Tuesday 28th November, 2006

 

Judge Myers resigns

I will cease to be a problem

 
 
 
 
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Justice David Myers

I have always been a fierce defender of judicial independence, I have never taken the view that I, or any other judge, was a sacred cow. It was and is clear to me that through personal management failures, to adopt the cliche, I bit off far more than I could chew. That is my failure, for which I am ultimately responsible.

High Court Judge David Myers says he holds no animosity against anyone and that he simply wants to leave the judiciary gracefully. He also admits to having a series of outstanding judgments and that if he had more time to do it over again he would manage his time properly.

He was responding yesterday to an exclusive report in the Sunday Guardian which stated that he had been asked to stop sitting on cases until he had cleared a hefty list of outstanding judgments. The story was written by editor of the Sunday Guardian Sita Bridgemohan.

Following is Myers’ full response to the article.

Dear Sir:

I would be grateful if you could allow me to comment on Ms Sita Bridgemohan’s column carried in today’s Sunday edition.

First, and by way of preliminary comment, though I spoke to the Chief Justice (Ag.), and told him that I would be writing to you, I did not discuss the contents of this letter with him.

So, may I make it clear that nothing I say (or the fact that I am saying anything at all) reflects official\judiciary policy, or the judiciary’s formal position.

Second, I was surprised at your columnist’s figure for my outstanding judgments. Hers is the one that I saw on a rough list presented to me by the Registrar of the Supreme Court, at the request of the Chief Justice (Ag.) about two weeks ago.

At the request of the Chief Justice (Ag), my secretary and I went through it and checked it. We identified matters in which I was awaiting further final submissions from attorneys, and one in which I simply had no further part to play.

This removed some 15 matters from the rough list, a fact which I communicated to the Chief Justice’s office, at the Chief Justice’s request. Therefore, I cannot think that the figure officially provided by the judiciary in response to Mr Ramlogan’s application could have been the figure reported by your columnist. However, I readily accept that the figure is still hefty.

Third, it was reported in at least one daily newspaper in September last year that I had resigned.

At the time, the judiciary did not clarify the position, although I had not then resigned. This must have been clear to that newspaper’s judiciary sources, as those sources presumably read the private and confidential letter that I had written to the substantive Chief Justice, both in his capacity as Chief Justice and Chairman of the Judicial and Legal Service Commission.

I had indicated to him that I had become miserable in my job (not least because of the state of my work) and that I wanted to discuss departing before the normal retirement age. I was then uncertain whether I could retire early, or whether I would have to resign. The Judicial and Legal Service Commission (and the substantive Chief Justice) explained things to me in an exchange of correspondence.

Once that had been clarified, I decided that I would not provide the Judicial and Legal Service Commission with an effective resignation date, until I had a better grip on how much longer it would take me to complete my commitments. I did give them an indication of October 2006 as my hoped target date for completion of all matters.

Fourth, my commitments were not (and are not) confined simply to outstanding judgments. I also had a large number, at the time in excess of twenty-five, “part-heards”, that is incomplete trials, together with other matters which had already been fixed to start in front of me, but had yet to start.

For example, when I was told in September 2005 that I should stop doing new matters, I had already been rostered to sit in Tobago. The substantive Chief Justice explained that he preferred that I should not keep that commitment.

He was unable to find a judge to take my place, so I was obliged to go to Tobago, where I had to start new matters, some of which I finished, and four of which remain part-heard. Three of them were and are substantial land matters.

I have also heard several matters which had previously been given firm trial dates in front of me, a fact of which the substantive Chief Justice would have been aware had he read the newspapers over the past few weeks.

Therefore, it is simply inaccurate to say that I am being paid for a period during which I have heard no new cases. Further, and in any event, part-heard cases are still cases. I have not simply been sitting at home writing judgments. I estimate that to complete all my part-heard matters may well involve somewhere between four and five sitting months.

Taking both my incomplete trials and written work into account, I decided some two weeks ago to write to the Chief Justice (Ag.) and provide him with an effective resignation date of 31 October, 2007.

So, within a historically insignificant further period of time, I will cease to be a problem.

Finally, while I have always been a fierce defender of judicial independence, I have never taken the view that I, or any other judge, was a sacred cow. It was and is clear to me that through personal management failures, to adopt the cliche, I bit off far more than I could chew. That is my failure, for which I am ultimately responsible, whatever the difficulties inherent in the lot of a Trinidad and Tobago trial judge.

It is I who must do what I can to make things right by departing early, but after I have completed my commitments.

Yours faithfully

David A Myers

Judge

 

 

 

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