refusal of Satnarine Sharma to resign as Chief Justice
has only had the effect of positioning both himself and
the nation in an lose-lose situation.
The series of unfortunate events that has transpired has
only had the effect of damaging the publics confidence
in the judiciary, tarnishing the Chief Justices
image and making T&T the topic of concern among lawyers
and Caribbean leaders.
This is indeed ground-breaking and the only positive aspect
of this whole scenario is that we are once more given
an opportunity to show how mature we are as a nation.
The bottom line is, though, he should have resigned as
others have suggested.
Public confidence in the judiciary has certainly decreased
as a result of this stalemate between the State and the
CJ. The Chief Justice has been claiming that the Executive,
ie the Government, is directly interfering with the judicial
process. For the life of me I just cannot identify exactly
where the interference by the Government would have taken
However, it was the CJ who filed an injunction to prevent
the Prime Minister from advising the President to set
up a tribunal to investigate the claims of misbehaviour
in public office made against him.
It was the CJ who made history by being the first person
in T&T to get a court order preventing all members
of the police service and auxiliary service from issuing
a warrant for his arrest. The amazing point is this was
achieved without the State being represented at the sittings.
The fallout of this is that we now have members of the
legal fraternity throwing words at each other in the public
domain over this issue.
Another situation that has arisen is that now the average
citizen is educated about the fact that they have the
option of filing an injunction to prevent any member of
the police service from arresting them. I am sure we are
going to hear a lot of this in the near future.
These moves by the Chief Justice may have won him a few
battles, but they have come at the heavy price of reinforcing
the publics opinion that there is one law for the
rich and another for the poor.
The CJs image
The CJs public image has no doubt taken a beating
as a result of this impasse. Whether he is proven to be
right or wrong, the strain of being at the centre of all
this confusion must be overwhelming and it would be surprising
if he is not affect by it all.
He has already had to deal with one impeachment procedure
delayed, two allegations of interference with justice,
three legal functionaries suggesting improper behaviour
by him, and four injunctions granted or amended.
Attempting to look at the situation from the CJs
point of view, that the Executive via Mr Manning was attacking
the judiciary through the Chief Justice, does not explain
the actions of several of the CJs colleagues over
the pass few weeks.
The Chief Justice claims to be protecting the judiciary
by taking this stance but how much good has come of it
can be debated. One can also argue that he has mainly
been on the defensive with his tactics rather than employing
strategies to highlight the improprieties by the Government.
At the end of it all, even if the CJ were to come out
with everything he might want with respect to his position
as Chief Justice, it is unlikely he will emerge unscathed.
No real winner
The CJs decision not to resign has only created
a situation where there would be no real winner when the
dust clears. If the State is successful in laying charges
against him, then the integrity of the judiciary would
be compromised as a result.
However, if the CJ is successful in his bid to avoid begin
investigated and even impeached, then the State would
be viewed as trying to influence and even attack our independent
judicial system. This may result in the ruling party going
into the next election with an unwanted cloud over its
This is indeed a defining time in our countrys history
and as I would have stated in previous articles, we must
deal with this and the many other challenges with the
maturity of a developed nation.
Wesley George is the education officer of the PNM National
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