Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 10th 2017 Contents Signed
e Honourable the Chief Justice Ivor Archie (Chair)
Mr. Justice Roger Hamel-Smith (Ret.)
Mr. Justice Humphrey Stollmeyer (Ret.)
Ms. Maureen Manchouck
He enquired whether she had any outstanding part-heard matters and she assured the Chief Justice that, apart from 3 short trial
matters which for reasons beyond her control could not be completed within a reasonably short time, all she had outstanding
were a few 'paper committals' which could be restarted by another magistrate without incurring undue delay (this refers
speci cally to preliminary inquiries in which only statements had been led and tendered into evidence before Her Worship
and there had been no cross examination of any witnesses). In such a scenario the inquiry could be restarted before another
magistrate by having the statements produced by the custodian of such Court documents and therea er having witnesses
cross examined on request by Defense Counsel if necessary. is is not uncommon to the Magistracy, when magistrates, for
various reasons, demit o ce without being able to complete all of their outstanding matters.
e Chief Justice took the precaution of asking her to provide a written list with short explanations which she did on the
evening of April 10th 2017. Before leaving o ce for the day, the Chief Justice had sight of the document and followed up with
a further telephone conversation during which she reiterated that she had no other outstanding matters in St. George West and
that there were no matters in Couva or any of the other magisterial districts.
e list, which was printed under the letterhead of the Chief Magistrate, omitted any information about of the nature and
seriousness of the o ences. Mrs Ayers-Caesar gave no indication that, apart from the very short trial matters discussed, viva
voce evidence had already been given in any of the matters. Having regard to the document presented and the conversations
held, His Lordship remained satis ed with Mrs Ayers-Caesar explanations.
Almost immediately a er the swearing in of Mrs Ayers-Caesar on April 12th 2017 a sustained chorus of protest arose from
prisoners and Attorneys-at- law about the hardship and dislocation occasioned by Mrs Ayers-Caesar's 'sudden' elevation; and
in response to questions raised by stakeholders, and the news media, Mrs Ayers Caesar was asked to provide an explanation, vet
and approve a press release intended to address those concerns. However, it subsequently became apparent that the concerns
were also being raised about matters not previously brought to the attention of the Chief Justice and the JLSC.
In light of the foregoing the Chief Justice requested the Acting Chief Magistrate to conduct an audit to ascertain the true state
of a airs. e Acting Chief Magistrate, in reporting to the Chief Justice, provided evidence
that the list of outstanding matters was much larger than he had been led to believe and that many of them were quite
substantial matters in which several witnesses had already been cross examined. e list number of trials had risen from 3 to
10 and the total number of matters was now in excess of y (50). Had the JLSC been aware of this state of a airs before April
12th, the O ce of the President would have been requested to postpone the appointment of Mrs Ayers-Caesar.
A er raising the matter of the new list with Mrs Ayers-Caesar, His Lordship brought the new information to the attention
of the other members of the JLSC and caused an emergency meeting to be convened on April 27th. 2017. e JLSC was
unanimously of the view that the discrepancy between the two lists was large enough to call into question one of the bases
upon which Mrs. Ayers-Caesar had been selected - her case management ability - and, the JLSC recognized that, if the second
list represented the true state of a airs, it could seriously erode public con dence in the administration of justice and, by
extension, the whole selection process as it was apparent from comments in the public domain that no distinction was being
drawn in the minds of many observers between the selection process and Mrs. Ayers-Caesar's management of her transition
to the High Court Bench.
e JLSC was of the view that the situation was su ciently grave to trigger a disciplinary enquiry but a er some further
discussion it was agreed that Justice Ayers-Caesar should be given an opportunity to return to the Magistracy to complete the
matters that she had le un nished. e JLSC was of the view that it was a viable course of action as a means relieving possible
hardship to defendants, victims and other interested parties.
Accordingly the Chief Justice summoned Mrs Ayers-Caesar to a meeting on 28th April 2017 in the presence of his Administrative
Secretary where he reminded her of the importance of her accepting personal responsibility for the manner in which events
had unfolded and invited her to consider her options. Mrs Ayers-Caesar decided to resign from the High Court Bench as a
means of acknowledging her default. No promises were made to Mrs Ayers-Caesar that if she nished her part heard matters,
she would be returned to the High Court Bench.
It should be reiterated that Mrs Ayers-Caesar had a professional duty to conclude matters as far as reasonably possible before
taking up o ce.
She was o ered the opportunity of explaining to the public why she was taking such action before the Chief Justice issued any
public statement on behalf of the JLSC. e wording of the press release which was issued by Mrs. Ayers-Caesar was approved
by her before she signed it.
Subsequent to the 28th of April 2017, it has come to the attention of the Chief Justice and the JLSC that Mrs Ayers-Caesar on
March 22nd 2017 went to the Couva Magistrates' Court and dismissed sixteen (16) outstanding cases arising out of at least 7
unconnected incidents. Without knowing all the details of the matters the JLSC notes the unusual nature of this action.
e JLSC wishes to underscore its commitment to the review and improvement of the process for selection and appointment
of candidates to judicial o ce and welcomes constructive suggestions from interested parties for the e cient disposition of
the part-heard matters that remain outstanding. In the meantime Mrs. Ayers-Caesar will not be presiding on the magisterial
bench while the JLSC gives further consideration to the several issues raised
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