There is widespread speculation in judicial circles over the future of Chief Magistrate Sherman Mc Nicolls. This comes as Mc Nicolls has put in a sick-leave application for 90 days, one day prior to the end of a two-week vacation. Two Thursdays ago Chief Justice Ivor Archie appointed Deputy Chief Magistrate Mark Wellington to act in Mc Nicolls' absence and senior Tunapuna Magistrate Indra Ramoo-Haynes as acting Deputy Chief Magistrate. Archie's decision left much to be desired in the minds of judicial officers across the country, particularly at the Port-of-Spain Magistrates' Court where Mc Nicolls presides. Mc Nicolls' additional leave is expected to expire on March 20, and he ought to resume duty on March 22.
However, judicial officers, speaking with the Sunday Guardian on condition of anonymity, said this was "hardly likely." A source added: "It is everybody's guess what would happen on March 20, which is a Saturday. "Come March, he may either submit a further sick leave (certificate), or go into his vacation which is approximately one year," the source said. "We don't think that he's going to come back." Mc Nicolls, who turns 55 in December, has served approximately 30 years in the public service. The Privy Council is expected to hand down a decision soon on whether Mc Nicolls should face a disciplinary tribunal for his refusal to testify in a criminal matter involving former chief justice, Satnarine Sharma.
The Judicial and Legal Services Commission brought six disciplinary charges against Mc Nicolls after his refusal to testify causing the case against Sharma to collapse. In the event the Privy Council rules against Mc Nicolls, he would face the tribunal and his pension and other benefits would be at stake. One magistrate said: "When his (Mc Nicolls') vacation expires, he would then tender his (retirement) papers, and if by that time there are no findings made adverse to him, he would be able to retire with his full benefits." The judicial officer added that those provisions are contained in the Public Service Regulations. "It's a wait-and-see approach, even though I think he has had enough and he is taking all his leave and might not come back," another magistrate said.