The call for transparency and fairness were the main topics put forth by members of the public during the Law Association's public consultations on the appointment of judges on Tuesday.
Fewer than 20 people attended the event, held at City Hall Auditorium in San Fernando.
Despite the turnout, there was active discussion between committee members and members of public.
Attorney Subhas Panday expressed concern over the criteria used to appoint judges, and noted the real problem stemmed from the Constitution and the President.
He noted that there needs to be a better way to deal with the appointment of members of Judiciary, and felt the appointment of judges should not be held in secrecy but be made known to the public.
Apart from appointment of judges, Panday said the JLSC should not just appoint but also invite people to apply.
He noted, this would give the JLSC a bigger pool to draw the most suitable candidate.
He said, “This judiciary should represent everybody in Trinidad and Tobago.”
Dr Terrence Farrell, right, makes a point during the Law Association of Trinidad and Tobago's committee on judicial appointments, at San Fernando City Hall on Tuesday night. Looking on are David Abdulah and Vanessa Gopaul. -Photo: DEXTER PHILIP
Panday said a more robust criteria should be put in place to ensure capable judges are appointed, citing that certain restrictions should be put in place so in the event a mistake is made, the appointed judge can only serve a specified term of five to seven years.
President of the Assembly of Southern Lawyers, Reshard Khan expressed the need for objectivity, and more feedback from the JLSC.
Khan noted there is a level of distrust brewing in the public, Judiciary and private sector on the way in which judges are appointed.
He said, it appeared when it came to the appointment of judges, reputation and who you knew or affiliated with was more important than qualification and experience.
Attorney Hazel Thompson-Ayhe said, “We need to look at what we do and how we do it. We are not perfect. We have to be honest in what we do and the secrecy must stop.”
Recounting a quote she heard growing up, Ayhe said, “What you need in a judge is a gentleman, and if there's more – great!”