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Trinidad CJ transfers critic to Tobago


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Carol Gobin

(TRINIDAD GUARDIAN) — A high court judge who has been a fierce crit­ic of Chief Jus­tice Ivor Archie is chal­leng­ing his de­ci­sion to trans­fer her to head the Ju­di­cia­ry’s new Fam­i­ly Court in To­ba­go.

In a five-page let­ter sent to Archie on Fri­day, which was ob­tained by Guardian Me­dia, Jus­tice Car­ol Gob­in ques­tioned the de­ci­sion, which was on­ly sent to her on Mon­day.

Gob­in, who has been open­ly crit­i­cal of Archie since mis­con­duct al­le­ga­tions arose two years ago, raised sev­er­al is­sues with the de­ci­sion in­clud­ing the per­cep­tion that it was based on their tem­pes­tu­ous re­la­tion­ship.

Archie’s de­ci­sion to trans­fer Gob­in came days af­ter Prime Min­is­ter Dr Kei­th Row­ley an­nounced that he would not fol­low the Law As­so­ci­a­tion’s ad­vice to in­sti­tute im­peach­ment pro­ceed­ings to in­ves­ti­gate the claims against Archie.

Row­ley ob­tained a le­gal opin­ion on the as­so­ci­a­tion’s re­port and cor­re­spond­ing le­gal ad­vice on the is­sue which stat­ed that there was in­suf­fi­cient ev­i­dence to war­rant a con­sti­tu­tion­al probe as sug­gest­ed.

The as­so­ci­a­tion has sug­gest­ed that the opin­ion, pre­pared by British Queen’s Coun­sel Howard Stevens, was flawed and is cur­rent­ly seek­ing ad­di­tion­al le­gal ad­vice on whether to bring a ju­di­cial re­view law­suit to chal­lenge Row­ley’s de­ci­sion.

“I must specif­i­cal­ly note as well that this uni­lat­er­al and ar­bi­trary as­sign­ment, tak­ing place in the con­text of our well doc­u­ment­ed past dif­fer­ences must ap­pear, to any dis­pas­sion­ate and rea­son­ably in­formed by­stander, to be tan­ta­mount to the im­po­si­tion of a sanc­tion,” Gob­in said, as she called on Archie to re­con­sid­er his de­ci­sion and hold con­sul­ta­tions with oth­er ju­di­cial of­fi­cers on the “far-reach­ing changes” be­ing con­tem­plat­ed.

In her strong­ly-word­ed let­ter, Gob­in chal­lenged Archie’s claims that the de­ci­sion was based on her ex­per­tise in Fam­i­ly Law.

She claimed that since join­ing the Ju­di­cia­ry in 2004, her on­ly in­volve­ment in the Fam­i­ly Court was when she vol­un­teered to as­sist a col­league for a week, dur­ing the Ju­di­cia­ry’s an­nu­al va­ca­tion in 2005.

Gob­in al­so sug­gest­ed that a judge who has served in the Fam­i­ly Court in Port-of-Spain should have re­ceived the as­sign­ment based on their ex­pe­ri­ence and ex­per­tise.

Gob­in al­so sought to lay out her le­gal un­der­stand­ing of the need to con­sult with staff be­fore re­lo­ca­tion.

She said the re­lo­ca­tion would af­fect her abil­i­ty to sup­port her hus­band, who re­quires med­ical treat­ment and af­ter-care at their home.

“This would be im­pos­si­ble if I was re­lo­cat­ed and my fam­i­ly phys­i­cal­ly sep­a­rat­ed,” she said.

While she not­ed that judges serve in To­ba­go from time to time, there is a his­tor­i­cal prac­tice un­der which they are not as­signed there for a pro­tract­ed pe­ri­od so they can man­age their case-load at the Ju­di­cia­ry’s op­er­a­tions in Port-of-Spain and San Fer­nan­do.

In her let­ter, Gob­in in­formed Archie that she would be for­ward­ing the as­sign­ment let­ter and her re­sponse to her col­leagues so that the is­sue could be dis­cussed at a staff meet­ing card­ed for Mon­day.

Since the mis­con­duct al­le­ga­tions were lev­elled against Archie in Oc­to­ber 2017, Gob­in has re­peat­ed­ly ad­vo­cat­ed for Archie to meet with her and her col­leagues to clear the air on the is­sues. How­ev­er, he has re­peat­ed­ly de­clined the re­quests which are usu­al­ly made in email threads sent to all judges.

This article was posted in its entirety as received by This media house does not correct any spelling or grammatical error within press releases and commentaries. The views expressed therein are not necessarily those of, its sponsors or advertisers.

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