Chief Justice Ivor Archie

By Dr. Selwyn R. Cudjoe
January 24, 2008

Trinidad and Tobago News Blog
www.trinidadandtobagonews.com/blog

C J Ivor ArchieAs the fellars on the block would say, “Panday is real head!” Commenting on Ivor Archie’s elevation to that of Chief Justice, Panday proclaimed that he had “advised the President that he should have advertised the post in the Caribbean and the Commonwealth so he could have had a wide pool from which he could have selected the best person.” Strange as it may seem, that thought never occurred to Panday when President A. N. R. Robinson announced the appointment of Satnarine Sharma as the seventh Chief Justice of the republic.

In fact, he was so enamored with Chief Justice Sharma that his actions almost led to the undoing of Sharma’s career. It left Sharma with a bloodied eye and a reprimand that stated he did not display “the balanced sensitivity and distance which should be the hallmarks of a senior judge.” Lord Michael Mustill ruled negatively. He did not find sufficient evidence against Sharma to recommend that President Maxwell Richards refer the question of his removal from office to the Privy Council for a final decision.

It is sufficient to say that Chief Justice Sharma left office under a dark, demeaning, dismal cloud.

Enter Ivor Archie.

Evidence suggests that Chief Justice Ivor is a brilliant jurist and scholar. His beginnings are humble; his achievements laudable; his credentials impeccable. Born in Scarborough, Tobago to William and Moulda Beache, Ivor was schooled in the tenets of Anglicanism, Methodism and a dogged optimism. He was also nurtured by Bishop’s High School that produced a disproportionate amount of outstanding scholars.

He learned much from his mother. She was a recipient of a scholarship provided by Dr. Sylvan Bowles, a Tobagonian dentist who did well in New York and someone who provided scholarships for outstanding Tobagonians including former President A. N. R. Robinson and Dr. Keith Rowley.

Ivor’s mother’s interest in history and his father’s determination served as a fertile grounding for Archie’s development. His aptitude for science and mathematics was such that he was awarded a Tesoro scholarship that allowed him to pursue mechanical engineering at the University of the West Indies.

However, law was his calling. After studying law at the University of Southampton he returned to the Caribbean where he distinguished himself in the Turks and Caicos Islands before moving to Cayman Islands. Thereafter he moved to Trinidad though an invitation of Chief Justice Michael de la Bastide to become a High Court Judge. After six years in the High Court, Ivor was elevated to serve as a judge in the Appellate Court. Yesterday, he received the highest honor of his career when he became the Chief Justice of the Republic.

With great honor come grave responsibilities. Chief Justice Sharma was also a brilliant jurist but he left his position under a cloud. So that brilliance is not all that is asked of a Chief Justice. He must also be of impeccable moral and ethical character and must do nothing to disgrace the office that has been entrusted to him. The Chief Justice is the third highest officer in the land. Moral rectitude is an important virtue for someone in this position.

This brings me to an interesting phenomenon. In his wisdom, the President decided that Ivor is of such mettle that he elevated him over four other High Court judges. I am not a stickler for seniority but when a President elevates a junior over his seniors he has an obligation to inform the public why he felt that his choice was superior to those he has passed over. The President is responsible to the public for his actions.

Justice Roger Hamel Smith served with distinction when he acted as Chief Justice. He is fifteen years Archie’s senior, his rulings were respected by the Privy Council, and he displayed the necessary leadership and brought integrity to the office. By all accounts, he acquitted himself with dignity, acuity and probity.

The selection of the Chief Justice is the President’s call. Yet, one wonders if it was not judicious to hear the views of the thirty judges in the High Court (including the acting judges). Section 102 of the Constitution states: “The Chief Justice shall be appointed by the President after consultation with the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition.” It does not prevent him from consulting others persons and bodies who may assist in identifying the most suitable candidate. Even the Law Association ought to be consulted on such an important decision that affects the proper functioning of the Judiciary.

Although the United States must not always be held up as the model, the President’s choice of Chief Justice is subjected always to the scrutiny of the Senate Judiciary Committee and the confirmation of the US Senate. It might be an example to follow.

While I congratulate Chief Justice Ivor, one is entitled to ask if we ought not to make our selection process more transparent. A society that trumpets the virtues of justice and meritocracy must face up to this question squarely. A sense of fairness should pervade everything that we do.

