Unfazed by the threat of legal action from embattled Chief Justice Ivor Archie, the Law Association of T&T is moving ahead with its plans to investigate and discuss allegations levelled against him with its members.
The association yesterday issued a notice to to members inviting them to a special general meeting on March 15 at 3 pm to discuss the issue. However, Queen’s Hall, St Ann’s, has been chosen as the venue instead of the Hall of Justice, Port-of-Spain, where all the association’s general meetings are normally held. The T&T Guardian understands the new location was chosen as the association expects a record attendance at the meeting.
According to the agenda for the meeting, members are expected to consider a report on the allegations against Archie, prepared by a special committee of the association’s executive council, and legal advice on the report which was solicited from eminent regional Queen’s Counsels Dr Francis Alexis and Eamon Courtenay. The members are then expected to vote on what course of action, if any, should be taken.
The notice was issued days after the association rejected a legal threat from Archie seeking to force it to desist from its probe. In his pre-action protocol letter, sent last Thursday, Archie questioned whether an investigation was within the association’s remit under the Legal Profession Act. His lawyers also accused the association of being biased based on the no confidence motion it last year passed against him and members of the Judicial and Legal Service Commission (JLSC), over their handling of the short-lived judicial appointment of former chief magistrate Marcia Ayers-Caesar in June last year.
In its response, the association said it is required to “represent and protect the interests of the legal profession” and it is entitled to investigate where allegations made concerning the conduct of the CJ can negatively impact on confidence in the administration of justice. Its lawyers also rejected claims by Archie that Section 137 of the Constitution provides the only avenue to investigate his conduct.
Archie had threatened to file his lawsuit and seek and injunction against the association yesterday if it had not acceded to his request. However, legal sources said it was not filed up to late yesterday.
The controversy surrounding Archie arose late last year in a series of media reports which accused him of using his office to request Housing Development Corporation housing for people he knew and that he discussed the issue of security for judges with someone who was not a judge. Archie has responded to the allegations once via press release, denying he discussed judges’ security with anyone but admitting to suggesting persons for HDC housing. However, he has repeatedly refused the association’s request to directly respond to the allegations.
Source: www.guardian.co.tt (Derek Achong)