Lawyers representing former chief magistrate Marcia Ayers-Caesar have been given the green light to cross-examine Chief Justice Ivor Archie in her ongoing case where she claimed she was pressured to resign after to her appointment as a judge in 2017.
In a 28-page judgement delivered at the Hall of Justice in Port-of-Spain, on Wednesday, Appellate Judges Peter Jamadar and Gregory Smith ruled that presiding judge David Harris made an error when he denied Ayers-Caesar the opportunity to question Archie over his claims in the case.
Jamadar, who wrote the judgement, suggested that the process was necessary based on a strong dispute between the parties over what transpired when Ayers-Caesar tendered her resignation on April 27, 2017 after it was discovered she left 53 cases unfinished.
“There is no apparent middle ground in their experiences and recollections of the matters in dispute between them. Both have supporting testimony. Both lay claim to corroborating evidence.
Each insists that the other is mistaken and wrong and that all of their assertions are accurate and right,” Jamadar said.
He suggested that cross-examination would be vital in helping Harris determine the “exceptional and extraordinary” circumstances of the case.
While Jamadar and Smith allowed the cross-examination, they stated that it should be limited to the factual disputes in the case.
In addition to Archie, Ayers-Caesar is also being allowed to question the evidence of three of the JLSC’s witnesses — its secretary Coomarie Goolabsingh and Archie’s former associates and current High Court Masters Sherlanne Pierre and Jade Rodriguez.
As a secondary issue in the appeal, Jamadar and Smith were also asked to review Harris’ decision to deny Ayers-Caesar’s other application to make a minor amendment to her claim.
Jamadar ruled that the amendment was based on new evidence from the JLSC, which was disclosed after the lawsuit was filed and that it was in keeping with Ayers-Caesar’s overall claims against the JLSC.
“It is very difficult to understand why this amendment was refused...The amendment makes essentially the same claim, except it was re-framed in terms of the content of the three decisions now disclosed in the minutes of the JLSC,” Jamadar said.
Jamadar also suggested that Harris expedite the case as it has not yet scheduled to go to trial.
“It is our hope, that it will be given the unconditional priority that it demands in the national interest, and heard and determined within as short a time as is reasonably possible,” he said.
Ayers-Caesar is being represented by Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj, SC, and Ronnie Bissessar, while Deborah Peake, SC, and Ian Benjamin, SC, are representing the JLSC and Archie.
Reporter: Derek Achong