Luncheon's statement on magistracy unfortunate
-Chief Justice
Stabroek News
February 7, 2002

Chief Justice Carl Singh says he considered the remarks by Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr Roger Luncheon, about members of the magistracy being corrupt, unfortunate as many magistrates were honest, dedicated and hardworking.

Justice Singh conceded that there had been complaints about magistrates which raised grave suspicions. But he said that they remained in the realm of suspicions as people were unwilling, for one reason or another, to become involved in an investigative process to establish the facts.

The Chief Justice's comments were in response to a statement by Luncheon, whom he described as a politician, at a press conference on Monday about the poor work ethic and corruption in the magistracy being related to inadequate remuneration.

About the recent re-assignments of magistrates, the Chief Justice explained there had been complaints against one or two of the magistrates whose performance had not been satisfactory. He said that they had not only been shifted but internal measures taken to deal with their performance.

Asked if these magistrates had been put on notice, the Chief Justice observed that the magistrates were repeatedly put on notice that they "must be concerned about the public perception of the way they conduct their courts and the way they conduct themselves in public."

The Chief Justice said too that there was evidence of some "magistrates not giving a satisfactory day's work; of being on the bench while under the influence of alcohol; of being seen in dingy bars and rum shops when they should have been at work."

He said too that there was evidence of magistrates acting outside the jurisdiction given them by particular statutes. "In effect there is evidence of improper and irresponsible conduct on the part of certain magistrates but in the same breath I would like to say that there is to be found within the magistracy honest, dedicated and hardworking magistrates."