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CJ shredded, dehumanised

Sunday, March 25, 2018

When the imbroglio of Chief Justice Ivor Archie is written in our history books we may discover that what we felt about him said more about us, our fevered, gleeful picking of the sordid private details of other people’s lives; sexual squeamishness, its attendant hypocrisy, and mob mentality than it ever did about him.

His refusal to resign or engage with judge and jury outside a courtroom has opened the floodgates for a deluge of outrage: with the Law Association gathering in their hundreds in a vote of no confidence in June, gathering again in December to pave the way to create pressure for the Prime Minister to trigger section 137 with intent to get the President to form a tribunal to impeach him.

This, for various alleged misdemeanours—his injudicious, short-lived judicial appointment of former chief magistrate Marcia Ayers-Caesar; forwarding names to the Housing Development Corporation (HDC); security contracts for friends; an alleged friendship with a convicted felon who in a cinematic climax released incriminating photographs in the public.

Outrage at the Chief Justice has taken on the patina of a public trial. ‘Ivor Archie Must Go’ bubbling like lava, seeping into conversations countrywide, in chambers and homes, halls and corridors, bars and restaurants, streets and media houses.

Even the law appears to shouting down the law to this end; on March 6, hours after High Court Judge Nadia Kangaloo ruled the investigation into the CJ was ‘illegal unreasonable, irrational, and contrary to the Legal Profession Act, which established the Law Association’, the Law Association’s council declared it would ‘immediately’ lodge an appeal.

Similarly the unusual action of several judges taking out an advertisement clearing the CJ on charges of nepotism in security services seems to be irrelevant.

After a further (ongoing) furore over his proposed sabbatical, and accumulated leave of nine months, reduced from six months to six weeks, the Chief Justice has, for now, in a scenario of Catch Me If you Can, evaded the circus around him.

I spoke to a member of the judiciary on the matter. This is a summation:

“There has been an internal division and divided opinion within the legal fraternity for years over Ivor Archie’s appointment as the youngest ever CJ with growing dissatisfaction by the naysayers over his leadership and performance to the point that they wanted him out.

His sexual orientation is nobody’s business but somebody picked up on it. They started to look to the CJ to see what they could find.

In the last seven months divisions of those for and against him manifested itself forcefully.

It began last June with the vote of no confidence by the Law Association over his handling of the short-lived judicial appointment of former magistrate Marcia Ayers-Caesar who had pending matters in the Magistrates’ Court.

Regarding the HDC outrage, as CJ some leverage and benefit is accorded to him, as it is to any holder of high public office. The general principle is you have the knowledge and discipline of imparting your power in a responsible way.

Regarding his sabbatical: from a human perspective, he has taken abuse and pressure for a year. He needed a break. Judges are entitled to make application to go on sabbatical to do research.

If they had enough on him to impeach him they would have done so, months back. They don’t.

The CJ wont go easily and rightly so. The standards of judges in this country remain unbelievably high. The captain of this ship for ten years has been Ivor Archie. Nobody can dispute this.

So far there is no proof. The mob contravenes everything that stands for justice. In the interests of the principles of justice–balance, proportionality, impartiality, we need to hear from both sides of the bench before he comes home from his all too brief respite from the circus.”

That was the judge’s opinion.

In mine, those who want the CJ out may be acting in the best interest of the country, but this everyday public lynching is cruel and sadly, too usual. We have shredded and dehumanized a man. If nothing else, that should give us pause.


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