Response to Raffique’s “Election Errors”

Herbert VolneyEDITOR: I am not affiliated to any political party in Trinidad and Tobago. However, after reading some of the blogs I felt compelled to respond to one in particular. Since space is at a minimum, I am forced to discuss parts, not all, of the article entitled “Tragedy of election errors.

Raffique Shah, in his article, quoted the Law Association president, Martin Daly, who stated that “the swift descent of a sitting judge into the arena of competitive politics inevitably raises a concern in people’s minds about the judiciary harbouring persons with political ambition.”

Let us look at the two words swift descent. Swift according to Funk and Wagnall’s’ dictionary means “quick,” while descent means “a decline or deterioration.” Is Martin Daly suggesting that former Judge Volney’s decision to enter politics is a quick descent into an arena which is of lower status? One would assume that Daly is aware that it is politicians, with the aid of members of the legal profession, who draft laws, debate them, and then vote on them before they become laws of the country. The judiciary is then assigned the tasks of implementing these said laws. Martin, what do you mean by swift descent?

Secondly, I question part of the statement “inevitably raises a concern in people’s minds …” For example: Is it some persons? Is it the majority? What exactly do you mean? Are you insinuating that all “Tringonians” would stereotype the entire judiciary -all judges would aspire to become politicians – because of the actions of one judge? Hello! Give us some credit, we are lot smarter than that.

Judge Volney is the first to resign from the bench in Trinidad and Tobago to run for a political post, but this is not unique in the western hemisphere. For example, in the US, Judge Brian Sandoval resigned from the Bench in 2009 to run for governor of Nevada (2010 election). Shah claimed that if Judge Volney had “allowed six months between leaving the Bench and running for election, no one would have questioned his independence.” Raffique, do you have any information/data that would lead you to conclude that “no one would have questioned his independence?” That is a very, very bold statement. Are you clairvoyant?

Some issues may still arise after one has declared his/her intention to resign. Judge Brian Sandoval, for example, announced his resignation on August15, 2009 and stepped down on September 16, 2009 (Judge Brian Sandoval … Citizen for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington). “Canon 5 of the Judicial Code of Conduct requires judges to refrain from political activity.” It was asserted that “before the judge left the bench, however, it appears [he] may have engaged in the kind of political activity he was warned to avoid.” It begs the question, “What can be done to prevent a judge from campaigning for political office once he/she has tendered his/her resignation which becomes effective at a later date?”

Manning called a snap election. Volney did not have much time to ponder whether he should run or not, when election is about one month away. Taking a day to make such a decision may be deemed too short a time for some, but who knows what Volney had to go through that day. Was it a “long day” for him? According to Ramesh Deosaran, May 2, 2010, “Volney himself, more than any other judge in [the] history [of Trinidad and Tobago], has made one complaint after another, one criticism after another about how the ‘criminal justice system has collapsed,’ [and] about how the jury system has ‘grown perverse.'” I concur with Deosaran when he suggested that “Volney no doubt feel, given [his] expressed frustration with the judiciary, that [he] can put things right as [an] elected politician.” Was Volney’s decision to run for political office akin to crossing the Rubicon?

Raffique Shah stated that “today a judge [in Trinidad and Tobago has resigned], tomorrow a police chief … where do we draw the line?” Again, in Trinidad and Tobago people who are members of various professions who resign their job to run for a political post may be viewed as weird by some, but the internet has informed me that such action by professionals is not that rare in some western societies. Here is an example: Fire Chief, Danny Leeper, had to resign from an $81,625.00 per year salary and a 26-year career with the Fernandina Beach Fire Department, Florida, to run for District 1 seat of the Nassau County Commission (searchamelia.com2008/07/23). Do we need to ask the question regarding drawing the line, as Shah suggested, or do we need to search the “net” and professional journals for information on political issues, for example, and then make informed statements? Volney’s move did not make me queasy, instead, and please excuse me for being redundant, it encouraged me to research this political issues.


Edmonton, Alberta


4 thoughts on “Response to Raffique’s “Election Errors””

  1. Mr Phd PETE HALL, of Edmonton, Alberta Canada , you can afford to slice and dice this desperate ,imbecilic, Kamla political Volney maneuver as best as you can, but it just won’t stand up to public scrutiny.
    Even the good lady , at least had the decency to reluctantly admit that -even if legal -it was an ill-conceived move, that opened the Judiciary to question as to bias and independence.
    What I however find most reprehensible ,is that characters like yourself would proudly tout the merits, politically maturity , and sophistication of your new great Northern homelands such as Canada. Be it known ,that never would this despicable type of behavior be tolerated in any of these modern democratic countries.
    Yet , you feel compel to defend same , in a country like ours, and why? Some -not me- would suspect that you are lobbying for a job , with this subtle , though indirect fronting of your credentials.
    Phd indeed , how vain! A two bit second rate , incompetent , disgruntled judge resigned his office on Monday , and is ready to run for political office by Tuesday and Dr. Pete Hall , sees no impropriety in that.
    Lord please save us from dishonest , and morally unsound folks like these that profess to be loving patriots.
    Love country over self, my frien

  2. Neal, Neal, Neal. Climb out of your cave and abandon your partisan politics.Your ramblings are so skewed that I am wondering if you are cokey-eyed.
    Not only is volney’s candidacy going to ” stand up to public scrutiny”, but he is going to win the election in St.Joseph.
    Keep thinking, comrade.

  3. @ Neil….Mr. Volney’s choice to move into the political arena should be commended for having the balls to walk the talk…unlike alot of brilliant minds back home who seem to have forgotten the findings in the Mustill Report….this has turn out to be a political move that has frozen the PM/AG in their track….So Neil when the PM/AG tried to lockup the CJ on a Friday night, what were your responce?

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