?Writing this weekly column is a burdensome hobby, but a large part of what inspires me to write it is the appreciative comments and feedback and constructive criticism I receive from readers. I have noticed that overseas Trinis have a keen and abiding interest in what happens at "home," no matter how long they have settled in their new adopted homeland.
They monitor what's happening and make regular contributions.�
A few years ago, a group of readers launched a Web site (www.anandramlogan.com), where my column is posted and discussed by readers. The site administrator is based in London, and does an admirable job.�A regular commentator on this site is "Jumbie," who posted the following extract from a speech delivered by the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, which should be read by everyone concerned by the strong speech made by CJ Ivor Archie and AG Jeremie's pointed reminder that the people require a more sophisticated system of justice:
First, because when we speak of judicial independence, and then speak of the rule of law, we tend to make it sound as if we have two separate concepts, when they are as closely intertwined as a mutually-dependent and loving couple after many years of marriage, where one simply cannot survive without the other.
And second, to remind us that we should never take either judicial dependence or the rule of law for granted. The places where things have gone wrong include countries which believed that they were mature democracies, where these things did not and could not happen, but they did....There was, of course, no physical intimidation, no threat to security of judicial tenure, none of the extremes of tyranny. But it is the first steps which have to be watched.
The first is incursion by the executive into impropriety. The first compromise is by the judiciary with principle. We are all familiar with the employee who steals from his employer. The most difficult time is the first time the hand goes into the till. After that, each successive time is less difficult. The problem with the phrase, "eternal vigilance," is that it appears to focus on the long term. But the focus is the immediate, today, every day.
The insidious dangers are no less threatening than the obvious ones, and for the judiciary to acquiesce in the first small, even tiny, steps, may ultimately be terminal. In a democratic country, all power, however exercised in the community, must be founded on the rule of law. Therefore, each and every exercise of political power must be accountable not only to the electorate at the ballot box, when elections take place, but also and at all times to the rule of law.
Independent professions protect it. Independent press and media protect it. Ultimately, however, it is the judges who are guardians of the rule of law. That is their prime responsibility. They have a particular responsibility to protect the constitutional rights of each citizen, as well as the integrity of the constitution by which those rights exist. ...Without independence, and without respect for judicial independence, these desirable, indeed, elementary facets of a civilised community are threatened.
At the same time, no individual, or group of individuals, or even any judge, however high his office, has any dispensing power�that is, the power to set aside or disregard the law. The absence of any dispensing power was–and remains–fundamental to the rule of law. Judges cannot dispense with it. Parliament itself cannot dispense with it. None of our democratic institutions may do so. They are, of course, entitled to change it. The word, some of you will already have seen, but which you will all increasingly see, is "constitutionality." It is a word with a great future.
It is, therefore, fundamental that there are no circumstances in which the executive may even appear to tell judges how cases should be decided. Even when the public agrees with the executive at the particular time, in relation to the particular point, future public confidence that justice will be done impartially and independently will be eroded. In the end, I firmly believe that the public, even if dissatisfied with an individual decision in an individual case, wants its judiciary to be independent of the executive. What I am driving at is that the judiciary has an institutional responsibility to ensure that inefficiencies in the legal system do not, as Lord Denning once remarked, "turn justice sour".
At the very start of Bleak House, Charles Dickens identified its ability to exhaust finances, patience, courage and hope. Can you imagine anything worse than exhaustion of hope? And if hope is exhausted through the process of litigation, or a long-delayed criminal trial, how can we, as judges, disclaim any responsibility for it? A more sophisticated system of justice cannot be achieved by a government which prioritises unnecessary mega-projects over the needs of a functioning system of justice, as illustrated by the modest grant given to the judiciary.