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Daly Bread: Commissioner Griffith, Chief Justice Archie and rationalising to death

A significant number of persons, including those who have deluded themselves, have written about the habit of rationalisation. Ayn Rand, the philosopher, wrote: “Rationalisation is a process of not perceiving reality, but of attempting to make reality fit one’s emotions.”

It is too early to make an assessment whether Gary Griffith will make a lasting success of the fight against crime. Like the rest of the country, I am very heartened that he has shown the bad guys that they will not win one hundred per cent of the time. However, I am not ready to rush to gush over Gary like the business community.

Photo: Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith (left) and his wife Nicole Dyer-Griffith (centre) during the 2018 Independence Day parade in Port of Spain.
(Copyright Ministry of National Security)

For the more discerning, there are questions about the so-called major drug bust in Westmoorings: is it that four medium size suspects can finance TT$15 million dollars’ worth of product? If not when are we arresting the suspected financier? Where did the dope pass? We don’t want big flash, but no big fish.

When will public spaces become tolerably safe? The bandits are grabbing your belongings or your car almost any place, any time. You can also be badly beaten in your home or business place.

Will murders be less than 500—the number already exceeded for 2018? Life be spared, next year we will see what, if any, is the new reality. I may join the gushers then.

I ask these questions because they reflect reality. It is undiluted rationalisation to believe that the current dreadful reality will magically be overturned because we are overwhelmed with fuzzy feelings that Commissioner Griffith brings hope.

Perhaps it is also fuzzy feelings that have inhibited the gushing communities from appreciating the continuing damage to the reputation of the judiciary and the country while the allegations against the Chief Justice remain unresolved.

On Tuesday last, the Law Association brought its examination of those matters to a civilised and graceful conclusion. It had a duty to tackle them and it did it well and fairly—its authority to do so clearly confirmed by the Privy Council.

Photo: President Paula-Mae Weekes (right) addresses Chief Justice Ivor Archie during her inauguration ceremony at NAPA on 19 March 2018.
(Copyright Office of the President)

There are only a few of us who are prepared to speak frankly outside of closed doors or the cocktail party circuits and the bourgeois barricades about serious and damaging issues.

Perhaps the craving and the craven alike might usefully ponder the telling statement contained in one of the two legal opinions taken by the Law Association, which was the less severe of the two.

The statement speaks to the allegations concerning the character of two persons with whom the Chief Justice may have been associated, compounding the alleged and wholly impermissible lobbying of state entities and actors—including the Prime Minister—for state provided housing.

In three of the alleged cases of lobbying for housing, the Prime Minister may know the facts first hand and therefore be well placed to know whether this and other approaches by the Chief Justice should be investigated further.

The statement, now quoted, is a useful reminder of the higher values to which a Judiciary is expected to subscribe and to which I believe our Judiciary is still loyal.

It said: “The Chief Justice has a very heavy behavioural responsibility to be particularly circumspect about those whom he chooses as his close personal friends. This is especially so regarding persons who are not in such circles as those in which a Judge would ordinarily move, professionally or otherwise.

Photo: Dillian Johnson (left), a former convicted fraudster, is an alleged friend of Chief Justice Ivor Archie.

“Otherwise, a Chief Justice runs a most serious risk of being held accountable for showing extremely poor judgment in entering and maintaining or developing a close personal relationship with a person who has the potential to bring into disrepute both the Office of the Chief Justice and the Administration of Justice.  The Chief Justice must expect to have to answer this ground regarding both Kern Romero and Dillan Jonson (sic).”

My brother in observation, BC Pires, recently wrote a forceful piece about our detachment from reality in the context of a fantasy movie called Inception.

“In the movie and the country, everyone, from chief suspect to chief justice is not who they are, but just vigorously pretending to be who they are visibly, demonstrably not.”

Lord, put ah han’ if suspect and justice become fully interchangeable.

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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