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‘Impeach CJ Archie’

BY JADA LOUTOO Friday, December 6 2013

MOVES are afoot to have Chief Justice (CJ) Ivor Archie impeached for, ‘‘seriously undermining confidence in the administration of justice and the Judiciary.’’

Leading the move to have CJ Archie impeached is convicted killer Lester Pitman, who in a letter to the head of the Judiciary, said he intends to make a complaint to Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar calling on her to exercise her powers under Section 137 of the Constitution.

Pitman, in a letter written by his attorney Criston Williams, claimed the failure of CJ Archie to deliver judgment in his appeal, for four years, “had the effect of seriously undermining confidence in the administration of justice and the judiciary.”

“The action threatens the rule of law and principles that underpin the democratic society that is Trinidad and Tobago,” Pitman said in the letter addressed to the Registrar of the Supreme Court, on CJ Archie’s behalf.

CJ Archie has been given seven days to respond to Pitman’s letter and give an explanation as to the reason for the delay in giving judgment in Pitman’s case.

Pitman said his lawyer had advised that the Judicial and Legal Service Commission had no jurisdiction to entertain a complaint against the conduct of the Chief Justice.

“In the circumstances the only avenue of redress open to my client as a result of the actions of the Honourable Chief Justice, in the late delivery of judgments, save commencing constitutional proceedings, is making a complaint to the Honourable Prime Minister calling upon her to exercise her powers under section 137 of the Constitution,” the letter stated.

The letter did not say when Pitman intends to make the complaint to the Prime Minister.

Pitman had on November 26, issued a pre-action letter to the Solicitor General giving notice that he intends to commence constitutional proceedings against the Attorney General as a result of the delay by the Court of Appeal to deliver judgment in his criminal appeal.

In 2008, the Privy Council allowed Pitman’s appeal on the basis of fresh psychiatric evidence which cast doubt on the safety of his conviction for murder and legality of the sentence of death imposed on him and co-accused Daniel Agard.

The retrial ordered for Agard came to an end in September, with him again being convicted of murder and sentenced to hang. Pitman’s case was remitted to the Court of Appeal to consider the impact of the new medical evidence. CJ Archie and Justices Paula Mae Weekes and Alice Yorke Soo-Hon presided over Pitman’s appeal and reserved judgment on March 4, 2010. To date, judgment is still pending.

Pitman, now 33, of San Juan was convicted on July 14, 2004, for the murders of Englishman John Cropper, his mother Maggie Lee and former BBC correspondent Lynette Lithgow-Pearson, sometime between December 11 and 13, 2001. On June 8, 2005, the death warrant was read to him but was rescinded after it was discovered there was a pending appeal.

In his letter to the Registrar, Pitman said he is yet to receive acknowledgment of his November 26 pre-action protocol letter. Pitman is alleging that the long wait for delivery of judgment in his appeal clearly demonstrated that he had been the subject of unequal treatment.

Contacted for comment on Pitman’s letter, Chief Protocol and Information Manager for the Judiciary, Jones P Madeira yesterday said he was not aware such a letter had been received by the Office of the Chief Justice.

The last attempt to impeach a Chief Justice was in 2005 when then prime minister Patrick Manning advised former president George Maxwell Richards to set up a tribunal to investigate whether then CJ Sat Sharma should be removed from office, after it was alleged he attempted to exert pressure on then Director of Public Prosecutions Geoffrey Henderson and former Attorney General John Jeremie, to drop a murder charge against Prof Vijay Naraynsingh.

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