CJ stays out
By ANDRE BAGOO Wednesday, October 10 2012
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CJ Ivor Archie...
CHIEF JUSTICE Ivor Archie yesterday said he would not intervene on the issue of a request that High Court Judge Justice Vasheist Kokoram recuse himself from court cases brought by deputy chairman of the Integrity Commission Gladys Gafoor, since that request does not involve an allegation of misconduct.
“The Honourable Chief Justice Mr Justice Ivor Archie wishes to assure the national community that he will do nothing to compromise the integrity of the judicial process or bring the administration of justice into disrepute by intervening in the matter,” Archie said yesterday in a statement issued by his spokesman, in response to an exclusive report in yesterday’s Newsday.
The Chief Justice’s statement came hours before Kokoram sits at the Port-of-Spain High Court today to hear submissions on the question of his recusal.
Today’s hearing is expected to deal with submissions by lawyers acting for Gafoor who query Kokoram’s place on the Mediation Board appointed by President George Maxwell-Richards; a reported application to the Ministry of the Attorney General for the members of that Board to have a fee; and the place of the Board as persons in public life before the Integrity Commission.
President George Maxwell Richards, the Ministry of the Attorney General and the Integrity Commission have, at one stage or another, been named in lawsuits brought by Gafoor challenging her suspension, forced recusal and a decision by the President to appoint a tribunal to probe her.
The Chief Justice stated a letter on the question of the recusal of the judge, was not addressed to him but rather copied to his attention.
He said yesterday’s statement was issued, “consequent upon media reports today surrounding a private and confidential letter written to the presiding judge requesting him to recuse himself from the Integrity Commission matter currently before the Supreme Court.”
“The Chief Justice, in response to media queries today, points out that he was not written to directly but copied on a letter sent to the presiding judge,” the statement, issued by court protocol officer Jones P Maderia, said.
The issues raised in the letter, according to the Chief Justice, did not contain an accusation of misconduct. “The Chief Justice says since the document in no way accused the judge of any misconduct, his hope is that the letter was not intended to have him intervene in the matter, which would be at best misguided and certainly inappropriate,” the statement said.
The question of misconduct of a judge is one for the Judicial and Legal Service Commission, a judicial disciplinary body chaired ex officio by the Chief Justice. Archie outlined the procedure by which applications for recusal are made.
“The Chief Justice is confident that counsel would be aware of the appropriate procedure where there is an allegation of apparent bias in any matter before the Court,” the statement said. “Application must first be made before the presiding judge who must be guided only by his or her judicial oath and conscience and the well known authorities on the subject of recusal on the basis of apparent bias.”
Archie noted the matter may be subject to appeal.
Today’s hearing is set for 12 noon at Court-Room III, Hall of Justice and comes in the same week when another judge, Justice Ronnie Boodoosingh, has been asked to recuse himself in relation to a case brought by the Highway Re-route Movement. Lawyers in that case are to make further submissions in relation to that matter where a party to the proceedings is related to the judge, next week.