Collateral Damage: Independent Judiciary Edition
Posted by clubsodaandsalt on July 16, 2006
It looks like PM Damage has decided that the latest bystander to be destroyed is the independent judiciary. I touched on this before, saying that I thought that the government’s case seemed quite weak, and I haven’t seen anything since then to change my mind. It appears that the Police disagree, however, as they attemped to arrest CJ Sharma on Friday night. This despite the fact that CJ Sharma had already gotten an injunction against being charged by the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions. Apparently, the Police Commissioner decided that he was free to build his own case against the Chief Justice, and today’s Express features him boasting about such decisive moves as “ignor[ing] the views expressed on the evidence by ACP Virgil as well as those of Deputy DPP Carla Antoine-Brown.” Right, because we all know that ignoring the prosecutor’s views on the evidence is the first step in any successful investigation. However, Commissioner Paul has “40 years” of experience, so I’m sure that that qualifies him to unilaterally make decisions on when to arrest people. But check this out:
“On arrival [of the police] at his residence (at Fairways, Maraval) the Chief Justice barricaded himself in a room. My officers did not break down the door as would normally occur. During that time Justice of Appeal (Stanley) John placed a call to a judge, who ordered the police officers not to proceed.
They didn’t break down the door?! How risky! What an abundance of caution! I mean, this was a wanted man — God knows he may have been on his Blackberry, brazenly influencing case after case from his toilet! The generousity didn’t stop there, though:
“Mr Russell Martineau SC also intervened to prevent the arrest of the Chief Justice. Police officers, not wishing to allow a spectacle, and in the face of what appeared to be yet another Court order, decided to leave the premises and to seek further advise (sic) and clarification,” Paul stated.
You mean the courts told them to back off, and they respected that ruling? How very “above and beyond”.
Really, this is a complete debacle. I hope that I soon hear of Trevor Paul’s resignation. I’m not holding my breath, though.
In all seriousness, this matter is being dealt with in a truly ridiculous and, frankly, very worrying manner. If the Prime Minister has reason to believe that the Chief Justice has broken the law, he should begin impeachment proceedings against him. Doing this via the court system is likely to be unbelievably chaotic, and it’s difficult to see how the CJ could even get a fair trial (especially if he remains in office during the trial — and remember, he’s not been impeached, so it’s not clear to me why he wouldn’t) — on the one hand, the judiciary may very well close ranks and generally thwart attempts to try Sharma, and on the other, who knows what judges out there might have rivalries with or vendettas against the man? Given that this isn’t a clear cut situation, I’m not seeing how this doesn’t end messily. On the other hand, impeachment proceedings would allow us all to see the “evidence” to which Commissioner Paul referred, and we can each judge for ourselves whether there’s a case to be made. Moreover, it means that the decision will be made in public, by the public’s representatives. If you’re going to remove a sitting Chief Justice, I don’t think anything less than that can suffice.
Again, though, I wouldn’t hold my breath. Besides the fact that Manning is incredibly stubborn and arrogant, it’s also clear that this case is probably based on hearsay. It’s not likely to stand the test of public scrutiny. I suspect that Manning’s thinking is that the very act of sending Sharma to trial will cause a resignation. Commencing impeachment proceedings would not have the same effect. Either way, a conviction is unlikely, but in the former situation, Manning gets what he wants. And ultimately, that’s all our Prime Minister cares about, no matter how many laws have to be ignored, no matter how many doors need destroying, and no matter how many dangerous precedents are set.