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Anand stands his ground
Attorney General Anand Ramlogan says he intends to continue to review complaints about the conduct of attorneys involved in prison litigation matters for his office, and will address any concerns arising out of matters that have been completed and are no longer before the court. He made the comment yesterday after the Prison Officers’ Association announced it would not meet with the AG to discuss the matter.
In a release last evening, Ramlogan said he had no intention of stepping aside from the latest probe ordered by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, adding the POA was not part of the committee formed to investigate, among other things, allegations made by the association.
“Having regard to the concerns raised by the association, I did in fact notify its general secretary, Mr Gerard Gordon, of the meeting to afford them the opportunity to participate in this process and submit their concerns to the committee,” the AG said.
Addressing a concern the POA had about comments the AG made about prisons officers, he said, “I wish to clarify that the statements ‘which appeared to convey very negative connotations about prison officers’ were in fact based on the findings and statements made by the High Court in various judgements delivered against prison officers in which Judges condemned their conduct.” Ramlogan said the trial in the case of Jamal Sambury verses the Attorney General was presently pending before the High Court.
These proceedings are therefore sub judice, Ramlogan said. He added that the assessment was scheduled to be heard on the May 21 before Master Sobian-Awai. “I did in fact seek a report on this matter and the concerns raised in the public domain from the Solicitor General (acting) to determine what action if any, should be taken.
“I was advised that it would be inappropriate for anyone to consider this matter or matters arising therefrom while the case is pending before the court. I accepted this advice, as it would indeed be improper and prejudicial for any enquiry or action to be taken that would pre-empt the findings of the court.
“The State is the Defendant in this matter and it would be unethical and in breach of the Legal Profession Act for the office of the Attorney General to take any action on any case which is still before the courts. To do so would violate the Rule of Law and prejudice the rights of the parties before the court.”
Saying that an any event an independent enquiry was already on the way, the AG said Sobian-Awai has referred the Sambury matter to the Registrar of the Supreme Court who, in turn, referred the attorneys involved and the case to the disciplinary committee of the Law Association.
The disciplinary committee is the statutory body vested with the powers to investigate and deal with matters of this kind under the Legal Profession Act. The High Court also remains vested with the inherent jurisdiction to protect its process and make such orders to protect same, Ramlogan said.
“It would be improper for the Government, as the executive arm of the State, to trespass upon the role and function of the Law Association and the High Court, as to do so would amount to a usurpation of their legal functions, undermine their authority and breach the separation of powers. Indeed, it would undermine the rule of law,” he said.