Saturday, February 17, 2018

'A warrior and a gentleman'

ACCOLADES have poured in, following the death of Senior Counsel Theodore Roosevelt Guerra, fondly called "Teddy" by his colleagues, after he passed away yesterday morning at the age of 80.

Guerra, who was battling colon cancer, was remembered by his friend Pamela Elder, SC, as a father figure to the profession.

Elder, who shared the law firm Guerra, Elder and Associates, was overcome with grief when the Express contacted her. She described Guerra as both a warrior and a gentleman.

Elder said many lawyers learned at the feet of Guerra, who trained many in the legal fraternity.

She added that it was a very difficult time for her, as she lost more than a colleague; she also lost a close friend.

Senior Counsel Dana Seetahal remembered Guerra for his sense of humour and his multi-faceted approach to life.

Seetahal told the Express Guerra kept himself active all his life and was heavily involved in a cricket club he formed in his home town of Santa Cruz.

"From the time I came out in practice, I knew him. We got along very well, even though I was a State attorney and he was a defence lawyer. He was, even then, one of the leaders of the criminal bar. He was, to my knowledge, one of the first silk (Senior Counsel, post-Republic era) in the criminal bar," said Seetahal.

She added that Guerra, who also had a stint in politics in the National Alliance for Reconstruction government (1986-1991), had a social conscience and, as a result, he took many briefs for Legal Aid.

"He had a sense of humour, he was fun-loving and that would make you feel comfortable. He must and will be missed," Seetahal said.

Also commenting on his passing was Israel Khan, SC, who expressed his condolences to the family of Guerra. "He was the doyen of the criminal Bar. It is my considered view that he was the most experienced criminal lawyer in the entire Caribbean. It was a beauty to see him cross (-examine) witnesses at a trial. He was a sincere man who was always willing to assist young attorneys. He actually had a hand in moulding me into a trial lawyer and I will always be grateful to 'Teddy'.

"Teddy had a very big heart and he would have represented thousands of persons pro bono in his 50-year career at the bar. Money was of little concern to him and many scoundrels took advantage of this soft spot in his heart. He will be surely missed by the entire country," Khan said.

Chief Magistrate Marcia Ayers-Caesar said she could not describe how she felt about the passing of Guerra. She said Guerra was one of the leading attorneys at the Bar who was always respectful to the court.

Ayers-Caesar recalled Guerra had a matter before her, adding that she would miss him.

One of Guerra's proteges was Senior Counsel Charles Osbourne, who said when he returned from studying he joined Guerra's chambers. He added that they became friends over the years. "He was reliable... it is a sad loss to me and to the profession and he would be sadly missed."

In a media release, president of the Law Association Senior Counsel Seenath Jairam said Guerra was the type of attorney who got along well with all in the profession, both young and old. "Mr Guerra was a very well-known attorney and lived a very full life in every sense of that expression. He was affable, cheerful, jovial and a fierce cross-examiner in the criminal arena. He was truly a people's person and loved steel pan and calypso. We will truly miss his ever cheerful and engaging presence," Jairam said.