Nandlall says judges not absolved from criticisms
Attorney General Anil Nandlall, SC, is reminding those who serve Guyana’s judiciary as judges that they are not absolved from criticism.
In fact, Nandlall reasoned that once the condemnation is offered respectfully and without ulterior or immoral motives, then it should be welcomed and not rebuffed.
“The law permits such exchanges,” the Attorney General said during his Tuesday night ‘Issues in the News’ commentary aired on his Facebook page.
In the last two weeks, local judges received flak for failing to comply with laws relating to the time limit for delivering written decisions. It was Nandlall who led those criticisms which were later articulated by others on social media.
But the integrity of judges who sit at the Appeal Court and who delivered decisions during Guyana’s protracted general elections in 2020 has also been called into question by Professor Cynthia Barrow-Giles, who led the supervisory CARICOM Recount Team to Guyana during those elections.
The criticisms did not sit well with Chancellor of the Judiciary (ag) Yonnette Cummings-Edwards who earlier this week expressed dissatisfaction with the reports on “social media and otherwise”.
“It is a sad state of affairs in Guyana,” Justice Cummings-Edwards said during the hearing of a matter on Monday at the Appeal Court.
One day after, Nandlall responded saying that the executive arm of government enjoys “good, independent and respectful relations” with the Legislative arm.
“It doesn’t mean that we cannot offer criticism and commentary on each other.
“If the judiciary is not complying with principle and pieces of legislation… then it is open for the executive to comment,” he added.
Nandlall said he has no difficulty with the explanation of the Chancellor that there is a shortage of judges, assuring that this will be addressed shortly.
“Government will be moving to address that issue… but the failure to write decisions in a timely manner has been a problem for a very, very long time,” he added.
The Attorney General said healthy exchanges must be encouraged in a democracy and he hopes it is not viewed as affecting the good relations between the executive and legislature.
The Chancellor had explained that a shortage of judges and the absence of a website to which decisions can be posted was affecting the adherence of Time Limit for Judicial Decisions Act, No. 9 of 2009 which imposes a six-month limit for written decisions. It was Nandlall who had piloted that Bill in the National Assembly.
The Attorney General offered no comment on the criticisms which question a possible politicization of the judiciary and the less than needed integrity of some judges.
In October, Justice Adrian Saunders, the President of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) – Guyana’s highest Court of Appeal – had said he was impressed with the leadership in the country’s judiciary.
To make his point, the CCJ President cited the efficient disposition of cases, elimination of backlogs, embrace and deployment of technological innovations, the premium placed on training and the employment of alternative dispute resolution mechanisms.
He singled out Chancellor Cummings-Edwards and Chief Justice (ag) Roxane George for commendations in this regard.