President Re-affirms Leave for Embattled Chief Justice

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Chief Justice Ivor Archie

Archie Defers Departure From the Country

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad – Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley says he is studying a
response by President Anthony Carmona “reaffirming his decision” to grant
sabbatical leave to the embattled Chief Justice Ivor Archie.

Archie was due to leave for the United States last weekend, but deferred his
departure after then acting head of state, Christine Kangaloo, last Friday said she
had been able to convince him not to leave the island after the government raised
questions about the matter.

In a brief statement, Kangaloo said that she had been “in communication with the
Honourable Chief Justice and invited the Honourable Chief Justice to consider
deferring a departure from the jurisdiction prior to the return of His Excellency
Anthony Carmona to the country on Sunday. The Honourable Chief Justice has
agreed to defer such departure.”

But in a brief statement Tuesday, the Office of the Prime Minister said that in
response to the March 7th letter requesting “an explanation of the authority by
which the President has purportedly granted sabbatical leave to the Chief
Justice…the President has responded reaffirming his decision.”

The statement said that Rowley will be “examining the situation and will report to
the country in short order”.

Last week, the Minister in the Ministry of the Prime Minister, Stuart Young, told
reporters that Prime Minister Dr. Rowley had written to the Office of the President
seeking clarification on the matter “since that (sabbatical) term doesn’t exist for
judicial officers in the Salaries Review Commission’s 98th report.”

Young said that the matter had been raised during the Cabinet meeting last
Thursday but noted that Prime Minister Rowley had only become involved in the
issue when he received communication from President Carmona, dated March 2,
which sought – under the consultative process – appointment of an acting Chief
Justice.

The letter, which he said was received on March 6, asked whether the prime
minister had any objection to appointing Justice of Appeal Allan Mendonca to act
as Chief Justice while Archie went on sabbatical.

Young said Rowley subsequently wrote the President on Wednesday querying the
basis for Archie’s sabbatical. He said Carmona’s letter suggested the SRC’s 98th
report had a term for judicial officers to go on sabbatical leave. But he said the
SRC makes recommendations which are laid in Parliament and can be rejected,
modified or amended by Cabinet.

He said Rowley had immediately consulted the SRC’s 98th report, “but the report
didn’t have it (sabbatical) as a recommendation for judicial officers” even as he
acknowledged that the SRC had “something to the effect” and had been
suggested to the commission, which thought it was a good idea in principle that
sabbatical be added to judicial officers’ terms.

“It wasn’t put forward by the SRC as a recommendation to be laid in Parliament
and Cabinet deliberation,” Young said.

“So the prime minister asked President Carmona where did the issue of sabbatical
arise and why was he being called about the consultative process to appoint an
acting CJ, as there’s no basis upon which to have the sabbatical leave. There’s no
such term.” – CMC

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