A High Court judge in Trinidad on Tuesday upheld an application by Chief Justice Ivor Archie that the Law Association of Trinidad and Tobago does not have the power to investigate allegations of misconduct against him.
Justice Nadia Kangaloo said that no such power is vested under the Legal Professions Act, and as such, the LATT's probe is considered null, void, and irrational in law.
The LATT is expected to file its appeal on Wednesday with the hope of having a hearing sometime later this week.
Delivering a 19-page judgment in Archie’s judicial review lawsuit against the Association in the Port-of-Spain High Court, Justice Kangaloo ruled that the investigation was illegal, unreasonable, irrational and contrary to the Legal Profession Act, which established the Association.
There was no law which empowered the association to conduct a “shadow” investigation into allegations made against a judge, she said. She agreed with Archie’s legal team that Section 137 of the Constitution was the only avenue for doing so.
Under Section 137, the President appoints a tribunal after misconduct allegations against a CJ are referred by the Prime Minister.
So far Prime Minister Keith Rowley has declined to make such a referral.
In a message sent to its membership hours after the High Court’s ruling, the Association’s council said it met and decided to immediately lodge an appeal and an application for an urgent hearing.
The council said it had been advised to postpone its special general meeting, scheduled for next Thursday, in which a report on the investigation conducted by a sub-committee of council and advice on it from Dr Francis Alexis, QC, of Grenada and Eamon Courtenay, QC, of Belize, were expected to be presented for consideration.
No decision has yet been made concerning a postponement, however, as the Law Association waits in hope that the Court of Appeal will hear the appeal before that date.
Last June the Law Association passed an overwhelming vote of no confidence (non-binding) in Chief Justice Archie.
Five resolutions, were passed by a collective vote of 1,138 for and 517 against, covering a loss of confidence in Archie, a loss of confidence in him as head of the Judicial and Legal Service Commission (JLSC), a loss of confidence in JLSC members Justices Roger Hamel Smith, Humphrey Stollmeyer and head of the Public Service Majorie Thorpe.
On that occasion, former chief justice Satnarine Sharma told the T&T Guardian that, while there was nothing in the Constitution to address a vote of no confidence against a sitting chief justice, with the lawyers having voted overwhelmingly against Archie, the onus was now on the Chief Justice “to take steps to remove himself.”
“It is a moral thing,” Sharma added.
SOURCE: T&T Guardian