PM: Volney’s views reflect his personal opinion

PRESS RELEASE FROM THE OFFICE OF THE PRIME MINISTER

Herbert Volney“That several members of her People’s Partnership administration have had a past history in politics and social activism as defenders and upholders of the rule of law and the independence and separations of all the time honoured Estates of a Democratic State as Trinidad and Tobago.

In fact, as individual professionals in the legal and other spheres, publicly elected parliamentary representatives of the citizens over the past ten years and political and social activists, several members of the People’s Partnership Government and Cabinet, including the Honourable Prime Minister herself, often, through public statements and legal action, came to the staunch defence of the rule of law and were strong proponents of the independence of the judiciary, especially during the trying times of the historic, unfortunate and illegal move of the former Patrick Manning PNM regime to impeach the former chief justice Satnarine Sharma.

It is in this context that the Honourable Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar wishes to indicate that she considers the statements made by Minister of Justice Herbert Volney during his contribution to the budget debate on Thursday, September 16th, 2010, as unfortunate, and unnecessary but may have been made in the context of a first time budget debate for the Honourable Minister and therefore, may have been simply over-enthusiastic. The Honourable Prime Minister wishes to further reinforce the fact that the views expressed by Minister Volney reflect his personal opinion and in NO WAY is the official position of the Prime Minister or the People’s Partnership Government regarding its perception, attitude or policy concerning the judicial arm of the State and indeed, the Honorable Chief Justice himself.

The Honourable Prime Minister wishes to note that in Minister Volney’s contribution, he had in fact stated his ministry’s intent to consult with the Honourable Chief Justice on matters concerning the administration of justice, thereby recognising himself the independence of the judiciary and the necessity for his ministry to give this body its full cooperation and due respect. The Honourable Prime Minister further wishes to emphasis that her People’s Partnership Government understands the importance and value of a good working relationship with the judiciary to improve the administration of justice for the benefit and greater good of all our citizens and our society. To this end, the government is committed to fulfilling its obligations, including providing appropriate housing accommodation for the Honourable Chief Justice and members of the judiciary.

The Honourable Prime Minister is thus confident that members of the judiciary will recognise these realities in their infinite wisdom and maturity, and ensure a continued receptive, cordial and professional relationship between the Government and the judiciary.”

14 Responses to “PM: Volney’s views reflect his personal opinion”


  • Volney Targets CJExpress: By Ria Taitt – September 17, 2010
    Justice Minister questions ‘sweetheart’ house deal

    Don’t use Parliament to settle old grudges
    Guardian: By Michelle Loubon – September 18, 2010
    Diego Martin West MP Colm Imbert says Chief Justice Ivor Archie was appointed under former attorney general Bridgid Annisette-George’s watch and not the other former AG John Jeremie.

    Volney’s bad-mouthing of the Chief Justice
    Express Editorial – September 19, 2010
    Though eyebrows raised when Justice Herbert Volney descended overnight from the High Court into the campaign trail, and raised higher when he was later named Minister of Justice, nothing prepared Trinidad and Tobago for last Thursday when, in his first Parliamentary address, he made highly disparaging references to the Chief Justice. As head of the judiciary and chairman of the Judicial and Legal Service, Chief Justice Ivor Archie can be regarded as the former boss of the present Justice Minister.

    September 20, 2010

    Kamla: Volney’s remarks were his own
    PRIME Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar yesterday distanced herself and her Government from remarks by Minister of Justice, Herbert Volney, critical of Chief Justice Ivor Archie (and former Attorney-General John Jeremie), in the Lower House Budget debate last Thursday.

    …PM: Volney’s comments not the PP Govt position

    …Kamla: Comments ‘unfortunate’

    …Judiciary cries foul

    …Parliament not meant to settle scores
    CHIEF Justice Ivor Archie yesterday slammed Justice Minister Herbert Volney for his speech in the Budget debate last Thursday in the Lower House when he had made veiled attacks on him.

    …Volney’s statements slanderous
    CJ Archie hits back…

    …CJ vows to take action

    …St Joseph MP not backing down
    JUSTICE MINISTER Herbert Volney last night stood firm on his statements made in Parliament criticising Chief Justice Ivor Archie despite a wave of criticism, even from his new boss, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar.

    …Attorneys wade into former judge

  • Ivor must come clean on the charges against him. He has acted in a manner that cast aspersions on the justice system due to his close affiliation with the former AG. He was suppose to act independently but one wonders if he ever did acted independently in matters regarding the State. Minister of Justice Herbert Volney have a right to exercise authority in his capacity and ask these profound questions. The Prime Minister is right to stay out of it. Volney can handle himself in this matter.

    The Chief Justice must do us all a favour and clear the air on this matter immediately instead of attacking Volney.

