Appointment of 16 Attorneys-at-law to Senior Counsel

Appointment Ceremony of 16 Attorneys-at-law to Senior Counsel
16 Attorneys-at-law appointed to Senior Counsel

President: Silk comes with ability, good work
When it comes to high office holders, President George Maxwell Richards says the application for Senior Counsel (SC) status is not strictly followed. The President was speaking at the appointment ceremony of 16 attorneys-at-law to Senior Counsel—among them Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, Attorney General Anand Ramlogan, Chief Justice Ivor Archie and Director of Public Prosecutions Roger Gaspard—which took place at Knowsley yesterday. The President said in many instances, the individuals had “made significant contribution” and “a body of sufficient work preceding their appointment to public office.”

Appointments long overdue, says Max
President George Maxwell Richards has applauded the decision to award “silk” to 16 legal minds, whom he described as “well-deserving” appointees.

‘Welcome to new Senior Counsel’
Karl Hudson-Phillips,QC, Former Attorney-General

Rowley: Awarding one’s self silk, an abuse of process
OPPOSITION Leader Dr Keith Rowley yesterday described Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s award of silk to herself as a “vulgarity” and an “abuse” of process, as he called for urgent reform of the archaic rules that govern how lawyers are made into senior counsel.

Dana Seetahal: Taking silk

9 thoughts on “Appointment of 16 Attorneys-at-law to Senior Counsel”

  1. It is very often said that there is need for our constitution to be re-visited. There was never a clearer indication than now for a serious look at how our constitution is governed and how inefficient it can be in the eyes of the learned and unlearned. Recently, I was looking at a passport renewal form in it I observed a portion requiring one to “recommended” by a lawyer, doctor, public servant or similar “professional” before being considered for a renewal of one’s passport. In today’s environment, some of our biggest crooks are in the same category that such official government forms that we, as law-abiding, ordinary folks are asked to submit ourselves to and beg to be recommended to before consideration. Why do we have to be held subjective to the men and women who hold these positions? The last time I checked, if WASA’s plumbers were to strike and prevent our sewers from working it would create a bigger problem for the nation than if Ramlogan were to disappear for a week and no one heard from him. It is time we have a greater regard for people and what they do rather than “who we think they are!”. There is nothing in Kamla’s past or present that would lead one to believe that she deserves “silk” or possess the necessary accumen for silk at this point and time in her career. The same goes for Ramlogan, yet we are inundated with these self-serving appraisals that render our political directorates accolades that are more deserving than their experience and history would indicate. It is time to take away many forms of institutional prerogatives from the arms of the political directorate and channel them to mainstream ngo, psuedo ngos, church, historical,
    civic, cultural and non-political organisations rather than leaving everything for the PM to have the “last say”. It is precisely why we are in the position we are in today. The PM can get up one morning and hand over all the national intelligence to a moronic, uneducated, uninformed and inexperienced young woman and we, the population can do nothing about it. You can have an AG who determines that there is enough going on in what is talked about as “corruption” so he can get as much friends and acquaintances to be contracted (with government money), with no checks and balances. It would seem as though every thing is wrong with government (not necessarily just this one), that we the public, no matter what we do are the victims of “wrong decisions”. May God help us! while those in power are drinking champagne to celebrate their “silk”, we continue to be victims of abuse. Those abuses come in many different forms, institutional, professional, legal, criminal, health-wise, policing, safety or whatever form it takes to make our lives miserable. Yes!, I agree, it is time for true constitutional reform, one that respects ALL citizens and not just the Planter class.

  2. Karl blasts ‘misguided vanity’

    Court Protocol and Information Manager of the Judiciary, Jones P Madeira, has stayed clear of commenting on the protocol that governed the issuing of “silk” to Chief Justice Ivor Archie. Archie, in yesterday’s Guardian, stated that it was a mystery to him how his name was put forward. He said he made no application for SC rank, even though he had discussed with Attorney General Anand Ramlogan the names of those who should be granted silk. Archie was one of two judges who had received silk. The other being Justice Wendell Kangaloo. In a letter to the editor, published on page 24 today, former attorney general Karl Hudson-Phillips, QC, welcomed the 16 attorneys who were elevated.

    He argued that silk should be limited to practising advocates who have distinguished themselves at the bar and not for lawyers who, for example, have distinguished themselves in other areas of public service not connected with the law. Among those granted SC appointments by President George Maxwell Richards were Prime Minister Kamla Persad- Bissessar, Director of Public Prosecutions Roger Gaspard and Ramlogan. “For them there is always the system of national awards if they are deserving,” wrote Hudson-Phillips. He wrote that the fact that in the past a Chief Justice was able to persuade a prime minister to deviate from protocol and award the Chief Justice ‘silk’ was really no excuse for participating in the same breach of protocol in 2011.