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15 Responses to “Chief Justice Ivor Archie”


  • Very well said! It really would be interesting to hear Mr. Panday’s response to that well begged question. Not no ole talk, innuendoes, glibness or half-truths. Just the plain and simple truth…for once(?).

    Maybe Harry Williams could comment..

  • While I congratulate Chief Justice Ivor, one is entitled to ask if we ought not to make our selection process more transparent. A society that trumpets the virtues of justice and meritocracy must face up to this question squarely. A sense of fairness should pervade everything that we do.

    I absolutely concur with these sentiments. Of all of the powers that a society vests in Individuals, none can do more harm in a vacuum of fairness and balance than that having to do with the enforcement of the law. And becaus of that, the selectoral process that catapults individuals to the highest point of authority must not only be fair and unimpeachable, it must manifestly present the appearance of being thus.

    This is not a challenge to the suitability of the learned jurist to the position with which he has been entrusted. It is craving for a process that defies challenges to its fairness.

  • The constitution is quite clear, the President has the exclusive duty to select the CJ with consultation from the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition. That said, he doesn’t have to explain why he made his selection, the Constititution doesn’t call for him to do so and he shouldn’t do it no matter who ask for it. President Bush didn’t gave an explanation as to why he selected Judge Roberts, nor did he explain when he went ahead and nominated Robert to for the CJ postion (the sitting CJ died before Judge Roberts was approve) and in that case there were eight judges that were senior to him. The great think is no one complained, not a soul, including those naturalized Trinidadians who would want to weigh in on this situation. Thank God the President paid attention to the bacannal that was taking place and the people that were caugh up in it. I am absolutely delighted he didn’t elevate that joker stanley John to the position

  • How transparent is transparent? Do I need to know how much money he has in his bank account? No, but it should be noted somewhere. Do I want to know what his last frivolous purchase was? No, it cannot posibly be my business. Do I want to know what his sexual orientation is? Only as it might affect his decisions on the bench. If he was going in some other direction than the standard one for a male, we would have heard by now.
    Has he ammassed a fortune by exploiting the poor? We would have heard.
    We can look at a judge’s decisions, the body of cases he adjucated, and get a measure of the man. Now why not Mr. Justice Hamel-Smith and others with seniority? Hamel-Smith is a long and distinguished Trinidadian name. He has acted as CJ before, and because of that, and his advice to Mr. J. Henderson, he may be tainted because of his impeccable character. It could have been seen by others that he was angling for the position all along, and so, advised the DPP and The Attorney General under Sharma., to go to the Prime Minister with their information.

    Mr. Justice Archer is a new broom, sweeping away the clouds and taints under which the judiciary struggled under the LAST TWO chief Justices. There was wrangling about housing, about transfer of someone, a woman, to san Fernando, while she was too ill to work, and all kinds of sordidness unbecoming the judiciary.

    Mr Justice Archer gives us a chance to turn the bend, and enter a fresh new way, filled with promise for young people. I salute the President’s choice.

  • Indeed, the appointment of Justice Ivor Archie has caused quite an uproar in various quarters. The Bar Association was up in arms, insisting they should have had an input in the selection process while others argue the stipulations of the Constitution should be ignored and the process opened up to include non-resident Justices who may have distinguished themselves.

    I share the sentiments of Gillian Lucky that “change and the freshness of a new approach is usually guaranteed with the appointment of those who are relatively young”. (Guardian January 25, 2008). In fact, Justice Archie’s youth and proven competence in my humble opinion does more to restore confidence in the delivery of justice in T&T than objectors to his appointment realize or care to admit.

    Perhaps, the Bar Association needs to be reminded of the recommendations put forward in the Wooding Report regarding fundamental rights and freedoms.

    The Report of the Constitution Commission 1974, commonly referred to as the Wooding Report is very interesting reading, the views of the Bar Association on fundamental rights and freedoms Section III is a must read. Extracts have been provided.

