Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Bas wants Espinet to step down

Wednesday, February 13 2008

LAWYERS for former Prime Minister Basdeo Panday want Magistrate Ejenny Espinet to step down from hearing his bribery case.

Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj SC, lead counsel for Panday and his wife Oma, submitted yesterday in the Port-of-Spain First Magistrates’ Court that Espinet was a trustee of the Morris Marshall Development Foundation in Laventille.

Maharaj said the Marshall Foundation promotes the activities of the ruling People’s National Movement (PNM) which is opposed to Panday’s United National Congress (UNC).

He said there could be a public perception that the magistrate was promoting the aims of the Foundation. Maharaj said he had evidence that persons who went to the Foundation for assistance were told they must carry a PNM party card. He said when Panday’s case went before the magistrate, she had a duty to tell the lawyers that she was a trustee of the Foundation.

The Tabaquite MP said apart from Espinet being a trustee, there were other names on the list such as John Jeremie and Martin Joseph.

“This is a very sensitive matter,” Maharaj added. “I am serving notice that if you decide against me after hearing my submissions, I will not call evidence, but I would test it in the High Court.”

Maharaj added, “The politics in the country are very much alive, the country is divided politically. Here is a magistrate who is involved in a Foundation started by a former PNM Minister.”

Maharaj said there was the likelihood of apparent bias and cited the case of Panday v Virgil in which the Leader of the Opposition was charged with failing to declare a London bank account to the Integrity Commission.

He also cited the case of Pinochet in which Lord Hoffmann was accused of apparent bias because of his wife’s links to Amnesty International. After hearing the submissions, Espinet said she would give her decision on February 19.

But Panday and his wife were excused because they are expected to be in London for his Privy Council appeal as to whether he should be retried on the integrity charges.

Ishwar Galbaransingh, Carlos John, and the Pandays are charged with a series of offences which allege that Galbaransingh and John gave Panday £25,000 as a bribe to favour Galbaransingh’s Northern Construction Limited in the tendering process for Piarco Construction Package 3 back in December 1998.

Ejenny is a fockin PNM stooge. Sitting and hearing this matter without telling the fockin people that you and your PNM assholes were in the same organisation.

LEAP is ah PNM party group. Check the list of the Board of Trustees:

Morris Marshall
Fr. Clyde Harvey
Mr Martin Joseph
Ms. Donna Prowell-Raphael
Mr. Carlston Clarke
Mr. John Jeremie
Mr. Albert Joseph
Ms. Carolyn Washington Aigle
Me. Joslyn Mc Leod-Smith
Ms. Linda Hollingsworth
Ms. Ejenny Espinet
Mr. Jack Alexsis
Ms. Debbie Jeremie
Ms. Ayanna Atiba-Braithwaite
Mr. Raphael George.

Bas right again, he could never get a fair trial for anything in T&T!
Put that in yuh bamsee and smoke it!

24 comments:

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The Annual General Meeting of the Law Association of Trinidad and Tobago will soon be held. On that day, lawyers shall elect from amongst them their President and persons who shall form the executive Council of their Association for the coming year.

The Law Association performs many functions. It acts to further the interests of the legal profession. It also has a role to play in professional discipline and the education of its members, as well as of the public.

Most persons are familiar with the Association by virtue of its occasional public statements on matters of legal or national interest. Many of these statements have been critical of the government of the day, regardless of which political party happens to be in power. Some of the Association's positions in recent years have even been opposite to that of the Judiciary.

That is not in any way surprising.

The Law Association is mandated by the Legal Profession Act, 1986, to inter alia protect and assist the public in Trinidad and Tobago in all matters relating to the law, and to promote, maintain and support the administration of justice and the rule of law.

Accordingly, the Association, and by extension its Council, has an important role to play in our democracy, as a fearless and respected voice of reason. It can be viewed as almost "judicial" in nature.

Independent institutions are important safeguards against abuse of power. The Law Association is one of these institutions. However, there is one significant difference. Unlike other independent bodies, the Council of the Law Association is elected by its members, rather than selected.

It is therefore the duty of its members, the Attorneys, to elect a Council which is, or appears to be, capable of carrying out its statutory mandate fearlessly, independently and without bias or favour.

The coming year is a critical one in the life of our Republic. There will be proposed legislation which will affect fundamental human rights and freedoms. There are issues to be dealt with involving amendments to the Legal Profession Act to bring it in line with the CSME. The new Land Law package of legislation is also on the agenda.

Last but by no means least, is the Draft Constitution.

While I accept that any Council should constitute a wide cross section of professional interests, there should be no room in the Council for party hacks of any type, nor for those with personal or political agendas.

Members of the profession must ensure the integrity of their Council.

Despite their best intentions, those who are regular recipients of State briefs or legal work from State institutions ought not to sit. Likewise, those with family or close connections to ruling party or opposition politicians should decline, since the appearance of bias is as destructive to the institution as actual bias.

I can put it no better that the following dicta from The Supreme Court of Canada in the case of Attorney General v. Law Society of British Columbia, [1982] 2 S.C.R. 307 at 335:

"The independence of the Bar from the state in all of its pervasive manifestations is one of the hallmarks of a free society. Consequently, regulation of these members of the law profession by the state must, so far as by human ingenuity it can be so designed, be free from state interference, in the political sense, with the delivery of services to the individual citizens in the state, particularly in fields of public and criminal law. The public interest in a free society knows no area more sensitive than the independence, impartiality and availability to the general public of the members of the Bar and through those members, legal advice and services generally."

I hope that the lawyers take this into account when it is time to choose their President and Council on March 14th, 2008.

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