FOR retired Court of Appeal judge Anthony Amos Lucky, the 50th anniversary of Trinidad and Tobago's Independence this year held greater significance.
He was awarded a Chaconia Medal (Gold) for long and meritorious service to this country. However, he was also celebrating his 50th anniversary of being called to the Bar as an attorney in T&T.
Lucky served as a magistrate for ten years before being appointed a judge of the High Court, where he served for 16 years, with the last three being at the Court of Appeal. He resigned in 2003 to take up an appointment as a judge of the United Nations International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, based in Hamburg, Germany.
"In that court I have served as the president of the Environmental Chamber Court for three years and then last year I was elected for another three years," Lucky said.
"In June 2011, I was elected for another nine years at the meeting of 162 member states. Of the 147 states qualified to vote, I received 142 votes, which was the second highest amount, with the other person receiving 143."
Asked if this signalled a vote of confidence in his work, Lucky told the Express in a telephone interview yesterday that he believes so.
"It says that the international community accepted what I had to say when I wrote my judgments, especially in the judgments where I proffered separate opinions and ones of dissent.
"I was interviewed by over 100 countries before the elections. They would look into your work to see what you have done and further, they would look to see what contribution you made."
Lucky has presented papers at major international gatherings in several parts of the world, including Beijing in China, the United States of America, and Argentina, on the contribution of Trinidad and Tobago in the development of the Law of the Sea and in the areas of exploration and exploitation.
"Trinidad and Tobago's flag is flying in all these countries."
Lucky has also had stints as corporate secretary at Royal Bank (now RBC Royal Bank) and lecturing at the Hugh Wooding Law School in Company Law and Legislative Law and Drafting.
He has also served on several committees, including as president of the Scout Association of Trinidad and Tobago. He said the major challenge he has faced in the recent past arose while working at the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea.
"There are 21 of us and each one from a different country with each one speaking a different language. The two languages in the court are English and French. But being able to fit in and work together with all these brilliant minds was a challenge, sitting and talking to them and having legal discussions and discussions in general.
"The challenge is, and I say it to all young lawyers or anyone in whatever field, to aim for excellence. It doesn't come overnight. You have to work at it."
Asked about what can be done to improve the administration of justice in Trinidad and Tobago, Lucky said he is now seeing moves to implement suggestions made while he was a member of the local Bench.
"I remember making a statement which was initially criticised. It (the administration of justice) can be improved and it is improving. But we all have to remember that in Trinidad and Tobago, people are litigious by nature and it's like the Pitch Lake. The more you take out...you finish about ten cases and then 20 are filed.
"I have noticed moves, and there has been talk, to abolish jury trials. It has been abolished in Pakistan, Singapore, Malaysia, Nigeria—in all the African states and most of the Asian states (and) Australia. It does put a strain on the judge. Sometimes you see how long it takes to even select a jury. That is one move.
"The second is the abolishing of preliminary enquiries and getting matters faster into the High Court, where there are lots of criminal cases. Then you have the new rules and the application of these rules are addressing the civil matters.
"So the judiciary is playing its part and, in doing so, it is adhering to the separation of powers and its independence as one of the three major bodies."
Lucky, a sitting High Court judge in 1997, was nominated by the People's National Movement (PNM) as that party's choice for the Presidency. It was the first time the Presidency was contested, with the then ruling United National Congress (UNC) nominating Arthur NR Robinson.
Reflecting on what transpired at that time, Lucky said he is always willing to serve the country in any capacity.
"At that particular time, I was willing to serve. When I was approached, I said (to myself) it's an independent post and they would have selected a judge who was independent and I said okay I am willing to serve my country.
"Of course, those in the Electoral College felt differently and I accepted it. When I heard about the person who might be opposing, I felt that a politician should not be the President. The President must be an independent person.
"I felt that if a politician went there, there would be a certain amount of difficulty. For someone who was independent, it would be a simple task. That is why I held out and I faced the music."
Lucky said his decision was supported by his wife Cintra and daughters Gillian (an attorney and head of the Police Complaints Authority), Cindy-Ann, Elizabeth and Antonia.
On being awarded the Chaconia Medal (Gold), Lucky, a devout Roman Catholic, thanked God for giving him the talent to do what he was expected to do.
"I am just simply a recipient because there are so many who have played their part along the way and who would have contributed to where I have reached. It is through them that I have done what was considered sufficient, in the view of the National Awards Committee, to be awarded this medal. My family has always been and continue to be the wind beneath my wings.
"There are so many people—teachers, friends—who along the way have encouraged me. So I received it yes, but the medal belongs to all of them." —See Page 24