A judge at the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), accused by his driver of attempting to sell two complimentary tickets to a Carnival event, has been given an additional allowance to privately hire a driver of his choosing.
Nine drivers are permanently employed by the Court.
The variation to the Terms and Conditions of Judges was made by the Regional Judicial and Legal Services Commission (RJLSC) on May 12. The RJLSC administers the CCJ.
The judge was given an additional monthly allowance of US$1,226.33 retroactive to October 2013.
The move was made following an incident in which CCJ driver assigned to the judge, Garth Jerry, stated in his report to then CCJ Facilities and Assets Manager Vaughn Halliday that the judge and his wife were in receipt of four complimentary tickets for a 2013 Carnival Friday event hosted by the National Carnival Commission (NCC) at the Queen’s Park Savannah.
The tickets were from a batch sent to the CCJ by the NCC.
Jerry claimed when the couple arrived at the Savannah, they realised they had two extra tickets. The judge’s wife “insisted” that she wished to sell the tickets.
An usher “persistently and politely” informed the judge’s wife that the complimentary tickets could not be sold.
Minutes after the usher seated the couple in the VVIP section, the judge returned to the driver and requested that he (Garth Jerry) join them, wrote Jerry.
The driver stated that he “humbly refused” and explained to the judge that his wife’s behaviour reflected poorly on the CCJ as “scalping” complimentary tickets was unacceptable.
Following this incident report, the judge demanded a replacement driver.
When one was assigned, the judge refused to accept him and demanded that the CCJ pay him an allowance that would enable him to privately employ a driver of his choice.
Then CCJ Registrar and Chief Marshal Paula Pierre analysed the incident and the judge’s demand in correspondence to the RJLSC, dated April 29, 2013.
She concluded that “…the Court administration has been delegated the responsibility to select and appoint drivers for the organisation. This would include the judges’ drivers and the messengers/drivers for the office vehicles. The Court would have the corresponding responsibility to pay the judges’ drivers under the terms and conditions set out… This does not mean, however, that a judge cannot hire his own driver, at his own expense, for unofficial commitments.”
Notwithstanding Pierre’s conclusion, the RJLSC approved a driver’s allowance for the judge.
The relevant correspondence from the Commission read: “At its 87th meeting, the Commission approved an exception to the current Terms and Conditions of Judges approved by the Heads and Governments and indicated that a monthly driver’s allowance be paid to Justice (name called) in the amount of US$1,226.33 without benefits retroactive to October 2013. This is in lieu of having a driver from the Court. The judge is therefore expected to make his own arrangements with regard to retaining a driver to meet his needs.”
Deputy Chairman of the Commission, Dr Lloyd Barnett, in a telephone interview with the Express last Wednesday, said the opinion of the Commission was that the terms of engagement permitted the Commission to make variations.
“There were personal reasons why it was necessary in this case but that is between the judge and the Commission. I am not sure why this is being brought up. A tremendous effort is being made by the Commission to reduce costs and we are always conscious of the need to have a rational system, but some cases require special arrangements to be made and that was one such case.”