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Carmona’s dilemma

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

President Anthony Carmona’s eloquent inauguration speech in which he sought to clarify the reach as well as the limitations of his power, is about to be put to its biggest test.

Leading up to this is the long-awaited response from Marcia Ayers-Caesar, who has finally given her personal account of the High Court drama. In a detailed chronology of events, she asserted that she had done nothing wrong and resigned under duress. Accordingly, she has asked the President to rescind her resignation.

This is a woman who has had to stand by and watch her hard-earned career and her reputation fall to pieces, while being portrayed as someone who was less than ethical in her pursuit of a High Court position.

Putting all recriminations aside, what is most noteworthy, is a letter Ayers-Caesar wrote to the JLSC in which she stated in part: “...I am not aware of anything that prohibits a High Court judge from sitting as a magistrate, if this is appropriate. It is on that basis that I would be prepared, while sitting and performing my duties as a puisne judge of the High Court, to sit, in addition, as a magistrate, for the purpose of completing the part-heard matters. I would expect that within the next few days, if the JLSC agrees with this position, that I will be informed in writing of that agreement...”

Most reasonable people would find nothing wrong with that. Her suggestion was a common sense and pragmatic approach to dealing with her backlog of cases, because, after all, the role of a judge and that of a magistrate are not mutually exclusive nor are they irreconcilable in practice. Apparently the Chief Justice and the JLSC saw things differently.

It is now expected that the President would be consulting with his battery of constitutional lawyers to find out what powers he has, does not have, wish he had or glad he does not have. If he accedes to Ayers-Caesar’s request and rescinds her resignation, it is tantamount to a humiliation, a rebuke and an embarrassment to the Chief Justice. Nobody from Toco to Icacos actually believes that would happen. He might advise Ayers-Caesar that those are powers he “does not have”, or , he is just as likely to do nothing, and let the matter sit in abeyance indefinitely.

Under the circumstances, Ayers-Caesar’s only recourse would be to sue for wrongful dismissal and defamation. It would be a long, expensive and painful process and, at the end of the day, may never be enough to buy back her good name.



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