Monday 1 June, 2020

CJ fires back at Justice Gobin over transfer: It's your duty as judge

Photo via the Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago, dated 17 April, 2014.

Photo via the Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago, dated 17 April, 2014.

Chief Justice Ivor Archie has responded to Justice Carol Gobin, after she criticised his decision to transfer her to the Family Court in Tobago from September 16.

Justice Gobin, in an email to the Chief Justice, labelled the move as a ‘forced physical relocation’ of a member of staff and noted that there was no consultation.

“The forced physical relocation of a member if staff, without consultation is the most intrusive decision which can be undertaken in the management of any Enterprise.”

The Chief Justice, in response, fired back at Gobin stating that he is unaware of any practice of consultation before assignment to any particular court.

Archie noted that as a High Court Judge he was assigned without any consultation and he always accepted, as he understood his duty to the Judiciary.

“As you know, it has always been the responsibility and duty of the Chief Justice to assign judges. It is this duty that I have carried out. As one of the longest serving judges, I am unaware of any settled or unvarying practice of consultation before assignment to any particular court. As a High Court judge I was often assigned without prior consultation and understood that my duty to the Judiciary, which I accepted on appointment, was to work wherever I was assigned,” Archie replied.

He said it is therefore her duty to as a judge to fulfil her obligations, regardless of where she is assigned.

“You are a judge of the High Court of Trinidad and Tobago and should therefore expect to be assigned to adjudicate anywhere in our beloved country. I can’t ask you to be happy about going to TOBAGO if it is something that you are not happy about, but I do ask you to note it and to understand that it is your duty as a judge,” he said.

The CJ also noted that Gobin is well suited for the job.

“I have perused and considered the full list of judges in the civil jurisdiction who may be assigned to the Family Court and your background of strong family practice at the Bar places you in the position of being an eminently suitable judge to start the family court in Tobago.”

However, he lamented that Justice Gobin chose to respond to his email by copying all judges.

Archie also noted this method of communication and said he would like it to end.

“Yet again, I wrote to you personally but you have insisted on responding by email copied to all judges and judicial officers and I have had to see our communication in the newspapers and as the topic of discussion on television."

"This now, unfortunately, forces me to copy my response to all judges and judicial officers. I wish to put on record that I do not like this method of communicating and I would like it to end. It is not good for the organisation," he said.

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