While embattled Chief Justice Sat Sharma was on Wednesday suspended on the evidence-in-chief of his main accuser Chief Magistrate Sherman McNicolls, the Judicial and Legal Service Commission (JLSC) is yet to act on its own finding that McNicolls refusal to face the test of cross-examination on allegations he made against the Chief Justice amounted to conduct "prejudicial to the administration of justice" and that he should be slapped with a disciplinary charge of misconduct.
The body governing the judiciary has remained tight-lipped on its deliberations into allegations of misconduct against the Chief Magistrate which started well over two months ago. Instead, members of the Commission secretly elected to defer the question of McNicolls' own suspension because he is yet to deliver a decision on the Piarco Airport preliminary enquiry, after a near five years of hearing.
In an extraordinary development to the ongoing and unprecedented judicial saga of a sitting Chief Justice charged with two sets of impeachment allegations, the JLSC has determined that it would do the country more harm than good to suspend the Chief Magistrate while a decision was still outstanding on the Piarco Airport enquiry.
According to the minutes of several JLSC meetings obtained by the Sunday Express, two of the Commission's members, both retired Court of Appeal judges, expressed the view that it was not in the public interest to suspend the Chief Magistrate at this time.
The question of McNicolls' suspension was raised by Selby Wooding QC, who took the chairman's seat after acting Chief Justice Roger Hamel-Smith disqualified himself for personal reasons at a special meeting of the JLSC on March 8 this year. Wooding pointed out that the Commission was the only body with the jurisdiction to discipline the Chief Magistrate and was clear that "it ought to act swiftly and decisively".
Retired Court of Appeal judges, Lionel Jones and Jean Permanand, however, expressed strong reservations on the suspension option. Jones said he doubted that a suspension of the Chief Magistrate would be in the public interest. He was noted in the JLSC minutes as saying that McNicolls was involved in a number of "important matters and his suspension could have serious repercussions".
Justice Permanand supported Jones' position, noting that: "The Commission needed to consider whether the public interest would be served by such action". In response to an enquiry from another JLSC member
Christopher Thomas, Justice Jones said that: "If the Chief Magistrate was suspended the cases he was handling would have to be restarted or deferred".
Wooding, however, made it clear that "he felt very strongly that one should not have a Chief Magistrate who had ostensibly made a mickey mouse out of the administration of justice, continuing to preside in court while allegations of misconduct were under investigation".
He referred to the complaint of deputy Director of Public Prosecutions Carla Brown-Antoine who blamed the dramatic fall of the criminal case against Sharma on McNicolls' refusal to have his evidence tested on cross-examination. But Justice Jones was equally firm that "it would do more harm than good to suspend the Chief Magistrate".
At the end of the specially convened March 8 JLSC meeting held at the Hall of Justice, agreement was reached on the following:
- that the Legal Adviser be asked to draft allegations of misconduct against the Chief Magistrate
- to appoint Justice Sebastian Ventour as investigating officer to enquire into the allegations and misconduct drafted against Chief Magistrate McNicolls
- issue a press release on the matter
- defer the question of suspension
At another meeting of the JLSC, this one on April 24, 2007, Thomas raised the issue of McNicolls' current list of high-profile cases. He wanted to know just when "the Chief Magistrate would be free of critical cases"? The Commission's secretary Cheryll Hay informed the meeting that "it had been ascertained that the only critical case currently being handled by the Chief Magistrate was the Piarco case and he was due to hand down his judgment on the matter around May 24, 2007." McNicolls, however, indicated in May that he needed more time to look at the transcripts and he would give a decision in July.
And while members of the Commission privately weighed the merits of whether the disciplinary tribunal should comprise one or three persons and also whether retired persons could be used in the procedure that would follow the preferment of a disciplinary charge, they appeared nowhere closer to solving the McNicolls question of alleged misconduct while a verdict was still outstanding on the Piarco corruption case.
On the Ventour report, Wooding said: "It could be concluded from the report that the actions of the Chief Magistrate amounted to conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice". He said such a finding was not inconsistent with the facts presented in the case against McNicolls.
Wanton fuckery! I so fuckin pissed that I cyah even find fuckin words to write about this mudder cunt and this fuckin banana republic we livin in.
How the mudder cunt all yuh could find the man making a mockery of justice in trinidad and fuckin still considering whether all yuh should slap ah charge of disciplinary conduct on em. Slap em wid the mudder cunt charge, just how slap fuckin Sharma wid ah suspension.
What d fuck this whole thing saying is that this Mc Nicholls could make fucking allegation against the Chief Justice and he being the accused is already presumed guilty by suspending him. Isnt it that a man is presumed innocent until proven guilty. Meanwhile this bribe taking mudder cunt, who is afraid of being cross examined in court where dey could charge he ass when dey ketch em lying is free to continue to make decisions against people who are embroiled in this imbroglio.
And who are these fuckin Judges to determine that to suspend the CM would do the country more good than harm. Follow the fuckin law and send he mudder cunt back to Ste Madeline leh em go and plant cane on the State lands that he and ee family squatting on.
I so fuckin mad eh.
Go for the gullet man, coward fuckers!