marcia mess. Seems like everyone forgot them… Does no one find it unfair that after waiting for almost 10 years in some cases, or possibly more, that all matters needed to be started de novo?

            I am ’emotional’ in this regard. Or is it because they are ‘little black boys’ that their lives have less value? I am not sure that what happened to them fits with the rule of law or even the Constitution.

            None of those commenting here seems to have any idea of just how monumental that cock-up was. That mess will take years to sort out. Not to mention the money that will need to be paid out if the law finds in the favour of these prisoners if it is determined that their rights were breached.

            And as I mentioned earlier, if the JLSC was illegal at the time, any appointments made during the period is suspect, as were decisions made by those so appointed, as they will not have had the authority to back up those decisions.

            The reason why Daly is keeping on this issue is that it is of the Constitutional importance. Detractors who comment about Gerald Ramdeen and other corrupt lawyers, fail to see the difference in the two situations. With Archie, it is a matter affecting the constitution itself. With Ramdeen, it is a criminal/civil matter within the bounds of established law.

            When the public does not understand the legal aspects of a situation, we see inane comments like those from ‘Zen’ and ‘Thomas’.

    • Richard Zen O’Brien most likely the Law Association is the investigative and/or disciplinary body for the legal fraternity and judiciary.

    • Richard a few years ago, MATT initiated a probe after the then Judy Raymond-headed association issued some suspect statements about matters at the Trinidad Guardian where she was also editor.
      MATT can’t lock anyone up either but that was seen as proactive and an attempt to safeguard its reputation.

    • Can anybody articulate for me want the CJ has done that warrants this kind of “mountainous” action?? Just asking…

    • Nigel S. Scott, ‘most likely’ doesnt cut it in the legal profession. It’s either they are or they arent and Mr Daly or any lawyer could fix that by producing the Law Association’s constitution. Lasana, it goLasana Liburdhout saying the Law Association and MATT are two separate entities, but ill make a comparison. At the conclusion of MATT’s investigation, was Ms Raymond fired from the Guardian? Could MATT revoke her journalism credentials? Of course not because they are neither her employer nor the authoritative body of the profession! These bodies have no power, except within their own organizations. The only thing MATT and the Law Association could do is probably kick them out of their own organizations, thats it. Both could picl and choose which lawyers they want to ‘investigate’ or not, which begs the question, why hasn’t the Law Association launched an investigation on Senator Gerard Ramdeen??

      • How short memories are. Ramdeen was brought before the courts already and twice reprimanded… of course, that is a discretion given to the judicial officer hearing the case…. whether it is a Magistrate or Judge, I can’t remember at this time. He was given a Bligh, in my opinion.

    • Thomas Armoogan, no one has any answers to that. All they have is seemingly embarrassing interactions between the CJ and a male and certain factions were hoping that was enough for have the CJ resign out of shame and others just jumped on the bacchanal bandwaggon. Outside of that, not an allegation had been made, not a shred of evidence has been produced.

      • “Archie has trespassed upon the good name of his office in several matters: Chief Magistrate’s appointment fiasco; recommending persons for HDC housing (attempting to subvert or influence a legal process); recommending a known criminal to a sitting judge with instructions for the judge to ‘find’ employment for that person (again, a serious transgression for those who do not know); a close relationship with another known felon in which he attempted to assist the felon with his influence…”

        I risk having to repeat myself ad nauseam as it seems ‘stick break in allyuh ears’ as the local saying goes.

    • You know, the law ass seems to be a UNC arm, I can’t even remember them making a statement and condemnation on section 34. Issues that they needed to make a statement on they just remain silent. Has Mr Daly persisted on the other issues..

    • The current members of the Law Association were not even in office for Section 34. But when you go into the “you have to criticise this before you can criticise that” argument, it just gets silly I think.
      Usually people say “allyuh always going after the small man, why not the big fish?” Unless you like the big fish. Then it is “why bother nice Archie? why not go after some regular lawyers?”
      The LATT cannot arrest Archie. Maybe all the more reason why nobody should be intimidated by the probe.

    • How did Section 34 get into this? And even if they were not in office at the time does that mean they cant look into it? .. and it’s not that “you have to criticise this before you can criticise that” .. its about consistency. If there is a concern about the profession and standards, how could they ignore Ramdeen? Unlike Archie, there IS evidence.. again, he was reprimanded!!

    • Again, Lasana Liburd, what is it they are supposed to ‘go after’ with Archie?

