CCJ President wants ‘packing’ of the Court of Appeal

President of the CCJ Justice Adrian Saunders

President of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) Justice Adrian Saunders has called for an increase of judges at Guyana’s Court of Appeal.

Saunders was at the time speaking at a dinner hosted by the Guyana Bar Association on Saturday evening.  The Guyana Bar Association (GBA) is headed by Ms. Pauline Chase, an elected member on the PPPC list of candidates who contested the controversial 2020 elections and the daughter of Senior Counsel Ashton Chase, the most senior living member of the People’s Progressive Party.

She is aptly supported by Kamal Ramkarran, the son of another PPP/C stalwart, Ralph Ramkarran. Ms. Pauline Chase was also nominated by the PPP to sit on the soon-to-be reconstituted Public Procurement Commission (PPC).

During the champagne popping, folk sticking event, the CCJ President was at pains trying to assure his skeptics that the Court holds no biases and is free of political influence. News Source Guyana quoted Justice Saunders as saying that “over the years the CCJ has had to address a wide range of cases, some of them involving delicate issues of great national and public importance. Always we have executed our responsibilities and will continue to do so without regard to race, colour, creed, class, political affiliation or other such matter”.

However, some statements made by Justice Saunders have painted a different picture of the Court and where it stands on matters of National and Political importance.

President Saunders is being reported in sections of the media as calling on the Ali Government to increase the compliments of judges at the Court of Appeal.  He is quoted as saying that “the Executive needs to provide the judiciary with its reasonable needs… three judges on the Court of Appeal are simply not enough.

In December of 2021, controversial Minister of Local Government Nigel Dharamlall launched a similar and more direct attack on Chancellor of the Judiciary, Yonette Cummings, and Justice of Appeal Dawn Gregory after they ruled that the Guyana Court of Appeal could hear an appeal on the dismissal of an Opposition election petition.

Dharamlall’s attack on the Justices of Appeal was in reaction to Opposition Liberty and Justice Party (LJP) Parliamentarian Lenox Shuman’s welcoming of their decision that they could hear the appeal on a procedural point.

“Lenox Shuman speaks from both sides of his mouth. His rank opportunism and equivocation are palpable. You can’t be calling for the rule of law on the one hand and then commending two PNC activists on the bench for going against the law,” said Dharamlall.

The installed Attorney General Anil Nandlall has also gone after the two female judges, noting that there was a pattern in their decisions. Added to this is the numerous vile and racist attacks that Justice Cummings and Justice Dawn-Greggor have had to endure publicly and on social media from mainly PPP supporters who were unhappy with the decisions of the Court.

It is in this context that the statement by Justice Saunders must be seen and analyzed. Justice Saunders utterance, unintended or not, purports to endorse the racist, corrupt and dictatorial principles of the PPP, values that are uncharacteristic of an impartial justice system.

More, In The Ring.