Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : April 8th 2017 Contents A6 news
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DPP: No staff to support
Director of Public Prosecutions
(DPP) Roger Gaspard is to meet with
Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi to
discuss concerns about the Crimi-
nal Procedures Rules and the role of
prosecutors to make them effective.
Gaspard was speaking during yes-
terday's meeting of the Joint Select
Committee on National Security at J
Hamilton Maurice Room, Tower D, In-
ternational Waterfront Centre, Wright-
son Road, Port-of-Spain.
He said the Criminal Procedures Rules
seeks to enhance the efficiency and ex-
peditious treatment and movement of
criminal cases throughout the criminal
He said one of the core features of
those proposed new rules was the es-
tablishment of case progression officers.
Gaspard said the responsibility of
those officers will be to liaise with judges
and other case progression officers to
ensure the efficient management, han-
dling and movement of cases through
the criminal justice system.
But he stressed: "Because of the struc-
ture of support that the DPP's office
currently enjoys or doesn't enjoy, the
implementation of the Criminal Pro-
cedure Rules, while its an overriding
objective is quite noble and sensible,
has made for some problem."
"Some people are of the view that you
can merely task administrative staff in
the DPP's office, so as to have them play
the role of case progression officers. But
the administrative staff in the DPP's Of-
fice they have certain job specifications
which may not allow them to play the
role of case progression officers."
The DPP added: "If they play such a
role it might be that they are doing so
He said: "The role of the case pro-
gression officer, some people are of
the view is particularly onerous," add-
ing that "the culture of some officers in
the public service quite clearly I envisage
would clash with such an onerous bur-
den being placed on them especially in
circumstances where those burdens do
not fall within the four corners of their
"Where are the case progression of-
ficers to come from," he asked, noting
that his office does not hire staff.
Gaspard said one of the curious things
about the Criminal Procedures Rules
Committee was that the DPP was not
among its membership. He said the DPP
has to liaise with the AG "to ascertain
from where might we source these case
progression officers, since we may not
be able to source them from the current
complement of staff in the DPP's Office."
"While some persons are of the view
that you can task attorneys to be case
progression officers, in my respectful
view, that is not the role of any attorney
in the DPP's Office."
He also said he is not averse to sup-
porting a system of plea bargaining.
Gaspard said he "absolutely embraced
plea bargaining" in principle, adding
that "the form it takes was a separate
He said that even without plea bar-
gaining act, his office "has been in the
business of plea bargaining." Parliament
is currently debating the proposed leg-
islation regarding plea bargaining.
He said the claim by some that passage
of legislation will increase significantly
the number of matters for plea bargain-
ing was "slightly misplaced."
Gaspard said what determines if the
system of plea bargaining will be used
will usually include "the strength of the
evidence and the type of evidence on
which the State relies.
Ramdeen challenges JLSC
Remove secrecy of
Opposition Senator Gerald
Ramdeen is calling upon Chief
Justice Ivor Archie and mem-
bers of the Judicial and Legal
Services Commission (JLSC)
to disclose the criteria used
for the appointment of High
Speaking at a press conference
at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in
Port-of-Spain yesterday, Ram-
deen, an Opposition senator, said
he decided to challenge the JLSC
as he was reliably informed that
it was about to announce the ap-
pointments of five new judges.
"As a member of the legal pro-
fession and a citizen of this coun-
try I will not stand and allow any
JLSC to appoint people who upon
an objective examination are not
deserving to be judges of the Su-
preme Court," Ramdeen said.
He claimed that of the five pro-
posed candidates, two are sitting
magistrates and another former
Supreme Court Registrar. While
Ramdeen raised individual issues
with the candidates, he declined
to name them.
"There is one civil practitioner
who has little or no experience
in civil law, who is a former Reg-
istrar of the Supreme Court. We
have a duty to ensure that when
these appointments are made
they are done in a transparent and
accountable manner," Ramdeen
He also questioned whether the
magistrates' previous work as ju-
dicial officers was properly scru-
tinised by the JLSC before they
decided on their appointments.
Ramdeen claimed that for the
first time in its history, the JLSC
required the 36 candidates who
applied to write a written exami-
nation and undergo psychometric
"Who sets the exam? Who
marks it? Where is it in the
Constitution that the JLSC has
the power to set an exam?" Ram-
He said the public should be
concerned over the selection pro-
cess because of the wide reaching
powers afforded to judges.
"A Supreme Court Judge has
the power to send you to be ex-
ecuted and to stop an execution.
They are the persons who are
vested with the power to decide
whether you can be incarcerated
or released. It is one of the most
powerful positions that one can
hold in a democracy," he said.
Ramdeen also took issue with
the process used for the selec-
tion of judges for promotion to
the Court of Appeal. He referred
specifically to the case of Justice
Andre Des Vignes, who was ele-
vated earlier this week.
"It can't be seniority because
Justice Des Vignes is junior to
almost six sitting judges," Ram-
deen claimed it had a demoralis-
ing effect on the judges that were
bypassed for promotion.
"There are many members of
the Judiciary that are extreme-
ly upset about what is going on.
Someone needs to speak on their
behalf because they can not do
so themselves. The persons de-
serving of judicial appointments
are being bypassed and we must
know why," he said.
Ramdeen said he would be
writing to Archie, who is current-
ly overseas, requesting disclosure
of the information and would
consider filing a lawsuit seeking
clarity on the JLSC's powers if the
request are not facilitated.
"The Judiciary is not a sacred
cow who is unanswerable. What
the JLSC does is subject to judicial
review and if we do not get the
answers we want it will be sub-
ject to judicial review," Ramdeen
said, as he noted that the Judici-
ary must be held accountable for
the almost $400 million in an-
nual funding from Government
Ramdeen also suggested the
implementation a new system
of selection of judges similar to
the United States where judges
are subjected to intense con-
gressional hearings before being
Rosary Boys RC pupils display their copy books and $20 vouchers during Two Cents Movement in
association with Republic Bank's Financial and Social Responsibility Caravan visited their school on Park
Street, Port- of-Spain, on Thursday. The vouchers will go towards opening their bank accounts.
PHOTO: EDISON BOODOOSINGH
DPP Roger Gaspard
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