    Objection was taken to the original draft of the present Constitution which set them out in much the same way as in the European Convention on Human Rights. (Source: Report of the Constitution Commission 1974, Item 78)

    We are convinced that it is wrong to set out rights and freedoms in absolute terms, defining them as fundamental, and then to provide that Parliament may pass laws expressly declaring that they shall have effect notwithstanding those rights and freedoms. The concept may well be seriously questioned if Parliament finds it necessary or prudent to pass such laws with any frequency. Indeed, the position in our view is made worse when some of them, far from being restrictive, are plainly beneficial in that they make available social and economic advantages never before enjoyed. We think therefore that it is better to define the rights and freedoms not in absolute but in qualified terms so that everyone should know and understand that they are limited in scope. At the same time, the permitted qualifications should not extend beyond what is reasonably justifiable in a society having a proper respect for the rights and freedoms of the individual or during a period of emergency beyond what is reasonably justifiable for the purpose of dealing with the situation existing during that period. (Source: Report of the Constitution Commission, Item 81)

    Clearly at the time of consultation, the Bar Association was out of touch with the needs of our developing society and had its recommendations been adopted the citizenry would now be eating the bread the devil knead.

    So, I wish to congratulate Justice Archie on his new appointment and echo Lucky’s sentiments “Go Archie, go!”

  • I do not wish to congratulate Chief Justice Ivor Archie because I am quite sure we could have done a lot ( way lot ) better than he( whoever he is or was ( cannot say for the future } quite frankly I,personally do not know the man …do you ????
    Or is it whoever the Press and the Politicians ” ram cram ” down your throat ( as long as he is Indian or African descent ) you decide he is great for the Job based on your own personal race and so if he is in your racial group you say,” yeah,yeah,great choice?”
    Speaking for myself I am saying what has the fellow accomplished to deserved the post ?
    What has he done for the rule of law in TNT ? What has he done by his public or private service which has contributed in a manifest and positive way to establishing the rule of law in TNT ?
    I say he did “NAD” which is equal to ,” NOT A Damn!”
    He definitely has done nothing ( like the Government ,Minority and Majority ) for the rule of Law because there has never ,ever,been a time in TNT when Lawlessness and Criminality in high and low places have been so rampant and seemingly uncontrollable!
    In my humble view they are all to blame including Archie Ivor or whatever he name!
    I have said it time and time again that I can end the crime in TNT ( by winning manifestly against crime and criminals ) in eighteen months and within the law and the Constitution and at low cost and as a bonus I shall solve the traffic problems in two years at low cost…now Mr.Ivor Archie cannot lay claim to any such promise nor any such action in all his Law career…. there is nothing significant to show …and I feel strongly that TNT have nothing to gain in his first (100) days or eighteen months in office except for the ” usual shake ups”…!
    He is not a Theodore Guerra,Frank Misir,Roland Crawford,Karl Hudson Phillips,Harold Koylass,Vernon DeLima nor edgar gaston Johnston nor Evan Rees and definitely no Hugh Wooding ,narine nor Lord Devlin…he seems to me to be more along the lines of US Political appointee to the Supreme Court John Roberts,Alito,former attorney General Gonzalez, Justice Scalia and Clarence Thomas who ( it is widely believed Thomas and Scalia gave the 2000 election to President Bush)…men who have little legal content and has showered us with no ,” legal sparks” and their only apparent claim to fame is to be ” well connected ” to the powers who recommends and conforms appointments to the post ?
    Help me here you intellectuals because I am not as smart as you folks but is not common sense above book sense ?
    It is a sad day for TNT as another lackluster ” good old fart!” is appointed to the highest office of the Land…God please,help us!

    I remain the feraless TNT Republican loving my TNT and saying again the problem is not party politics,poverty nor economics but ,” Racialism stupid!”

  • Did you all ever think about the ,” Cayman islands ?”

    It has no real products beyond conch and ( the murdering and canibalising of the hapless turtles) yet its money is higher than ours and the US!

    Why is that so for a country which relies on ” tourism” ?
    Oh,Oh,Oh!
    I forgot….it is a place where dishonest tax evaders and shadly people hide their ill gotten gains and dubiously earned income!

    It is amazing that the Ivor fellow had a juicy career there( never heard anything about him firing off ant great or significant legal sparks there either) in what ? Doing what ? Crime there is pratically non existent!

    Catching and kicking out illegal aliens are the biggest legal effort and even in that field we never heard of he!
    Why does Delabastide call him here ?

    What a strange way to find a judge ? Was delabastide there on banking business or simply on legal business or maybe a tourist or to recruit judges?
    How strange it is!

