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Daly: JLSC must go

Published: 
Sunday, July 23, 2017

Former Law Association president Martin Daly yesterday renewed his call for members of the Judicial and Legal Services Commission (JLSC), including its chairman Chief Justice Ivor Archie, to resign over their handling of former chief magistrate Marcia Ayers-Caesar’s appointment as a judge in April.

His latest call comes just days after lawyers for Ayers-Caesar initiated legal action against Archie and President Anthony Carmona.

Ayers-Caesar resigned shortly after being elevated to the bench because of a public uproar over 53 part heard matters she left incomplete. Since then, there have been several calls for CJ Archie to resign over the issue but he has refused. He said the JLSC was not made aware of the part heard cases before Ayers-Caesar was appointed.

“From the outset this was a very serious matter which required very stringent principles of accountability to apply,” Daly said. “The blunder was so serious that it called for the resignation of the members of the JLSC. With each passing week, the blunders are getting more and more and I am becoming more and more concerned.”

Daly, a former independent senator, also expressed concern about the alleged disappearance of legal papers filed by Ayers-Caesar’s lawyers.

“Judicial proceedings must be open to all and they must be open to be reported on by the media,” he said.

“This is a public law matter to which none of the limited exceptions could apply. This is not a matrimonial case, not a national security matter and therefore, as far as I am concerned, any attempt to make these papers disappear is action that is consistent with a totalitarian state.”

Daly said the matter is “just getting worse” and T&T is at the crossroads.

“We are just going backwards and these JLSC people have to go. They have made a huge administrative mistake,” he said.

He said he was happy to see the contents of affidavits in the Ayers-Caesar lawsuit being released, adding: “I hope we are going to see more, in which case it will make the disappearance of the papers academic but still serious but from a practical perspective and it will dissolve some of the secrecy.”

Daly said Government has moral suasion and “must make its views known but it has to be careful because anything it says it will be accused of breaching the separation of powers .”

He added: “Civil society must come to understand how very important it is not to have a discredited administration of justice, so civil society has to take it up. They (the JLSC) must resign. When you drop the ball like this you must resign and public pressure must make you have to resign.”

He said as far as he is concerned Ayers-Caesar is neither a judge nor a magistrate.

“When she was sworn in as a High Court judge, in my view that removed her appointment as a magistrate and then she resigned as a judge and therefore lost that position as well. The resignation is effective.”

He said only the court can determine otherwise.

“Some apologists are trying to say that we are making her a martyr but it is nothing of the kind. If she did not disclose the full extent of her part heard cases she was wrong and she has paid a heavy price but if she was subject to some kind of manipulation—and we don’t know if it is so—but if she was, that can’t be right. That is punishing her twice.”

Daly said a legislative intervention in the matter involving the part heard cases would be unconstitutional and is proposing three measures to resolve the issue:

• Anyone who is not on bail and has spent a length of time in prison that is close to the heaviest sentence possible should have their matters quashed.

• People who are in jail but not for an inordinate length of time and without bail should have their bail conditions softened.

• Murder cases should be retried but put on a fast track.

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