    • Come on Khem, shame on you for saying theCJ should come clean, what does he have to explain, that he enjoys a house or housing supplied by the government? If so, then Kamla and all those who enjoy such comforts should do the same! The more supporters of the PP preach their gospel on the blogs, the more divided we become as a nation. The CJ does NOT have to say anything in response to a madman.

      • Come on Khem, shame on you for saying theCJ should come clean, what does he have to explain, that he enjoys a house or housing supplied by the government? Kian

        Kian I stayed in judges quaters in Tobago, I enjoyed the good mangoes they had there and the beautiful flowers. Judges deserve to be treated with respect and given a home, car and chauffeur, no one is desputing that.

        Volney as the Minister of Justice have the right to question some of those things, it may well be above board. The CJ have to clearly explain his dealing with former AG Jeremie and propose changes in the judicial system to deal with 90,000 backlog cases currently confronting the nation like a colossus. Or else he will always be under a cloud of suspicion.

        The challenge for Archie is great and all I hear at the beginning of the law term is the same ole, same ole speeches.

        It is time he use his influence to increase the judiciary, develop a new system of recording and computerizing the whole judicial system. Aim for efficiencies and cut wastage. In the US there is a judge, two lawyers and a guard, along with those immediately connected to the case. No one else, the entire case is recorded. No one typing away….That case can be reviewed very quickly by judges in cases of appeal. No transporting information all over the place.

        Archie’s best days or his worst days could be ahead. It is up to him to rise to the challenge of ensuring justice is swift… The law association, the victims of crime, the people of nation is watching him…..

        • Khem,
          I know by your writings and thoughts expressed that you are educated, well read and is not an idealog but ardently supports the PP. You are therefore sympathetic to whatever behavior this government exhibits. The conditions under which one negotiates for residential and personal comforts is very subjective and should never be hard policy to be discussed in a political forum. It should be private and remain so. Volney is OUT OF Place
          and downright peurile in making it an issue. The matters you are discussing is CJ policy and I was addressing Volney’s behaviour which shows a lack of maturity. His behaviour is no better than that of the Tea Party followers. He is like a spoilt child that is looking for attention and you should NOT condone that!

          • The larger issue that is a subtext to this situation, in addition to the obviously egregious actions of Minister of Justice Volney (Heaven help T&T), and the public questioning which further continues about his lack of good judgement, the growing perception–if not yet concern–is of the Prime Minister’s judgement itself.

            Whatever is said about Volney is an assessment, too, of her sense of judgement. She chose him to be her Minister, knowing his temperament and proclivities.

            The perception is that while she is a person well-intentioned and well-disposed to seeing what is best for the country, her capabilities do not appear to match these sentiments.

            Equally, too, is the response given in at least two recent instances in which an apology was in orrder because of action and statements of her representatives and the vast difference in her responses to both.

            During the retreat in Tobago, a reporter was denied entrance to a meeting. On her learning of this, she did not equivocate. She did what was right and apologised forthrightly to the reporter and made it clear of the government’s regard for the role of media in T&T.

            By comparison, her response to Volney’s outburst–and he is not the only person whose actions and statements in Parliament lacks decorum, but Jack Warner’s self-description of being “HNIC” was astonishing beyond belief, and Anil’s performance was one more apt in a calypso tent or rumshop–was equivocal.

            First, she as an experienced Parliamentarian must have immediately recognized, or should have recognized the grave error of Volney’s unwarranted attack on the CJ.

            Her allowing it to reach this stage is troubling. She had several opportunities to arrest this prudently and in ways which would redound to her credit. One way in which she showed lack is that she did not apologise nor call on Volney to until after every major print and electronic media, as well as large swaths of the country’s judiciary and people were up in arms against Volney.

            Why a quick response to a reporter, and a convoluted one to the CJ?

            I think that whatever one’s party support, ardent and enegertic, at some point partisanship must yield to patriotism; support for PP, or PNM, or COP or who else must be subsumed to the larger interests of T&T. Given the growing racial antagonisms, in addition to the vast disparities in communal wealth, social and financial, T&T is in worse shape than too many believe or choose to recognize.

            Rwanda, Bosnia, Sri Lanka did not arise in self-destruction overnight. The signs were there all along, signs of high-decibel tribalisms in which what was factual of the other was sidetracked in beliving the worst. Leadership in every situation was the spark that set the tinderbox aflame.

            The Prime Minister, as should have those before her, should be a PM for the whole country and the country’s institutions. She as Prime Minister is expected above all must keep faith with the constitution in its text and spirit. That others failed in this regard must be used as an excuse by her and others to continue this dangerous practice of Russian political roulette.

