The High Court erred in the matter of the emailgate lawsuit. And yesterday it admitted to its error of failing to pass on critical information to Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley’s legal team. The information was only given directly via e-mail to the Attorney General Anand Ramlogan as well as to his attorney, Richard Jagai.
Attorney for Rowley, Faris Al-Rawi yesterday produced judicial confirmation of this communication gap “in the judicial administrative process” at a news conference yesterday.
He released to the media the e-mail sent to him by Stacy Seemungal, Judicial Officer to Justice Seepersad, in which she stated that Justice Seepersad had made a determination in Rowley’s legal team application for an extension to file Rowley’s defence in the emailgate lawsuit “without a hearing in Chambers on 16 December, 2014”. The Judge had given the date of January 7 as the deadline, to file that defence. That information however was not sent to Al-Rawi, Seemungal admitted.
In the e-mail, which is dated January 16, 2015 at 11.22 a.m., Seemungal said, “The Application and the Draft Order were then passed to Ms Pariag, a Judicial Support Officer attached to Justice Seepersad’s team to do the Order and inform the parties that the Order was granted. She inadvertently and without any direction from the Judge e-mailed the claimant (Ramlogan). She also sent an e-mail to the Claimant’s attorney at law, but failed to either call or inform the Defendant’s attorney at law (Al Rawi) of the terms of the Judge’s Order...In the circumstances there is no information on the (Ramlogan vs Rowley) file that indicates that the Defendant (Rowley) was informed of the Judges Order”.
Al-Rawi said the e-mail certified that Rowley was not apprised of the events that transpired. He also stated that in all of his years of practice as an attorney he had never seen an e-mail issued directly to a litigant (ie Ramlogan).
He said the Rowley legal team would be calling on the Registrar of the Supreme Court to conduct an investigation into this matter and to speak to the manner in which these events unfolded because it constitutes “a grave embarrassment to the administration of justice and puts the Leader of the Opposition at an extreme disadvantage”.
This was Al-Rawi’s second news conference, since Ramlogan’s claim of judicial victory in the emailgate defamation lawsuit at the post-Cabinet news conference on Thursday, in which he said Rowley had been ordered to pay him (Ramlogan). The judgment was given in default of the filing of a defence.
Al-Rawi said all the information that he (Al-Rawi) provided at yesterday’s news conference would form part of an affidavit to be given by Rowley’s team, as it seeks to set aside the judgment of the court.
However, he said he wished to state categorically the Rowley legal team and Rowley himself wished to make no aspersions against the judiciary itself. “We are deeply concerned that the administrative part of the judiciary has found itself in such difficulty... And that this has constituted an injury to Dr Rowley so far as the Attorney General was bold enough to go about making irresponsible statements that he had scored a major victory against Dr Rowley,” he said.
Al-Rawi claimed the Attorney General had betrayed his constitutional responsibility to act with decorum, in making sure that the administration of justice in civil and criminal matters is carried out with fairness and equity. “It is the protocol amongst attorneys that we copy any correspondence written to a judicial support officer or the Registrar or anyone acting in the Court, that we copy all communications to the other side. That is a requirement. In this case the titular head of the Bar, the Attorney General...clothed with the constitutional responsibility to ensure fairness in civil and criminal proceedings, went to the population at the post-Cabinet conference and made very bold allegations against Dr Rowley...implying that he had no defence and demanded an apology from Dr Rowley.
Yesterday Al-Rawi, on the issue of an apology said: “Apologise for what. That (question) doesn’t even deserve an answer.
“We called upon the Attorney General to retract his irresponsible statements and uphold the standards of the inner Bar. He ought to have known that we did not receive this Order of Justice Frank Seepersad. He knows that he quite improperly received the e-mail sent to him by Ms Pariag....He knows that he ought to have made enquiries as to whether we had received the order or not,” Al-Rawi stated.
Ramlogan last year, filed a defamation case against Rowley for allegations made relating to alleged e-mail exchanges between top office holders, which pointed, among other things, to an alleged conspiracy against the Director of Public Prosecutions, a plot to harm journalist Denyse Renne, the payment of monies to certain persons for the freedom of a person,
Al-Rawi said the Rowley legal team filed an application on October 31 for an extension for the filing of Rowley’s defence. At the time the matter was to be heard by Justice V Kokaram on December 2. However Kokaram recused himself. The Rowley legal team was not informed that the matter had been reassigned to a new judge (Seepersad) and that an Order had been made by him granting the extension and stipulating that the defence must be filed by January 7, 2015.