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CJ warns two talk show hosts: You’re flirting with contempt
Chief Justice Ivor Archie yesterday warned two television presenters against "flirting with contempt of court" and "calling into question the ethics of judicial officers. "Referring to two specific incidents broadcast live on national television in recent weeks, the Chief Justice cited Inshan Ishmael's claim, aired on the show Breaking Barriers on the Islamic Broadcasting Network (IBN) on May 7, that he knew of "cases before the courts "where magistrates and Judges, etc, have been bought out.” The second incident involved Fazeer Mohammed who described judges of the Supreme Court as "long-winded clowns" on his TV6 Morning Edition programme yesterday while discussing the decision in the Section 34 case.
In a statement issued by the Judiciary, Archie described Ishamel's comments as egregious, unsubstantiated, reckless and unwise and said he was "gravely concerned that it risks damage to the perception of the justice that is dispensed in our courts." Contacted by the T&T Guardian to comment on the issue, Ishmael was in recalcitrant mood and gave no indication that he would comply with Archie's warning against repeating such comments. He repeated the claim that in the course of his work as an investigative journalist he had spoken to a number of people who "have been asked to pay sums of money by judges in order to swing it in their favour."
Without revealing any specifics, Ishmael referred to a land dispute case in which one of the parties involved received a phone call while Ishmael sat next to him in a vehicle. "I had a witness in the vehicle who heard the phone call and I was asked what the individual should do. I said don't pay a penny." He went on to say other cases had been brought to his attention, including cases of collusion and described his claims as "not without merit."
Archie described Fazeer Mohammed's “long-winded clowns” comment, made in relation to a lengthy Appeal Court decision he was discussing on the show as, "a distasteful and reprehensible attempt to diminish the court in the eyes of the public." Contacted by the T&T Guardian for comment Mohammed said it was the first he had heard of the media release. His response was brief and compliant. He said simply: "The comments of the Chief Justice are duly noted."