Who is Sherman Mc Nicolls? *LINK*
Posted By: News
Date: 10, May 06, at 10:44 a.m.
Mc Nicolls was called to the local bar on November 19, 1982. One month later, he was appointed to the Chief State Solicitor’s office where he remained until his appointment to Assistant Registrar of the Supreme Court in April 1983.
On April 24, 1988, he was appointed a magistrate and presided over cases in South. Mc Nicolls sat in Siparia and San Fernando, before he had a long stint at the Point Fortin Magistrates’ Court. He sat from October 1989 to December 1993 in Point Fortin during which he presided over the famous Cops v Cops case.
In December 1993, Mc Nicolls was appointed Registrar and Marshal of the Supreme Court. Apart from being responsible for the day to day affairs of the Supreme Court, Mc Nicolls’ most important period came in July 1994.
He had to witness the controversial hanging of convicted killer Glen Ashby at the Port-of-Spain State Prison.
“As Registrar and Marshal, I had to be there to witness the hanging. The hangman is the Marshal’s assistant. I also had to witness the post-mortem which was done by Dr Ramnath Chandu Lal.”
Mc Nicolls returned to the Magistracy in March 1998 as a senior magistrate. In April 1999, he was appointed Chief Magistrate when Beecham Maharaj retired. This appointment meant that his office was now in Port-of-Spain. His duties included assigning all magistrates to various courts in Trinidad and Tobago, performing administrative functions, and appearing in court. Mc Nicolls said he did not stay in Port-of-Spain. He moved around to various districts. One case in point was in 2001 when he went to San Fernando and presided over the preliminary inquiry into the kidnapping of Camille Bobart.
But all his internal travels came to an end with the laying of charges against eight persons in 2003 in the Piarco Airport corruption case. That preliminary inquiry is still in progress before Mc Nicolls in Port-of-Spain.
But between 2003 and now, there has been a proliferation of high profile cases and murder inquiries. He is presiding over the inquiry in which Jamaat Al Muslimeen leader Yasin Abu Bakr was charged with conspiracy to murder two expelled members of the Jamaat. In 2005, he presided over another inquiry concerning Bakr. This time, Bakr was charged with sedition, terrorism, and incitement. He refused Bakr bail — a decision which was upheld in the High Court.
Mc Nicolls presides over all the extradition cases. These included Lance Small, who was extradited to Miami to face gun running charges. The others were Ronald Rackal, Hafeez Mohammed, Ramesh Doon and Indaryartee Dwarika who were sent to Fort Lauderdale to face charges of conspiracy to import cocaine into the United States.
Last week, requests were made to Mc Nicolls by the US for the extradition of five Trinidadians for the kidnap of US citizen Balram “Balo” Maharaj who was eventually killed.
Mc Nicolls also presides over high-profile inquests. As Coroner, he sat for days to deal with the two killings at the Prime Minister’s St Ann’s residence in 2000. Then, there was the inquest into the death of 11-year-old schoolboy Akiel Chambers, whose body was mysteriously found in the swimming pool of businessman Charles James at Haleland Park, Maraval. Mc Nicolls ruled that someone was responsible for Akiel’s death and sent the file back to the Commissioner of Police for further evidence.
Mc Nicolls also presided over the shooting of teenager Phillip Seerattan at the International School at Westmoorings. At the end of the inquest, he ordered that two police officers be charged with manslaughter. But the Director of Public Prosecutions dropped the cases against the two officers.
But the biggest case of them all was the laying of charges against former Prime Minister Basdeo Panday. Panday was charged on September 18, 2002 with knowingly failing to declare his London bank account to the Integrity Commission for the years 1997, 1998, and 1999.
But from the first appearance before Mc Nicolls, Panday and his lawyers indicated their intention to challenge the laying of the charges.
When all legal challenges failed, the summary trial began before Mc Nicolls on March 20 this year. The case was all over after seven days. Mc Nicolls reserved judgment for one month. Last Monday, Mc Nicolls stunned the country, not by finding Panday guilty, but by sending him to prison for two years.
Panday, 72, spent four nights at the Maximum Security Prison in Arouca until he got bail from Justice Anthony Carmona in the High Court on Friday.
Mc Nicolls operates on fast mode. Sometimes, he hears 12 murder inquiries simultaneously. How does he do it?
“With the increase in murder cases in St George West, I have to do that. I hear all murder inquiries. If I don’t do that, some people won’t have their cases heard for a long time. I try to get these cases going shortly after their first appearance. I ensure that witnesses are brought to court. I get the system moving and I can say it works and everybody has a speedy inquiry,” the Chief Magistrate added.
In the space of 16 months, Mc Nicolls has had to eject two senior lawyers from his court because of their dress code. In January 2005, he told Israel Khan not to wear a Nehru suit in his court. Khan was offended and filed for judicial review. That case is still pending.
Then last Wednesday, Mc Nicolls ejected Fyard Hosein from his court for wearing a bow tie. That is not the end of that matter. Only time will tell.
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