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Law Association appeals injunction
The Law Association has filed its appeal over a judgment barring it from continuing its investigation into misconduct allegations levelled against Chief Justice Ivor Archie.
The T&T Guardian understands the association’s legal team filed the appeal and corresponding application for an urgent hearing in the Court of Appeal Registry at the Hall of Justice in Port-of-Spain shortly after 2 pm yesterday.
Up to late yesterday, however, the association had not received a date for the hearing of the urgency application in which it will be required to convince an appellate judge to grant an emergency hearing before a three-member appeal panel.
The association is seeking the urgent hearing in the hope it can be determined before its special general meeting carded for next Thursday, in which the results of its internal investigation into the allegations are expected to be presented and discussed. In the event the urgent application is rejected, the meeting will have to be postponed.
According to the appeal documents, which were obtained by the T&T Guardian, the association is claiming High Court Judge Nadia Kangaloo made several errors in her 19-page judgment delivered in Archie’s favour on Tuesday. It is claiming Kangaloo misinterpreted the Constitution when she ruled it did not have the power to investigate the allegations against Archie, before referring them to the Prime Minister (PM) to trigger an impeachment tribunal under Section 137 of the Constitution. Under the procedure, the Prime Minister recommends that the President appoint a tribunal to investigate the allegations.
The association is also claiming Kangaloo’s restriction on its power to investigate allegations before referring them to the PM infringed on its and citizens’ rights to freedom of thought and expression, as there is no legislative bar to such action.
It said the court is allowed to review a decision from the Prime Minister or the Judicial and Legal Service Commission (JLSC) to engage section 137 for a Chief Justice or a judge, and its investigation would have been material to proving whether any refusal to do so was illegal.
“The effect of the judge’s ruling is therefore to effectively and/or substantially immunise decisions of the Prime Minister or JLSC from any judicial oversight,” the association stated.
It also claimed Kangaloo improperly considered evidence that was not raised or addressed by association, including newspaper reports in which Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley claimed he was reluctant to get involved in the debacle surrounding Archie.
“These reported statements in the media could not, without more, be legitimately be treated as notification of a decision of the Prime Minister in relation to Section 137,” the association said.
It also complained that Kangaloo gave undue weight to the academic discussions of former president Sir Ellis Clarke, who is credited as one of the main architects of the 1962 Independence constitution. Like the newspaper reports on Rowley’s alleged position, the association pointed out that it was not discussed in the hearing of Archie’s lawsuit.
ALLEGATIONS AGAINST ARCHIE
The controversy surrounding CJ Archie arose late last year following a series of newspaper reports which accused him of attempting to persuade judges to change their State-provided security in favour of a private company where his friend, Dillian Johnson, worked. Archie was also accused of attempting to fast track Housing Development Corporation (HDC) applications for various people.
After the allegations surfaced, Johnson was wounded in a shooting at his home. He has since claimed to be seeking asylum in the United Kingdom. However, the British High Commission says it has no knowledge of such an application, although a recent report in the British press confirms a lobbyist is seeking asylum on Johnson’s behalf.
Archie only responded to the allegations once and denied discussing judges’ security, but admitted to suggesting people for HDC housing.
In November last year, Council of the Law Association called on him to respond to the allegation that he discussed the judges’ meeting with a private individual. It then appointed a sub-committee to investigate the allegations and sought the legal advice of two eminent Queen’s Counsel to determine if the allegations were sufficient to trigger impeachment proceedings under Section 137 of the Constitution.
Dr Francis Alexis, QC, of Grenada and Eamon Courtenay, QC, of Belize, received the investigative report two weeks ago. Their advice was expected to be relayed to the association’s membership at a special general meeting next week.
Several of Archie’s judicial colleagues have called upon him to address the allegations publicly, but he has repeatedly refused the association’s request to directly respond to the allegations, stating it was not empowered to conduct any investigation.
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