Saturday, January 20, 2018

CJ Archie needs to clear the air

CHIEF Justice Ivor Archie, by his actions, and his stubbornness in the face of increasing calls for him to clear the air on allegations against him, appears to be digging himself deeper and deeper into a hole, regarding his credibility in the eyes of the public.

The Chief Justice summarily dismissed a request made to him by a member of the Bench, to at least clear the air with his colleagues on the matter involving his alleged attempt to influence sitting judges on their choice of private security.

He has steadfastly refused to answer questions put to him on the issue by our reporter.

Now the Chief Justice has turned down a request from Justice Carol Gobin that he meet with members of the judiciary, if only in an effort to settle their own disquiet on the matters raised.

In a letter dated November 17, Justice Gobin wrote to the Chief Justice, pleading with him to convene a meeting with members of the judiciary, for what she said was “the sake of the institution and the preservation of what is left of public confidence in it”.

The letter was copied to the other members of the Judiciary, such that they could lend their voices to this call.

Regarding the allegations themselves against the CJ, Justice Gobin said they were “very serious and scandalous”, emphasising nevertheless her mindfulness that “they are but allegations”.

Further, she reasoned if the allegations turn out to be baseless and without foundation, “then I believe we are duty bound to forcefully defend the office of the Chief Justice and the institution”.

Incredibly, however, seeing no virtue in such a position, the CJ wrote back to Justice Gobin, and to the rest of his brother and sister judges stating that he had “given deep consideration” to the request for the meeting, but “unfortunately” he decided against any such meeting.

Instead he sought to question the fact that the letter requesting the meeting found its way into the press.

By her attempt to get a clear understanding of the issues involved in the allegations against the Chief Justice, Justice Gobin has joined a growing list of concerned citizens agonising over the damage being done to the judiciary in the process.

The Law Association of Trinidad and Tobago, as a body, as well as individual eminent Senior Counsel in the persons of Martin Daly and Avory Sinanan, and retired Head of the Public Service Reginald Dumas, have called on Chief Justice Archie to do what is necessary to clear the air in this matter.

Thus far, he has remained steadfastly unmoved.

This is even as the other principal in this matter, the young man named as a friend of the CJ's and on whose behalf he presumably sought to act in the alleged security services matter, has provided some context to the fact that a conversation did take place between them.

For his own reputational good, and for the good of the office of the Chief Justice, and the larger good of the judiciary, the Honourable Chief Justice is well advised, even now, to consider addressing this issue as conscientiously as the situation warrants.