By Caribbean News Now contributor
PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad -- The chief justice of Trinidad and Tobago, Ivor Archie, has alleged that there is an orchestrated conspiracy to remove him from office. He made the startling assertion at a meeting of the country’s Supreme Court judges at the Hall of Justice in Port-of-Spain on Monday.
Chief Justice Ivor Archie
Archie’s claim came in the wake of media reports of a pre-action protocol letter sent by attorney at law Criston Williams to the Solicitor-General’s office threatening to file a constitutional motion against Archie and the judiciary over astonishing three- and four-year delays in the handing down of appeal judgments.
The delays allegedly breached his clients’ constitutional rights, Williams said.
Archie has also come under fire in relation to his overseas travel and delays in dealing with civil litigation initiated by the People’s Partnership coalition government against former public officials accused of mismanagement and fraud.
In a second letter, to the Supreme Court Registrar last Thursday, Williams said he intended to send a complaint to Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, asking her to exercise her discretion under Section 137 of the Constitution, which deals with impeachment proceedings against a chief justice.
Two convicted men -- Lester Pitman and Gerald Wilson -- have been awaiting appeal judgments in their cases for three and four years, respectively.
According to court documents, judgment in Pitman’s case was reserved on March 4, 2010, by a three-judge Appeal Court panel comprising Archie and Justices Paula-Mae Weekes and Alice Yorke-Soo Hon.
Judgment was reserved in Wilson’s appeal on November 10, 2009, but to date the judgments have not been handed down, despite the men being incarcerated on Death Row.
In response to Williams’ letter, Chief State Solicitor Christophe Grant wrote, “We have taken note of the very serious issues raised in your aforesaid letter and will endeavour to provide an expeditious response to same within the usual timelines for these sort of matters.”
The Appeal Court has since announced that it intends to hand down its decisions in the Pitman and Wilson cases next Wednesday.