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Published: 
Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Chief Justice Ivor Archie wrote to President Anthony Carmona in November last year requesting the sabbatical leave, indicating that he needed time to “rest, reflect and undertake a programme of study that will have important implications for the jurisprudence of Trinidad and Tobago as well as other Caribbean states.”

He argued that “academic writing in the particular area of study that I propose to undertake is almost non-existent.” He said the Federal Judicial Centre in Washington DC had approved his application to be its visiting Foreign Judicial Fellow for a period of up to six months.

By letter dated November 6, 2017, the Director of International Judicial Relations Office at the Federal Judicial Centre Mira Gur-Arie wrote to Archie informing him that his application to the center’s Visiting Foreign Judicial Fellows Program had been accepted.

The proposed fellowship she said for a period of 4-6 months beginning in March 2018 was “acceptable.”

Two days later Archie wrote to Carmona seeking permission to be out of the jurisdiction for a six month period from March 11 to August 2018. By letter dated February 5, Carmona approved the sabbatical leave.

However, it was only when the request to the PM was made by President’s House to appoint Justice Alan Mendonca as the acting Chief Justice for the six-month period that the PM became aware that the CJ would be out of the country for the six-month period.

The PM wrote to Carmona asking for answers on his approval of the sabbatical leave.

On Monday in his response, Carmona reaffirmed his decision. On receipt of the response PM Rowley informed the country in a brief press release that he was “examining the situation and will report to the country in short order.”

SECTION 137 OF THE CONSTITUTION

Under Section 137 (3), Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley has the power to communicate to President Anthony Carmona about investigating whether the judge/Chief Justice should be removed from office.

The process for impeachment of a judge:

The Prime Minister refers a report of misbehaviour to the President.

The President calls a tribunal of eminent judges to investigate the allegation.

The tribunal gets back to the President with the results of their investigation and, if necessary, a recommendation.

Where necessary, the matter is either handled immediately, or taken to the Judicial Committee.

.If suspension of the judge is required, it is at the President’s discretion to revoke the suspension, acting on the advice of the Prime Minister.

The last time section 137 was invoked was in 2006 under deceased Prime Minister Patrick Manning and involved then CJ Sat Sharma.

The President appointed the three-member tribunal comprising Lord Mustill, Denis Morrison and Sir Vincent Floissac to investigate allegations of misbehaviour levelled against Sharma. The Mustil report cleared the CJ of any wrong doing.

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