          • “It should be private and remain so. Volney is OUT OF Place”

            Kian in a democracy people are allowed to use the people’s platform to express discontent. Volney has raised some concern about the CJ a young man who I personally like because I did put forward suggestions for him to move forward. Having said that I think the whole PNM world view of tribalism permeated the entire governmental system.

            The CJ was silent when Mr. Manning fell sick and paranoia took him over after he swollowed the pills given to him by Cuban doctors in Havana.

            Someone should have noted Mr. Mannings behaviour and sought help for him. Prior to the CJ, another CJ Sharma came under Manning wrath with the aid of his loyal lacky Jeremie. As if not satisfied surgeon Narayansingh and Panday also felt the whip of Manning’s paranoia. It was open season for any man dog who dared to bark..

            But Kian all that is past history. Today the judiciary needs to be purge, redirected, and given the proper wheels to end the suffering of victims. Archie can do it, if he acts swiftly by explaining the $60,000 rental amongst other things his relationship with Jeremie. As we all know politicians don’t do nothin for nothin. hmmm Was he on the PNM payroll aka slush fund. When you see bees there must be honey nearby.

  • Volney will respond
    PRIME MINISTER Kamla Persad-Bissessar yesterday said Justice Minister Herbert Volney has been ordered to respond to Chief Justice Ivor Archie’s statement in which Archie slammed Volney for making veiled attacks against him during the Budget debate in the House of Representatives last Friday.

    Widespread criticism of Volney’s remarks

    Apologise or Resign
    Justice Minister Herbert Volney says he is ready to apologise to Chief Justice Ivor Archie if called upon to do so by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, or resign if he refuses. In a telephone interview yesterday, Volney said he trusted the Prime Minister’s judgment.

    Say sorry, or else
    OPPOSITION LEADER Dr Keith Rowley yesterday insisted that Minister of Justice Herbert Volney must apologise…

    …’Volney must apologise’
    More blows for Minister over attack on CJ

    …Mr Volney must apologise to CJ

    …Criminal bar silent on ‘war of words’

  • Volney’s way with words

    Newsday Editorial
    September 21 2010 – newsday.co.tt

    As a recently retired High Court judge and a Cave Hill graduate, Mr Herbert Volney can be expected to have a rudimentary grasp of the concept of parliamentary privilege, taught in the first year of law school in constitutional law courses. Privilege, as the word suggests, means that MPs are afforded a special right of protection from prosecution in either civil or criminal courts for words uttered during the course of a debate in the legislature.

    The intent of privilege is to allow representatives to air public matters without fear, without prejudice. However, as any other advantage, parliamentary privilege begets responsibility: it must never be used irresponsibly to make damning allegations without foundation nor should it be used to threaten, cajole, or to settle scores. Mr Volney in his maiden contribution in the Parliament raised the issue of the Chief Justice occupying a $51,000 a month Goodwood Park mansion at a time of thrift for the nation. What’s wrong with having public knowledge of this? Is not taxpayers’ money involved? He may have thought it right that the public should know this particularly as he revealed that the house became the “quiet subject of discontent” when one compared the “mere pittance” given to other judges for housing. Volney may have an old score to settle. When he resigned from the bench and overnight became a candidate for the UNC in May, the Chief Justice correctly issued a statement distancing the judiciary from active politics. The separation of powers — another constitutional concept — demands as much space be placed between the judiciary and the political directorate. Otherwise, there is room for abuse of office and the potential for justice to be derailed. Certainly, for citizens to truly believe in justice for all, there must be no apparent link between judges and the executive, no question marks hanging over the active associations and associates of any member of the bench.

    As Minister of Justice, Volney, however, is expected to give the judiciary his fullest support. As Minister of Justice, he should not use the cover of the congress to make allegations against any officer of the court, and we think he went too far when he suggested a link between the Chief Justice and former attorney-general John Jeremie, and he was indeed incorrect to say that preceding Chief Justices had lived in their own residences thereby saving taxpayers the cost of supporting opulence at a time of thrift. The first former Chief Justice who lived in his own house by choice was Mr Michael de la Bastide. During this time the official Chief Justice’s residence was sold by the State and Mr Sat Sharma was forced to live in his own house when he succeeded to the post. The Prime Minister has quickly dissociated her Government from Volney’s statement and gave a rap on the knuckles. Mr Volney is given to using opprobrious language such as the “exalted one” the “lofted one” and he certainly has to be more careful with his words.

    On the other hand, however, times are changing and it is time we realise that no one in this country is above criticism or can avoid attention being drawn to their lifestyle, moreso when they hold high office. It was this practice of treating certain people as above and beyond criticism that led this country into its present chaotic state, where secrecy conquered all.

