Monday 25 March, 2019

Council of Law Association says Chief Justice’s silence reckless

The Council of the Law Association says it has read with increasing alarm the allegations of improper conduct levelled directly against Chief Justice Ivor Archie.

The Council issued a statement on Thursday in which it expressed its concerns.

It said of particular concern is the allegation that Archie has intervened to obtain preferential treatment in the distribution of public housing to his acquaintances.

It has been reported that the Chief Justice attempted to advise Supreme Court Judges to change their state-provided security in favour of a private security company that employs his close friend Dillian Johnson, as a consultant. 

It has also been alleged that Johnson, a convicted felon was listed as one of 12 people who successfully obtained HDC houses after the Chief Justice personally called senior HDC officials to fast-track the applications.

The Council said it is even more troubled at the failure of the CJ to respond to these damaging allegations despite calls from various quarters, including the Law Association, publicly and privately, that he do so with alacrity.

It added that the Chief Justice’s silence is nothing short of reckless.

“The Chief Justice's steadfast refusal to refute these and other accusations levelled against him is unacceptable and incomprehensible. The Council is of the view that the Chief Justice's continued failure to challenge the allegations has the potential to irreparably bring the Office of Chief Justice into disrepute, and by extension tarnish the entire Judiciary,” the statement said.

The Council said it has resolved to ascertain/substantiate the facts upon which the allegations made against the Chief Justice were alleged to be based with a view to determining what, if any, further action might be appropriate.

It said in this regard, attention is drawn to section 5 of the Legal Profession Act which mandates that the purposes of the Law Association include representing and protecting the interests of the legal profession and promoting, maintaining and supporting the administration of justice and the rule of law.

The Council of Law Association noted that in relation to similar provisions governing the Belizean Bar Association, the Privy Council commented that complaints alleging inability and misbehaviour on the part of a justice of the Supreme Court would be a matter of concern to the Bar Association.

As such, the Council of Law Association said it will continue to discharge its statutory mandate to the best of its ability.

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