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Judiciary must deal with it

Published: 
Friday, August 18, 2017
Young admits Parliament can’t touch Marcia fiasco

Government has now turned back to the judiciary to resolve the issue of the 53 part-heard matters that were left in limbo by former magistrate Marcia Ayers-Caesar departure from the magistracy. The cases that were left hanging by the very judiciary will now be dealt with through the High Court via an interpretation summons.

This was revealed by acting Attorney General Stuart Young at yesterday’s post-Cabinet meeting at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann’s.

This was the second option the Government had put forward in the last month as it tries to resolve the legal limbo in which the affected cases had been left.

During a meeting last month, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley had told Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar that matter may end up in Parliament after the AG came up with a proposal from the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) that the solution could be achieved legislatively through the Summary Courts Act and Preliminary Inquiry Act. This, however, was rejected by Persad-Bissessar.

Yesterday, Young said the Government had now sought another option to resolves the issue, which has been lingering for several months now.

“The Prime Minister himself laid out the Government’s position that there was a Chinese wall between the Government and the Judicial and Legal Services Commission (JLSC) with these 53 cases,” he said.

Young said when Rowley had suggested the cases could be addressed through legislation in Parliament, this proposal came as a plea from stakeholders from the criminal justice system to the Government.

“As the Prime Minister said, we saw ourselves as distanced from the decisions that took place leading to the stalemate of the 53 cases in the magistracy by the former chief magistrate.”

He said the PM, having sought independent advice from senior counsel, presented a fresh option to Cabinet yesterday.

Noting the Government did not really want to go into the issue in the first place because it an area not within their remit and that it was also a matter before the courts, Young said: “The Government has taken advice at the level of the Prime Minister and this is the advice we are going to follow. We will be going to court via the Attorney General and we hope to file these proceedings next week, where we will basically lay the facts out as we know it via affidavit to the High Court and we will set out what are the provisions of the existing law that apply and then we will invite the High Court to make a decision and come to a conclusion as to how these 53 cases should be dealt with in going forward.”

One of the immediate benefits coming out of this option, Young said, was that interested parties such as the DPP, JLSC, Law Association, Criminal Bar Association and “anyone who thinks they should intervene in these proceedings” could come and make submissions to the judiciary in the High Court for a determination on how these cases should be handled in going forward in order to bring an end to the parties affected.

He said any stakeholder can make their submissions to the High Court “and of course there is an appeal process all the way to the Privy Council.”

Young said he hopes everyone will participate so the judiciary can deal with the matter expeditiously.

“The Government is going to exercise this option. We are going to place the facts before the judiciary, as well as the laws that exist and ask the judiciary to determine a way forward for a matter that is squarely within the remit of the judiciary. The judiciary is in control. And will be in control of these proceedings.”

Young said Cabinet saw this as the best way.

“The Government has a limited role in this. We will stand back and allow the parties to persuade the court as to how it should be dealt with.”

While Opposition has called for a “tribunal” to be set up to deal with the cases, Young said this was “misplaced” since the tribunal was for disciplinary matters.

“That is not what occurs here or arises here. That will not solve the persons affected. And we are very far from utilising the Section 137 proceedings.”

Asked how soon they expected the matter to be resolved, Young said it lies in the hands of the judiciary.