    “It raises the question of why these worthy gentlemen were overlooked before their elevation to the Bench.” According to Hudson-Phillips, in the past there was a dignified sitting of the High Court, which was convened by the CJ for the purpose of welcoming new “silks”. Existing “silks” were invited to attend, while the new “silks” in their new robes sat at the outer Bar. The Court sat and the new “silks” were addressed by the CJ. The Court would then rise and the new “silks” were welcomed by their colleagues.

    “It is difficult to see how such a sitting could be held for a sitting Judge whose misguided vanity has persuaded him to accept silk,” stated Phillips, noting that in the recent past there was a deviation from the unwritten rule that “silk” was essentially for advocates and not for those practitioners who did not have audience or the right to appear and argue in the High Court. “However it is still thought by the more discerning that the honour should be reserved for advocates particularly those who defend the liberty and the rights of the citizen in the High Court or the Court of Appeal— not as judges but as advocates. “Silk” has been given honoris causa to academics who have contributes significantly to legal learning.

    Questioned if the Chief Justice will comment on Phillips’ statements, Madeira replied “absolutely not. I don’t see why he should. I really don’t anticipate that he will. I can ask him. The CJ said very little on what he had to say yesterday. (Friday).” Madeira said he anticipated no further comments on the issue. “The CJ does not like to talk about himself in the first place, as he indicated yesterday.” Madeira refused to give his views on the matter, stating that he was just the court protocol and information manager, who would not views to what people say. Madeira said he would try to get in contact with the CJ for a comment, but had his doubts that he would talk, since other people had approached him on the same issue.

    “In any event, the President also outlined the full protocol for the awarding of silk. If we go through it fully you would see he went through the criteria and then he spoke about people in high offices not being included, I am simply paraphrasing, not being included in the protocol that governs applications and so on. The CJ was quite clear yesterday in his comments to the Guardian and I don’t anticipate going beyond that.” At the appointment ceremony on Friday, Richards said the applications for SC to high office holders was not strictly followed, stating that a significant number of appointments was required to preserve the balance in the profession.

    The appointments, Richards said are made by him on advice of the Prime Minister. “The procedure which has been established is that members of the bar who wish to be appointed submit their application to the Attorney General, who then consults with the Chief Justice and such other party and bodies such as the Law Association as he considers necessary.” Thereafter the AG will then submit those recommendations to the Prime Minister who then advises the President.

  3. The careful weave of silk
    The decision to elevate the legal status of Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar and Attorney General Anand Ramlogan to Senior Counsel could have been reliably predicted to raise concerns about the procedure and practice of honouring legal practitioners. In this case, the issue becomes more troublesome because in their roles in Government, the Attorney General is responsible for compiling and ratifying the list of potential honorees and the Prime Minister then reviews the list before offering it to the President of the Republic as formal advice on the appointments.

    16 legal minds get silk
    Sixteen members of the legal fraternity were conferred with the status of senior counsel (silk) by President George Maxwell Richards on Friday. Today, Sunday Newsday profiles these individuals.

  4. This is a PM that obviously does not understand her place. She demeans her own high office when she lowers herself to award herself a lesser honour than the one she already holds. It is like the Chancellor of the University coveting an honourary doctorate. It is infra dig.

    Likewise, the Chief Justice should have turned down the award. For him too, it is infra dig. As CJ he is already one to whom an SC must bow.

    As to the AG, it clearly is inappropriate for him to recommend himself for the honour and title of SC. Nevertheless, it is again clearly the case that an AG, as head of the Bar, ex officio, must also be considered to be of a rank at least equal to SC. Therefore, it must obviously be the case that to hold the office of AG, one must either have been awarded the distinction of SC as a pre-requisite to holding the office, or be awarded the distinction, automatically, ex officio, on assumption of office. That would spare the incumbent the embarrassment, as here, of seeking to honour themselves. That too is infra dig, a case of himself awarding himself, and thanking himself ever so humbly, for the great honour bestowed upon himself.

    This UNC-PP government is a disgrace. Aware that there was something not quite right about awarding honours to oneself, they resorted to the PR gambit of broadening the list in such a manner as to camouflage themselves, and preemptively deflect criticism. Hence the award to the CJ, who obviously was caught unawares, and did not fully think through the ramifications (he must be regretting his acceptance now), and to the DPP, who may well deserve the award in any case on the merits, moreover ex officio.

    Earlier, this Government tainted the highest national award, now they taint the award of silk. How shameful.


    Matthew 23:4-6. 4For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. 5But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, 6And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues …

  5. Hey Karl , enough already with this political distraction, as no one cares if Her Majesty Queen K , wishes to give herself silk , as well as every other lawyer-dead, or alive – that ever emerged in this country, since 1962.
    We do not even care if while on her ancestral trip to India,to drink cappuccino with Italian Sonia Gandhi,she likewise, choose to give silk to a couple thousand of her Bhelupur village relatives, and lofty, British trained lawyers from that land.‘roots’-india

    Let us here your views on us FINALLY eliminating ,the anachronistic British Privy Council , as our final Court of Appeal. In short , our concerns are only about the fundamental issues of the day , that can advance our nation.
    Now if you still wish to be useful , share some light on your plans for the ONR , turn COP fraction of the PP.
    It’s all about the future, T&T.

