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AG’s statement wrong

Judicial sources: No judge was assigned to case...
Published: 
Wednesday, January 28, 2015
E-mailgate defamation lawsuit
Anand Ramlogan

As the controversy surrounding the defamation E-mailgate lawsuit continues to rage, legal sources have confirmed that Justice Judith Jones was never assigned to the case.

Attorney General Anand Ramlogan, in a statement last week Thursday, said Jones had been assigned to the matter after Justice Frank Seepersad recused himself.

“Given the seriousness of this matter, I hereby ask Dr Rowley and (Faris) Al-Rawi whether they will agree to a joint application asking a newly-assigned judge, Madam Justice Judith Jones, to deem this matter fit for urgent and early trial in the month of April 2015,” Ramlogan had said.

However, reliable judicial sources said when Ramlogan made that statement no judge had been assigned to the case. 

Subsequent to Ramlogan’s statement, Justice Robin Mohammed was assigned to deal with the lawsuit but he had to recuse himself since Rowley’s daughter, Tonya, is his judicial research assistant.  T&T Guardian was reliably informed that the matter has now been assigned to Justice Ronnie Boodoosingh. 

Expressing concern about the amount of misinformation being spread in the public domain, the source said: “The question is who gave the Attorney General that information. When he made that statement about Justice Jones being appointed the system reflects that no assignment was made.”

Seepersad extricated himself from the matter after his assistant, judicial support officer Reshma Pariag, failed to inform attorneys for Opposition leader Dr Keith Rowley that he had set January 7 as the deadline for them to file a defence in the matter. The information was only passed to Ramlogan and his attorneys. 

As a consequence, on January 14 the assistant registrar entered judgment in default against Rowley, which was hailed as a legal victory by Ramlogan who demanded an apology from Rowley. However, Al-Rawi said Rowley’s legal team was never informed by the Judiciary of the deadline date for filing of the defence.

 The Judiciary conducted preliminary investigations and on Monday issued a statement stating there was no evidence of a conspiracy to pervert the course of justice but an officer did fail in her duties to inform Rowley’s attorneys of the deadline date.

Responding to the Judiciary findings, Ramlogan said he had no problem with the judgment being set aside and the matter going to trial.

Rowley’s attorney Faris Al-Rawi welcomed the Judiciary findings but said the PNM was greatly concerned about how and why Ramlogan himself was e-mailed by the JSO.

There was a mix up

When asked where he got the information that Justice Jones was assigned to the matter, Ramlogan, in a telephone interview, said there may have been a mix-up.

“I think there might have been a mix-up because Justice Jones is in fact assigned to deal with one of the cases.” However, he said, it did not matter which judge was assigned to the case. 

“I don’t really care which judge tries this case as I have confidence in the Judiciary and its ability to be independent and fair,” he added.

T&T Guardian was unable to reach Al-Rawi on his cellphone yesterday for a comment.

 

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