President Anthony Carmona commended three newly-appointed judges for their “excellence” and “going beyond the Bench to engage change among young people”.
Carmona was speaking at Wednesday’s swearing-in of former chief magistrate Marcia Ayers-Caesar, attorney Kevin Ramcharan and magistrate Avason Quinlan-Williams as High Court judges, at the Office of the President, Circular Road, St Ann’s.
Chief Justice Ivor Archie and acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams, husband of Quinlan-Williams, were among those in attendance. Both Carmona and Archie extended God’s blessings to the judges, their relatives and loved ones.
“It is really a ground-breaking moment for two magistrates, one a chief magistrate and a senior magistrate being sworn in,” said the President.
“I have listened attentively to the required acumen, academia and performance. I, too, have listened to the concerns expressed by members of the judiciary. I have seen excellence at the Court of Appeal and in defending your judgments,” he added.
“I have seen the kind of diligent work you have done. The long hours you have spent and independent decisions you have made over the years. I know you will bring added intellectual fortitude to the Bench. It is a great honour, I want to wish you all the best. I think you all have the calibre to strive and to bring real justice to Trinidad and Tobago in all forms and fashions. You all have gone beyond the Bench to engage change among young people, and without payment. You have gone beyond the boundary.”
Carmona cited two sterling examples in ex-magistrates Melville Baird and Kenny Persad, who have excelled and displayed clarity of vision, jurisprudence and objective process.
“Baird was appointed a judge. He went on to become an international criminal judge. He adjudicated in one of the greatest pivotal cases in war crimes abuse and genocide. I, too, had to defend hundreds and hundreds of magisterial appeals,” said Carmona.
The President advised the new judges to keep the connection to the man on the ground since it would propel them towards becoming better judges and making more informed decisions.
He also said “fake news is not recent vintage”.
“It has been going on for a long time...the negative impact on the society and way of living and way of life. I do recall when I took the oath of office it was essentially for 20 minutes. We need to celebrate. Let the public know we have competent people by virtue of their resumes. It is about good news, good people, hard work and sacrifice.”
Casting his eye in the direction of acting Commissioner Williams, he said: “Your cup runneth over.”
Chief Justice Archie said he welcomed the female judges’ appointments.
“The gender balance on the Bench must be reflective of the society, although it is beginning to tilt in the direction. We are becoming an endangered species. We have taken a very diligent approach towards the continuing professional development of judicial officers,” he said. “We are not about voters and appeasing constituencies, but about finding the best people for the job. I am happy the installation of judges in different years has been attended by openness, transparency and publicity in the full glare of the media. It is important the public knows the persons who come to the High Court Bench are of the highest calibre. Anyone who is appointed nowadays has been through the most rigorous processes you can find in the region or the Commonwealth,” the CJ added.