    Do you think the Chief Justice will rule for a law demaning ( under penality of 20 years in jail for refusal) that all citizens who ever worked in Government or had in any way obtained money from Government contracts etc must reveal if they have secret overseas accounts in the Caymans ?
    And I mean everybody from the President tot the Chief justice!
    Think he will rule in favour of such a law if the spineless Members of Parliament ever had the guts to pass such a law?
    Or is there one Law for Jail Panday and another law for secret accounts in the Caymans for ?????

  • I do not wish to congratulate Chief Justice Ivor Archie because I am quite sure we could have done a lot ( way lot ) better than he( whoever he is or was ( cannot say for the future } quite frankly I,personally do not know the man …do you ????

    Here you have living testimony to the ignorance and backwardness that still exist in T&T. He does not know the man, but unabashedly believes that we could have done better. This is the insanity that claims to have knowledge of how to change our Republic for the better. An intellectualism that brazenly proclaims that although it has never tasted a roti, it is sure that there is one sweeter somewhere.

    I wrote before about prejudice that is so blindingly influential that, for the hosts, it replaces objective reality. This is an example. The putting into gear of articulations prior to the engagment of cognitive mechanims. “I do not know him but I know he is no good”. Boy, what an idiot.

  • Hi Ruel, now this was good, loved it “This is the insanity that claims to have knowledge of how to change our Republic for the better. An intellectualism that brazenly proclaims that although it has never tasted a roti, it is sure that there is one sweeter somewhere.”

  • Sometimes the sheer idiocy of Kangal and his cohorts, the mis-spelled Willmns included,takes my breath away. Were we born and educated in the same place, I ask myself? If I am motivated to comment on public issues, for the betterment of society,and by training both secular and religious self-compelled to be honest and open, what motivates them? I shudder when I think of thousands of narrow, closed minds like these, in bar, and clubroom and office, expressing like sentiments, but unwilling, or due to lack of a computer, unable to hold their views up to public scrutiny.Do they go on to breed other litle one just like themselves? Do people like these become lawyers, and doctors as well as educators?

  • Yes they do Linda…very sadly they do! Some of the most closed minded bigotted types in T’dad society are the most well read, educated ones. Just look at our parliament, universities and media. And it is sad to know that they all play a major role in shaping the way that Trinidadians view themsleves and the world at large.

    People like Kangal should view themsleves as role models and infuencers (for want of a better word)of society. It’s an immense responsibility which (I think)they either ignore, use for selfish means, or just take very very lightly.

    As for Willmns, and people of the sort…they is probably a product of that influence!

  • Whoops…second to last sentence…I meant to say they “are”. Starting to sound like Willms

  • ( Linda it is Williamn…Happy to be of assitance!)
    They are starting to sound like me because in their sub-conscious they know that I am right and when I wrote GCE ( I got an A in English) spelling was then to be considered but in today’s world if I mis-spelt a word it is because I refuse to use ” Spell check ” like you probably do…do you ,Linda?
    Nice name ( I am sure you know ) it refers to ” beautiful” not scholarly in another language!
    So often the moderators edit do not approve of my replies ( as is their right to do ) hence you never really see it but you do not want to really see the sheer ripping away at the hypocrisy and folly and the bombast which sometimes are foisted upon us by some of you because you learnt a few “big words” ( which are not really big just unfamiliar to soma people even you all who use them) instead of ” kiss” and high sounding terms and phrases you think you are God’s gift to us when in fact all you folks do is ” talk) which is your right but long on talk and short on ” actionable intelligence!”
    If one does not agree with you then they ” are not welcome to your hotel California” and those who agree with you can check out but never leave!
    The bottom line is very clear….