  6. Mr. Justice de la Bbastide’s letter in the Guardian of Jan. 4th, makes a mockery of this entire scheme. Why could not this government forget partisanship and consult with some senior heads, like De La BAstide and Hudson-Phillips, before acting on what may come to seem like a mockery of the very Westminister system we laud and uphold? Most ridiculous of all was the PM giving herself an award. As a lawyer, I wonder if she knows the words “recuse onself”?

    Its already done. I can imagine hearing laughter throughout the Commonwealth as they think we are a bunch of know nothings.Forthe length of time Elizabeth 11 has been Queen of England, she has conferred many titles. She has awarded herself none that was not hande down by tradition. What a model!.

  7. How it go look?
    The Prime Minister’s first case as Senior Counsel will be to provide the evidence of her qualifications for that appointment.

    Former Attorney General, Karl Hudson-Phillips, QC yesterday called on Chief Justice Ivor Archie and Appeal Court Judge, Justice Wendell Kangaloo who recently accepted “Silk,” “to return forthwith” their instruments bestowing the title Senior Counsel.

    Judges ineligible for ‘silk’ says De la Bastide
    Former chief justice and president of the Caribbean Court of Justice Michael de la Bastide says the award of Senior Counsel (silk) to an incumbent Chief Justice or to a sitting judge of the Court of Appeal of T&T is an “aberration.”

    Ex-CJ: No ‘silk’ to sitting members of judiciary
    ‘…embarrassment among Commonwealth’
    FORMER chief justice Michael de la Bastide has joined the growing chorus of voices to speak out against the recent award of “silk” to two sitting members of the judiciary. He describes it as an aberration which, if previously committed, should not have been repeated.

    Tainted ‘silk’ system overdue for reform

  8. It never ceases to amaze me , on the naivety , bordering on stupidity, favored by some of my fellow humans. What the hell are you yapping away about today Neal you enquire?
    Well, ‘me think’ dat in typical fashion , Black folks -even when highly educated- cannot see big picture , so as to bury their petty ,neo tribalist differences , and seize the moment for a higher good. First we have clueless Patrick Manning , even after 40 years in politics, still trying to be an idiot spoiler against Tobago’s own , Dr Keith Rowley , for having the audacity to bringing down his then PNM government, by serving his Canadian billionaire pal Hart’s head on a platter,for Queen Kamla, and her UNC bunch.
    Here today ,we have the great Grenadian legal high end guru, Karl Hudson Phillip , beating up on our Chief Justice,over this distractive issue, as opposed to the real culprit ,in ‘Her Majesty Queen K,’and her minions,who pushed the ego inflated move ,in the first place.Who gives a hoot about who get’s silk or not really?
    Is it poor hungry citizens,unable to afford a decent lawyer that can defend them over class based ,trumped up charge to fulfill some ‘opaque ,tough on crime , global back slapping,or vote luring posture?
    Certainly not White Color bums , and bandits, trying too desperately to avoid the Yankee legal wrath , in similar manner to their political Basdeon aka Nehru incarnation, all the while pretending to love our local legal system.
    By the way,where was this self righteous ,Trini hating Karl, when Chief Justice Shama,and his political pal Basdeo ,was likewise destroying our entire judiciary, a la a Chief Magistrate ,only to be eventually saved,from a symbolic,Cat – o – 9 Tail shellacking,in the end?
    Would someone tell Karl that his era is over,that this reentry effort into politics , will get him and former party nowhere , and better yet Tobago, and it’s people ,was never his problem. Have those historically maligned, neglected , disrespected people, not experience enough , public humiliation , and psychological putdowns at the hands of ignoramus folks based in Trinidad?
    What a pathetic sight for sore eyes! Can anyone wake me up when they see something comparable to this public onslaught on an Indo -Trini citizens,by another person of his own tribe?
    Sorry , but it just ain’t happening.
    In de interim , we wish our people well.
    Luv Humanity!

  9. I think of the formal protocol of one of my former students, now a lawyer in Washington, DC. being recognized as a possible defendant of a client before the Supreme Court of the USA.

    She was notified three months in advance, at least. She had to have as a presenter, a practicing attorney who can appear before the court, and she must have been thoroughly vetted before anything went further. She said the process only lasted a minute or two. When her name was called., she and her pesenter stepped forward to a designated spot, bowed to the nine judges assembled, and they stepped back to their place.

    No scandal. Protocol. They left the colonial system behind and boldly forged their own. They have won international respect for their procedures and judgments.

    I am all for carving our own niche in the world. I ask only, for the sake of those who built up this country to be what it is, and are still doing so daily,making ita shining gem in many ways, that we think out what we do. Have a moot court on situations like this, kick it around, and look at possible spin offs. We continue to govern by vaps and hassekara.

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