    • Richard Zen O’Brien Armoogan mentioned Section 34. The list of issues have already been published and Archie was asked to respond and declined. So they are looking for their own answers.

    • Again, didnt Archie issue a statement? What answers are they looking for?

    • If you reproduced Archie’s statement here you’d probably see for yourself.
      I’m not hot and bothered you know. I am neither pro-Archie nor anti-Archer. I’ve nothing against the man at all.
      But I am all for accountability. If your fellow man feels there are questions to be answered, then answer them.

    • I saw his statement. He answered the questions. What else do they need?

    • Richard, you can share his statement here and we can have a look together. Clearly they were dissatisfied. And I haven’t seen a statement from Archie that I felt was satisfactory either. But then I am not the LATT and maybe I missed one.

    • I wonder how many lawyers in the Law Association, including Mr Daly, would allow any of their clients to do what they want Archie to do.

    • Then perhaps they wish to test the veracity of his claims.

  6. One has to wonder why Martin Daly didn’t push for a probe on other attorneys who led questionable lives. Is there an agenda behind the scenes. Just asking.

    • Maybe because their actions don’t impact on the judiciary in quite the same way? The CJ is also the Head of the Bar, the President of the Judicial and Legal Services Commission and therefore as the holder of three top offices, he must be held to a higher standard than others. But more than that, he has the ability (and potential) to influence… just think of the tremendous ‘power’ and authority he wields and you will see.

      I dare say that the 53 affected persons in the Marcia mess are not the only victims… their lawyers will have extra work without fees, their families are affected, the law itself is being changed in an unknown way with no one able to predict a solution or how to move forward. Everything in that mess is stagnated to the point where it appears the Privy Council will end up sorting out a mess Archie created (we know not which Office he holds was involved), at what can only be the expense of time and money to those who didn’t make the mess.

      You need to put aside your emotional investment and look beyond the trees for the forest… what is the bigger picture that is missing? It appears from the emotional diatribes I have read here that most, if not all of the people, do not understand the way the law works and why Archie is in a fine mess.

  7. Is this argument about who is in the lodge and who is not ?????

  8. I have said it once, and I will say it again. The ‘powers-that-wanna-be’ in Trinidad and Tobago do not appreciate the political and legal system they adopted.

    The Westminster system, which is what they adopted after Independence, is based not only upon the common-law, and legislation (statute) but also upon conventions dating back centuries. Conventions of course, are not enforceable, except by shame or public pressure. It is why the ‘less-than-Honourable Archie can dig in like the proverbial Alabama tick.

    Archie has trespassed upon the good name of his office in several matters: Chief Magistrate’s appointment fiasco; recommending persons for HDC housing (attempting to subvert or influence a legal process); recommending a known criminal to a sitting judge with instructions for the judge to ‘find’ employment for that person (again, a serious transgression for those who do not know); a close relationship with another known felon in which he attempted to assist the felon with his influence…

    The problem is not that Archie is above scrutiny. The problem is that the scrutiny comes in the form of conventions, where in England or other Commonwealth countries, the CJ so embattled would be forced to resign or step aside while an investigation takes place. In Trinidad though, that ‘ent’ happening, as we can all see. The question is whether there is alternatively a legal process to bring the CJ to account for his behaviour…

    I have a suggestion… what if the Law Association determines that Archie is guilty of misconduct in office… and strips him of his licence? If he’s not a lawyer, then he will not be able to be CJ.

    I have no doubt about one thing though… if Archie’s challenge reaches the Privy Council, the judges will be laughing at the ineptitude displayed by the PM et al.

  9. Whenever I agree with Daly I always recheck my opinion, and having done so I think that Daly is right but far too polite and muted. The Law Association queries on Archie are too limited. In my view Archie should be investigated for his imprudent spending on travelling and collaterally the invesigations into the shooting of Dillan Johnson should also be investigated…

  10. I think Daly is on to something here

    The whole judiciary and its conduct for the past 30years should be reviewed

    Some prosecutions may be forthcoming

  11. Ahhh. Ok Kyon. But easier to maintain a discipline with closed group. Lol.

  12. Why is Daly trying so hard to persecute the CJ? There are so many corrupt individuals in the law fraternity and not a peep from him. He only seems to have a hate for ppl of African descent while he parades himself as being a lover of the Trni-African culture. Big STEUPS to hypocritical Daly.

    • So you’re saying it is better to go after the peewats than the big fish? Just because of race?

