Port of Spain
A Presidential “bouff” for the Newsday newspaper. President Anthony Carmona yesterday sought to remove any perception there was a cloud over the appointment of Gillian Lucky as a judge and, in the process, took Newsday to task for yesterday’s front-page report headlined: “Storm Over Judge Gillian”.
Contrary to what was written in the article, the President said no member of the Judicial and Legal Service Commission (JLSC) came to see him, or even attempted to meet with him, to express concerns over the appointment of Lucky.
Lucky presented her instrument of resignation as director of the Police Complaints Authority (PCA) to the President on Monday, in readiness to take up a judgeship.
Sources on the Judicial and Legal Service Commission confirmed yesterday Lucky’s appointment received the unanimous approval of all the members of the JLSC.
In a statement yesterday, the President categorically and “unequivocally” denied any meeting with any member of the JLSC on this issue.
The President went further, saying the Newsday article which alleged there was such a meeting had crossed the line and had sought to undermine and bring into disrepute both the JLSC and the Office of the President:
“The (Newsday) report of the alleged approaches being made by a member of the JLSC to His Excellency, as stated in the said article, has crossed the rubicon of being characterised as mere misinformation. It is simply untrue and serves to undermine and bring the JLSC and the Office of the President into disrepute,” the release from the Office of the President stated.
“The Office of the President wishes to unequivocally state that no member of the JLSC in an individual capacity has sought to meet with or attempt to contact His Excellency the President to discuss certain matters of the JLSC referred to in the Newsday article.
“The...(Newsday) article alleges that a member of the JLSC, in an individual capacity, met with His Excellency the President to discuss confidential matters which fall within the constitutional purview and the mandate of the JLSC. Such (and it never occurred), in any event, would have been highly improper and inappropriate,” the release stated.
The President also refuted the contention in the same article he was being “lobbied” to appoint David
West, former head of the Central Authority, for the PCA position, which is now vacant.
Stating it was “erroneous”, the release from the Office of the President said: “The President has not been lobbied to appoint anyone to the position of director of the Police Complaints Authority”.
The President continued: “Accurate and responsible reporting is the hallmark of a good press. The Office of the President is of the humble view that persons charged with keeping the public informed must establish the truth of a situation and not resort to sensational and creative reporting, which can have the undesirable effect of discrediting independent institutions of this Republic.”
Yesterday, a JLSC source said none of the concerns, such as Lucky’s weekly newspaper column, cited in the article had been expressed by persons on the JLSC.
“It (the content of the article) is very frightening,” the source stated.
Attempts to contact Chief Justice Ivor Archie, who chairs the JLSC, were unsuccessful.
Lucky, who was once a member of Parliament, has also been a newspaper columnist for many years and also hosted a television programme.
As head of the PCA, in April this year, Lucky found herself embroiled in controversy, following the leaking of the PCA report and the Police Service Report on investigations into the New Flying Squad.
Attorney General Anand Ramlogan, who called for an investigation into the PCA, said the leaking of the reports had “jeopardised and compromised” the integrity of the criminal process.
Ramlogan, on one occasion, upbraided Lucky, stating: “The PCA is an independent body and, as such, cannot appear to be politically biased...Ms Lucky...should perhaps remind herself of this fact as she openly and frequently makes critical political statements in her column and television show. This is inconsistent with the appearance of political neutrality and impartiality.”
How judges are appointed
To qualify for appointment as a High Court judge, one is required to have at least ten years’ experience as an attorney-at-law.
High Court judges are
appointed by the President, based on the advice of the Judicial and Legal Service Commission (JLSC).
Under the Constitution, the JLSC is the body responsible for appointing judges (other than the Chief Justice), masters of the High Court, magistrates and other judicial officers.
It comprises five members and is headed by the Chief Justice.
A chief justice is
appointed by the President after consultation with the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader.
Following is Section 104 of the Constitution, which outlines the procedure by which judges are appointed:
1. The judges, other than the chief justice, shall be appointed by the President, acting in accordance with the advice of the Judicial and Legal Service Commission.
a. the office of any such judge is vacant;
b. any such judge is for any reason unable to perform the functions of his office;
c. any such judge is acting as chief justice or a puisne judge is acting as a Justice of Appeal; or
d. the chief justice advises the President that the state of business of the Court of Appeal or the High Court so requires, the President, acting in accordance with the advice of the Judicial and Legal Service Commission,
i. may appoint a person to act in the office of Justice of Appeal or puisne judge, as the case may require;
ii. may, notwithstanding Section 136, appoint a person who has held office as a judge and who has attained the age of 65 to be temporarily a puisne judge for fixed periods of not more than two years.
3. The appointment of any person under subsection (2) to act in the office of Justice of Appeal or puisne judge shall continue to have effect until it is revoked by the President, acting in accordance with the advice of the Judicial and Legal Service Commission.