    But there is a silver lining in all this: we know now for certain that a mix of political and judicial matters is as perilous as a Molotov cocktail. It is welcome news thus that the “Guidelines for Judicial Conduct,” informal voluntary rules for judges and masters of the court, call for these to refrain from membership of and involvement in political parties upon appointment. The code was unveiled by the Chief Justice at the opening of the Law Term. Perhaps Mr Volney might have felt the rules pointed directly at him and at the less than decent haste with which he abandoned the bench for a political platform. Perhaps Mr Volney, speaking almost simultaneously with the Chief Justice last week, was not only settling old scores but tackling new ones.

    http://www.newsday.co.tt/editorial/0,127891.html

  • “Times are changing” should always be relevant. But we should not use that adage to lower our standard. There are many ills in society and we elect people to represent us in the hope that they will use their good offices to work for the betterment of society not to glorify their new found positions of power as articulated by the likes of Volney, Anand, Roberts and others who want to remind people that they enjoy the seat of power and we have to contend with that. That is so immature! Tell us how they are going to deal with Crime, the state of the economy, housing, floods, race-relaions, use and abuse of power, poverty, homelessness, food, improving our cities and improving the quality of life in general. I,ve heard more than enough of what the PNM did now I want to know what the PP intends to do. I expect the PM, CJ, CoP, AG, Judges, Magistrates, policemen and top public servants to be well paid and treated because if they dont they will be easy targets for corruption. It is therefore unimportant to hear about the nice house or quarters that they enjoy. I want to know that they are comfortable.

  • Volney’s way with words – you talk but you leave no name – you are nothing but a coward.

    The CJ fails to perform and who is better that Mr. Volney to reveal this to John Public. You are like the rest of your fraternity, a bunch of know it alls who exploit the poor and feel nothing must change with the present legal system. This system has purposely been kept so by the CJ and his PNM Judge cronies who live like the Lords of Lords (yes meh lard). You are nothing but a bunch of yes men and women. Well the only judge i respect is God as He reigns in me all the time despite the pains I suffer from people like you. But your time will come to humble before Him. The CJ and his red book and the system stinks while the lawless to say the least drives the retires from their homes; if not kill them in the most inhumane way. And you talk protection for your system. It seems that you never step out of your box to look down the road where you are heading.

  • No Jerry , let me warn you , my brother , that both you , your Justice Minister , and other well known closet , self hating enemies, are barking up the wrong three with this one.
    It is an undisputed fact , that some semblance of respectability was brought into the Judiciary upon the elevation of CJ Archie. That man for the record perhaps have more moral integrity in his big toe , than many of the numerous legal bandits all put together,that are throwing sling shots at him today.
    It is perhaps a credit to him , that our courts might have finally regain some of it’s lost luster ,in the eye,s of a growing skeptical wider ,global community , after the disgusting state that his predecessor left same.
    You , in addition to all of the piranhas ,that comprise the legal fraternity ,should kiss the butt of Chief Magistrate Nicholls, for biting the bullet , due to the fact that he refused to testify against the then CJ, thus giving our conniving , British ,Law Lord blokes, an excuse to give their twisted ruling in his favor.
    Encourage folks like a certain immoral ,unmentionable, former Chief whip, and one time Human Rights head guru, to quit treating the Judicial system like a footstool.
    Tell Ramy ,the COP pit-bull ,to clean up his legal department, by weeding out the unscrupulous characters , and bad eggs within, as that is the steps that are needed, for the people to finally regain some confidence in the system.
    Attacking selective members of the Security service , as you seek scapegoats for failure to have a coherent crime plan , is not an option, agreed?
    Now strike your bow Mr CJ, and in the process ,show dem who is boss, of a truly independent judiciary. Most importantly , we are firmly in agreement with you that we remain a nation of ‘booboolees,’ if we still choose to consider ourselves independent , while old , senile , deceptive , Europeans ,are needed to still interpret our national laws.

  • The CJ is your tribal leader not mine – no thanks. I do not want to be in no tribe.

    God gave me a brain and I intend to use it and not be brainwashed like you.

    If the CJ is so good why does everything in the legal system remain as is, status quo. And crime continues to bring T&T down.
    You people do not change do you….. you are like a half cent eh.

  • Wat is wrong with some of these commenters? is this wat Trinidad has become!!!!!! Minister Herbert Volney was out of place to make such a remark especially since it it something affecting the Judiciary and not the executive. this is not the 1st time. He needs to resign and the PM should apologise for her statement in backing away. That Minister is a member of the Gov’t. He is representing not only her but the citizens of T&T especially St. Joseph. this is not the 1st time he has made such statements and had such outbursts. In Trinidad we do not understand how much power we hav as citizens. we like to be treated as door mats and have people walk over us. For him to say he is not apologising just goes to show the type of character we have as MINISTER OF JUSTICE! I could only imagine what he did for the cases he presided over (Brad Boyce Case). Resign and apologise!!

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