    • What is the CJ’ crime? Nothing but pure speculation, conjecture and allegations. I said nothing about peewats or big fish that’s your unfortunate interpretation and bears no truth to the reality of my statement. Yes I believe that there is a strong racial element in Daly’s pursuit of the current CJ. There was a past CJ where there were very strong allegations and not a word from Daly then or now. I’m of the belief that ANYONE regardless of their status in life must be brought before the courts if they have broken the law. What law has the CJ allegedly broken, what proof exists, why is this man being persecuted without the basic elements of natural justice.

      • I quote myself:

        “Archie has trespassed upon the good name of his office in several matters: Chief Magistrate’s appointment fiasco; recommending persons for HDC housing (attempting to subvert or influence a legal process); recommending a known criminal to a sitting judge with instructions for the judge to ‘find’ employment for that person (again, a serious transgression for those who do not know); a close relationship with another known felon in which he attempted to assist the felon with his influence…”

        These are serious allegation which demands a full investigation… which is all that the LATT is attempting to do.

    • Ben if the CJ has broken no law then he should not fear a probe.
      The more probes the merrier. Of course the probes shouldn’t end with the CJ. But I see no reason to give him a pass because he is black or because you think he is innocent.

      • Ben misses the obvious:

        An investigation is not only to establish guilt but can also establish non-guilt of the alleged perpetrator. One wonders if the real reason Archie is resisting so strongly is that he knows he is guilty and therefore does not wish to risk the absolute truth rearing its head?

    • Sir, I said it’s based on allegations, conjecture and speculation and I don’t know if he is afraid of a “probe” as I don’t know him , never met and don’t move in the legal fraternity. Why isn’t Daly addressing the various allegations of corruption in the legal stem, in the police service or in the political arena. Note that I did not call any political party although I won’t be surprised if you ascribe my comment to any particular political party. I’m all about fairness and law abiding citizens not about personal vendetta based on ethnicity. I ask again of Daly, probe what? What law has he broken, what vow has he breached? I’m yet to find out, maybe Daly knows something others don’t, if that be the case then let him have the cajones and come out publicly and say so and stop those ridiculous hidden agendas.

    • Ben I’m not trying to guess your political allegiance. Why tell Daly which corruption to go after? All corruption is bad. If Archie is innocent then Daly and company would turn their attention elsewhere.
      And Archie has threatened legal action to have Law Association stop probe. I’m not sure if you read letter.
      I’m not picking a fight. I’m just trying to understand why people would be worked up about anyone initiating a probe or supporting one.
      Either Archie is innocent or guilty. That’s all. What’s the problem?

    • The problem is the hidden agenda of Daly and others. I’m still trying to understand what is the alleged corruption and why is anyone trying to tarnish the image and reputation of another person with no evidence. This probe that you speak of is only to determine if in fact there is any evidence. In other words the battle is starting from the end and not from the beginning as far as Daly and his cohorts are concerned. Mind you if this battle was against any other ethnic grouping based on the basis of no evidence I would have been just as strong in my condemnation as I am now. It’s just that in this case Daly’s slip is showing.

      • The probe is to establish the veracity of the evidence that is already in the public domain. No doubt you have missed the evidence referred to by the reporters who broke the stories on the CJ’s interference in several matters. One wonders why the CJ didn’t send preaction letters to the newspapers or alternatively, sue for defamation after the publication of the stories…

    • Ben I think the case against Daly has been made for months now. You may not agree. Others do. So a probe might clear that up.

    • Others with an agenda, yes I agree on that. How come there is no probe against a certain attorney who was representing a deceased client and receiving instructions or that same attorney receiving court damages on behalf of an imprisoned client and not informing that client. Oh there are so many instances of proven unethical or alleged criminal behavior with no probe. Hmmmm interesting!

    • Ben Nel, I’d absolutely support a probe on all dishonest attorneys. And I think because of his public position, Gerald Ramdeen should be very high on that list.

  13. While they are at it,let them probe Gerard Ramdeen and others of that ilk.

  14. Daly should deal with the characters who lead the charge. Archie can easily expose bias that some these lawyers held.

  15. But who is them to conduct any investigation though? This is a next case of “the powers you think I have… etc” stupidness.

    Will the Law Association’s findings or reports have any legal implications for the CJ? The answer is no!

    They are a body of lawyers, crabs in a bucket types no less, silk onto themselves, gallerying as if they have “powers”. Maybe, just maybe, the bacanal started when the CJ gave back his silk! Maybe, jus maybe, he didn’t join that cabal afterall and the crabs in the bucket still bitter! I wonder if they had offered Dana silk as well!

  16. Then the whole judiciary need to be audited lol