Thursday, February 22, 2018

A farmer who became Chief Magistrate

Tributes to Sherman McNicolls at funeral:


Sherman McNicoll —Photo: DAVE PERSAD

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LAST RITES: Relatives of former chief magistrate Sherman McNicolls, carry his casket into the Torrib Trace Seventh Day Adventist Church yesterday during the funeral service.—Photo: DAVE PERSAD

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SHERMAN McNicolls, the man who was once Chief Magistrate, was remembered by his children yesterday as a farmer and one who became a lawyer to help less fortunate persons who were being unfairly treated by attorneys.

McNicolls died last Thursday at Mt Hope Medical Sciences Complex after a battle with chronic lymphoid leukaemia.

At his funeral service yesterday, McNicolls' daughter, Mikhalia, said she remembered the days her father would return from the cane fields with dirty boots and torn shirt and she would run to get his slippers to allow him to walk around the house.

His second son, Sherman, recalled going to the cane field as a boy on his bicycle armed with his fishing rod, while his father and others would cut cane.

He said leaving the corporate world after his father was diagnosed with the illness back in 2009 and helping him plant his estate strengthened their bond.

"Even though at times reasoning with him on which crops we should plant...was like talking to a 50-foot brick wall, at the end of the day we had each other's back," he said.

Elder son, Michael, said his father's illness drew them closer together.

He said his father, up until the time of his death, was helping others and giving legal advice.

Mikhalia said, "He reminisced about why he chose a career in law, saying that so many lawyers rip people off who are already poor."

McNicolls also has a fourth child, Shermaine. The funeral service was held at the Torrib Trace Seventh-Day Adventist Church in New Grant, where McNicolls was an elder.

The funeral was attended by Chief Magistrate Marcia Ayers, Justice Geoffrey Henderson and several magistrates and members of the judiciary.

Deputy Chief Magistrate Mark Wellington said he knew McNicolls since 1977 and described the former magistrate as one who performed with efficiency and had excellent judicial temperament.

McNicolls, 56, who served as Chief Magistrate between 1999 and 2009, broke his service between 1993 and 1998 to serve as Registrar and Marshal of the Supreme Court.

It was he who had sentenced former prime minister Basdeo Panday to two years in prison back in 2002 for knowingly failing to declare his London bank account to the Integrity Commission.

In 2007, McNicolls was also the reason former chief justice Sat Sharma faced criminal charges laid against him after he claimed Sharma attempted to pervert the course of public justice by trying to influence him in the case against Panday.

He later faced disciplinary charges for failing to testify in court against Sharma.

McNicolls also presided over the Piarco Airport enquiry and the preliminary enquiry which led to former United National Congress minister Dhanraj Singh being committed to stand trial for murder.

In 1994, he was also one of the people to witness the execution of killer Glen Ashby.

He retired a year after he was diagnosed with the life-threatening disease but returned nine months ago to private practice.