Praise, criticism from legal minds

Volney tendered his resignation on Wednesday and was screened yesterday to be the UNC candidate for St Joseph in the May 24 general election.

His shock move was the topic of conversations among judges, lawyers and staff of the Hall of Justice, Port-of-Spain, some of whom commented on the issue on the condition of anonymity.

For the most part, attorneys including several State counsels supported Volney.

One attorney said he was not surprised saying, “Volney had spent a considerable amount of time talking and talking about the issues. The man really wants to make a difference and I think he would do well.”

However, a senior counsel was not so understanding and said Volney’s action may create doubt about the independence of all judges.

“What Volney did was morally wrong. Persons would now start questioning sitting judges. How could one be a sitting judge today and the next day you are being screened by a political party. I agree judges should support any political party they want but they do it by their vote,” said the senior counsel.

Volney, he said, has now exposed himself to criticisms on a political platform.

“This will not augur well for sitting judges. The public is going to paint all other judges with the same brush. Volney’s decision was very bad, and very controversial.”

Addressing a PNM public meeting in Penal on Wednesday night, Prime Minister Patrick Manning questioned whether Volney’s resignation and prospective candidacy for the UNC meant that the UNC was interfering in the affairs of the Judiciary.

Concerns have now surfaced about certain rulings Volney made in the past before his entry into politics. Questions have been specifically raised about rulings made by Volney in the Brad Boyce and Seeromani Narayansingh cases in which they were cleared of separate murder charges.

However, one sitting judge said there was no need for concern and insisted Volney’s action had not affected the credibility of the Judiciary.

“Volney’s decision does not affect my independence as a judge, and I am sure that goes for my other brothers and sisters on the bench. I wish him the best. At least Volney had the decency to resign first. There were others like former Justice (Anthony) Lucky whose name was debated in Parliament for the post of President. It is amazing how people are selective in their condemnation and their praise.”

The judge also condemned the Prime Minister’s attack on Volney saying it was uncalled for.

“Volney was a criminal judge. Manning is hoodwinking the population with his take on the entire situation. We as judges now cannot defend ourselves. Small countries like ours do not have the luxury of resources and a wide ranging intellect. I have known Volney all my life. In this situation, I believe people conveniently take the high ground. It is disheartening,” the judge added.


"Praise, criticism from legal minds"

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