Yesterday, the Law Association issued a statement paying tribute to the late retired chief justice Clinton Bernard who died on October 26, after ailing for some time.
Following is the statement.
The Law Association of Trinidad and Tobago joins the judiciary and the country in mourning the death of retired chief justice Mr Clinton Bernard TC.
The late retired chief justice Clinton Bernard TC was born on the 31st day of May, 1931 in east Port-of-Spain Trinidad. After completing his secondary education, he first performed a stint as a teacher before pursuing his legal education in the UK where he was called to the bar in 1960 and joined the Inns of Court, London.
Upon his return to Trinidad in 1961, he was admitted to practise law and commenced a distinguished legal career at the Attorney General’s Department as a legal cadet.
He was appointed senior counsel in 1966 and a Puisne Judge of the Supreme Court in 1977.
Before that he acted as Deputy Solicitor General and Director of Public Prosecutions and was eventually appointed to the post of Deputy Solicitor General. He was appointed chief justice on December 23, 1985 and held that post until he retired on May 31, 1995.
In 1987 he was the recipient of the highest award, the Trinity Cross, for his contribution to the development of T&T.
During his tenure at the Supreme Court the late retired chief justice Bernard, TC presided over a number of cases that enhanced the legal landscape which earned him the reputation of being an eminent jurist and distinguished judge.
The late retired chief justice Bernard was known to possess a remarkable judicial temperament and ensured the fair and just dispensation of justice. He is also widely known for advocating for improved pension benefits for retired judges and in August, 2018 he launched his autobiography, Beyond the Bridge.
The tremendous public outpouring of condolences on his passing is no surprise as he was a fierce advocate for justice and had the administration of justice and the well-being of others at heart.
The late retired chief justice Bernard will also be remembered for his sage words at the Ceremonial Opening of the Law Term of the Supreme Court of T&T on Friday October 3, 1986 when he stated. “I would like to remind the country of the importance of the Judiciary in our democracy.
It is a separate organ of the State and an independent institution under the Constitution. It is in the interest and welfare of our democracy that this is so and that it should continue to be that way and, above all, appear to be that way.
Due respect and regard for the Institution in all its forms and by all and sundry is a sine qua non of and the guarantee for a peaceful and healthy democracy. Let us be clear about this in our minds: the Judiciary is the medium for safeguarding and preserving our democracy.
History records that few, if any, developed or developing societies that have reneged in this regard have survived as a democracy as we know it to be.”
The legal profession and by extension T&T has lost a great jurist and he will indeed be sorely missed by the legal fraternity.
The Law Association of T&T extends its deepest condolences to the friends and family of the late retired chief justice Clinton Bernard, TC and hopes that his legacy serves as a beacon for others to follow. May he rest in peace.