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Law students argue ‘Section 44’

By JULIEN NEAVES Saturday, November 9 2013

A government being taken to court after retroactively repealing a piece of legislation called “Section 44”. A man taking a government to court after being detained by immigration due to his sexual orientation.

Though these cases may sound like newspaper headlines they were actually cases being presented by law students from the United States and Caribbean countries participating in the American Caribbean Law Initiative Caribbean Law Clinic. The presentations were made at the Office of the Attorney General in Port-of-Spain yesterday.

The Section 44 case was a mock examination of the repeal of the Section 34 law that sought to free persons on charges for more than 10 years, while the sexual orientation case was also a mock examination of gay Jamaican lawyer Maurice Tomilson’s challenge of this country’s immigration laws.

Participating law schools included Hugh Wooding Law School, Norman Manley Law School, Eugene Dupuch Law School, Charlotte law School, Florida Coastal Law School, Nova Southeastern Law School and Stetson Law School. Most of the students spoke clearly and confidently during the presentations.

The judges for the event were retired Justice of Appeal Humphrey Stollmeyer, Chairman of the Tax Appeal Board Justice Anthony Gafoor and attorney Ian Benjamin. Also present were Acting Chief Justice Paula Mae Weekes and Solicitor General Eleanor Donaldson-Honeywell. Attorney General Anand Ramlogan in his remarks expressed hope that the process would be an enriching and rewarding experience for the students. He told them that passion is an essential aspect for lawyers.

“And I known for being a passionate person and a passionate lawyer often times to the detriment of my opponent and indeed the court itself, because I have often gotten trouble for that,” he said. He noted humour and wit are also “essential traits” in the court for judges who are overworked, overburdened and some would say underpaid.

“You can deploy it with good practical effect to lighten the mood and to assist the court in receiving your submission,” he said.

He noted that you should have a conversation with the court and not just regurgitate information. He also spoke of the benefits of mediation noting that the burden of case backlogs has led to alternative dispute resolution and transformed an otherwise “adversarial litigation system”. He noted that mediation has been an “outstanding success” in this country, particularly in the family and civil court systems and has been able to “dynamite” the “lock jam” in the system.

“The success of mediation in a culture such as ours in the Caribbean is one that augurs well for the administration of justice,” he said.

He noted you have two parties with a problem sitting around a table with their legal representatives and a facilitator and it changes from a “win/lose” situation because the aim is “win/win” situation.

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