of state enterprise, T&T Justice Co, Ltd
least one attorney, in the live audience of the law-term opening,
was impressed by the performing skills of Chief Justice Ivor
chief rehearsed that speech very well, he said, in the
hearing of a Guardian reporter who thought the lawyer hadnt
noticed the two teleprompters unfolding the lines spoken by
the star of the show.
For viewers like me, watching it on TV, it was, indeed, a
show, an elaborate, public-sector production, with illustrations
projected as in a PowerPoint presentation.
Eight months in the job, the Chief Justice offered more promises
based on his aims, and attitude linked to his style, than
any accounting due to his stewardship.
The leading man in the cast of judges showed himself sensitive
to production values. He announced a one-hour monologue and,
self-deprecatingly later, acknowledged it when he talked beyond
his self-imposed limit.
In between, when he noted on air some audio trouble, it was
The Ivor Archie Show, then, proclaimed a Chief Justice chancellery
that assigns priority to being both correct and viewer-friendly.
Remembering the maker of his appointment, he took his text
from fresh remarks by President Richards. He proposed the
law-term opening as the rededication...and recommissioning
of a major institution.
Viewers with antennas configured like mine will have read
into recommissioning an implication that the judiciary
had earlier been decommissioned.
In recommissioning, such viewers pick up some
resonance with an immediate past of roiling, potentially mortal,
conflict that engulfed the judiciary and almost destroyed
the former Chief Justice.
Last week, Chief Justice Archie did not consciously invoke
that past as a point of departure, nor as a heritage yielding
lessons for tomorrow.
The drums and colours, any clanging of shields bespeaking
the forearming that comes from forewarning: all were restricted
to the Defence Force show in the street outside.
Inside the Hall of Justice, the chancellery being unveiled
stressed its character as non-ideological, non-threatening
to, unthreatened by the executive, and generally
It took its text also from the Manning administrations
gospel of Vision 2020.
Forget the calf-length black gown piped in red and white,
and the roman collar, with the fan-shaped, lacy bib, frothing
down his chest: those visuals of Chief Justice livery recall
a high clerical functionary of medieval times.
Hear, instead, soundbites and the buzzwords that present Mr
Archie as the today CEO of a state enterprise, operating in
a service industry called justice.
From managerial-language terms such as cementing,
positioning, outreach, open
communication, roll-out, thinking
out of the box, and adding value, you derive
the odd sense of a judicial business seeking to gain market
share in an open economy.
Does a judiciary have customers? Under CEO Archie,
T&T Judiciary Ltd not only runs customer-relations
desks, but also works with partners, seeking to
maintain visible and transparent collaboration.
From the mouth of the engineer-turned-jurist easily falls
tech terms such as WAN and bandwidth,
as facilitating factors for, among other things, video conferencing
in the courts.
He holds technological savvy as one defining criterion
for judges who would be upwardly mobile.
Till now, that hadnt been stressed as a qualification
for high judicial office. But todays world is what it
Still, the present cannot avoid being haunted by the past.
As the Chief Justice spoke on Tuesday, cameras panned in the
audience the whiskery visage of Chief Magistrate Sherman NcNicolls,
anti-heroic main man in the Manning administrations
machinations to unseat, and jail, former Chief Justice Sat
Mr Sharma eventually retired with his pension, shaken by the
experience, but without a criminal record.
The reputation of former Attorney General John Jeremie, leading
general of Mr Manning in the anti-Sharma crusade, was damaged
if not destroyed.
Arising from his role in the Sharma persecution and prosecution,
Chief Magistrate McNicolls is still fighting serious disciplinary
The blood on the floor has hardly dried in an episode the
Mustill tribunal described, last year, with amazement and
hardly disguised scandal:
see the Chief Justice publicly arrested, and later ushered
three times into the dock in a criminal court to undergo a
summary trial on charges, based on allegations by the Chief
Magistrate, and then on the last occasion ushered out again
in consequence of the refusal by the Chief Magistrate to give
evidence against him...
is impossible to make sense of this episode.
Exactly one year after the Mustill tribunal opened, Chief
Justice Archie blandly referred to it all as a controversy.
This usage airbrushes the historical fact that, by due legal
process presided over by a lord, a knight and a Queens
Counsel, the controversy had been resolved in
Mr Sharmas favour.
He had survived years of being targeted by the Manning administration,
having been reduced to public begging for funds to fight the
case he eventually won.
It had once happened long before Sat Sharma. That episode
had been revisited before the Mustill tribunals sittings
Chief Justice Archie, reaching out for contemporary buzzwords
and cliches, even grabbed hold of Barack Obamas audacity
He dares to hope what happened to Sharma cant happen
Or, not to him.