    Speaking for myself yes I am very bigoted( according to some of you) when it comes to selecting the best of the best to serve in the highest office and the lowest office and all between in my beloved TNT….to get the best my bigoted mind ( again according to some of you) seem to demand that we have a criteria and that criteria is based upon the actions and contributions of the best of the best in TNT and the Caribbean.
    When I examine Archie Ivor ( and this is not personal strictly TNT’s business) and pin him up against the light of the legal luminaries of TNT and the Caribbean like Sir,Hugh Wooding,Justice Georges,Henry Hudson Phillips,Theodore Guerra,Vernon De Lima,Desmond Allum,Harold Koylass,Ralph Narine,Sir,Isaac Hyatali,Roland Crawford,Frank Misir,Karl Hudson Phillip,Sir,Edgar Gaston Johnson,Selwyn Richardson, Evans Rees,Justice Dennis Malone,Dr. A Willis,The Constitutional law Pioneer Ramesh L Maraj( need I go on ?)….I am sorry folks in the glare of such dazzling lights the Archie factor becomes and appears to my sight ( call it what you want ) very,very,pale ( not the fellow’s fault he just did not make the cut) and a rather insignificant source of legal light!
    Then upon further examination in fairness to the Gentleman,I looked back at his record and quite frankly never really even open up the slender file because whatever is inside of such a thin file must have had little impact upon the well being and the fostering of the firm and solid rule of law in TNT because by the time I was attempting to open the thin file I thought I hear the sound of gun shots and screams of fear from another terrified citizen as the brazen and seemingly indestructible criminals struck again and again and I wondered,” what effect upon the daring and rapidly advancing onslaught of crime upon our beloved TNT ….yes,what effect has The Honorable Mr. Archie Ivor had upon crime and the rule of Law in TNT?
    Got to run and hide under the bed for I think I hear another shooting!

  • Harry W. thanks for spelling your name.Convolutions of standard words are a problem for me. My proudest contribution to any dialogue in TnT is a novel called Coin of Gold,, launched in 2001. You can borrow a copy from the library. They put one in each, I think. There is not a big word in it, except for the silly name of one of the protagonists.(big word for a character around whom the conflict swirls) you see how many words one has to use to substitute for a “big ” word? That’s why some people use them.

    Anyway, you should read it. I know what my name means. My full name is beautiful woman, queen, good provider. My middle name is the French version of Helen, as in Helen of Troy.
    So, I am Spanish, French and English named, and committed to cultural and ethnic diversity. Can’t help, born for that purpose. This is not about me. Just thought I’d put you straight about a few things. Errors I type are usually because I am using my laptop instead of the PC, and I refuse to wear my glasses. Half the time I can’t find them. I am inclined, by training and experience, to believe the best of people, until shown otherwise, usually by their fallacious writings, masquerading as facts..

  • Williamn you started off by saying that you knew nothing of the man, now all of a sudden you have investigated his historic jurisprudence. How man Lawyers in T&T when stacked up against those you cited will fare better than Archie? And how many of them added to their fame by growth after assuming positions where their works elicited public and critical scrutiny?

    Law is rule of human conduct. And those charged with its administration serve it best when they manifestly bring fairness, objectivity and balance to the decisions they make. Most often these are not the qualities that attract attention. Because too many of us exist in a confused mental dimension where flamboyance and attracted media idiocy supplant the values we should be examining before we make our judgements.

    Then upon further examination in fairness to the Gentleman,I looked back at his record and quite frankly never really even open up the slender file because whatever is inside of such a thin file must have had little impact upon the well being and the fostering of the firm and solid rule of law in TNT because by the time I was attempting to open the thin file I thought I hear the sound of gun shots and screams of fear from another terrified citizen as the brazen and seemingly indestructible criminals struck again and again and I wondered,” what effect upon the daring and rapidly advancing onslaught of crime upon our beloved TNT ….yes,what effect has The Honorable Mr. Archie Ivor had upon crime and the rule of Law in TNT?
    Got to run and hide under the bed for I think I hear another shooting.

    Look how silly this guy is. He places responsibility for burgeoning crime in T&T on an incoming Chief Justice while placing the guy who was in there before him on a pedestal as one of the best. Where fairness and balance are concerned one would have to be cockeyed to assert that you were in the front of the line when the endowments were being made. It is a pity they did not test for reasoning and commonsense at the GCE level when you took those exams, because the grade you got might have served to awaken you to the fact that spelling has nothing to do with intelligence. Chimps can be taught to spell well.

    I find your grammatical output quite colorful. It is the context and reasoning that turns me off. One expects disagreements on these DBs. What flabbergast most people are reasonings that would not get past fourth grade. And attaching a link between burgeoning crime and the incoming Chief Justice, in order to bolster your opinion that he is not qualified for the position, is pathetic. In fact it is kindergarden level.

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