No impeachment! PM not acting on Archie

Chief Justice Ivor Archie will not face impeachment proceedings over misconduct allegations levelled against him.

Responding to questions during the post-Cabinet press briefing at the Diplomatic Centre in St Ann's, this afternoon, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley said that he would not exercise his exclusive discretion under S137 of the Constitution to institute the proceedings against Archie. 

Rowley confirmed that he sought and received legal advice on the recommendation made by the Law Association, following an investigation by a special committee appointed by it, and was advised to take no further action. 

The controversy surrounding Archie arose in late 2017 after a series of newspaper reports accused Archie of attempting to persuade the judges to change their State-provided security in favour of a private company in which his friend and convicted fraudster Dillian Johnson worked.

Archie was also accused of attempting to fast-track Housing Development Corporation (HDC) applications for Johnson, who has been convicted of fraud. 

Shortly after the allegations surfaced, Johnson fled to the United Kingdom (UK) after he was wounded at a shooting at his home. Johnson was denied asylum by UK authorities but was allowed to stay in that court as he was granted humanitarian protection for five years. 

Archie was also linked to convicted fraudster Kern Romero, who was accused of using his alleged friendship with Archie to defraud persons. Romero died in hospital, earlier this year. 

In November 2017, the Council of the Law Association called on Archie to respond to the allegation that he discussed the judges' meeting with Johnson.

The association's council then appointed a sub-committee to investigate the allegations and sought the legal advice from Dr Francis Alexis, QC, of Grenada and Eamon Courtenay, QC, of Belize, to determine if the allegations are sufficient to trigger impeachment proceedings under S137 of the Constitution. 

While the report and the senior lawyers' advice were not made public by the association, its members voted by a large majority to recommend impeachment proceedings to Rowley. 

Under the section, the President appoints a tribunal after misconduct allegations against a CJ or judge are referred by the Prime Minister. 

The tribunal, which includes a chairman and at least two other members, all with appellate judicial experience in Commonwealth jurisdictions, will then investigate. The tribunal reports to the Privy Council, which then gives the President recommendations on what action, if any, should be taken. 

The association process was initially stymied after Archie obtained an injunction blocking the probe. The injunction was overturned by three of his colleagues from the Court of Appeal and their decision was upheld by the Privy Council in August. 

Archie has repeatedly refused to comment directly to the allegations but has denied any wrongdoing. 

In October, last year, the Judiciary issued a release over the allegations, which were rehashed in a fresh series of reports. 

Archie rejected the allegations which he described as false and recycled innuendos. 

"The Chief Justice notes the now transparent recurring modus operandi of seeking to hound him out of office using tired tactics of innuendo with reliance and comment on that innuendo," the release said. 

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