Open Letter to the Law Association of T&T
Attn: Ms. Sophia Chote S.C.
Law Association of Trinidad and Tobago
It was extremely disappointing to read the opinions of the LATT published in a Media Release on Friday, July 22, 2022, with regards to the Motion of No Confidence of Mr. Reginald Armour S.C. and the subsequent public discussion regarding the outcome of the vote. The fact that the Law Association has chosen to take umbrage with the statements of the Leader of the Opposition as opposed to the more substantive matter as it relates to the actions of Mr. Reginald Armour which prompted his disqualification from a court in Miami-Dade county for breaching the Florida Rules of Professional Responsibility which expressly prohibit an attorney from serving as counsel on behalf of a client who is directly adverse to a former client in the same or substantially similar proceeding. The fact that Mr. Armour has faced absolutely no consequences for his poor ethical behavior, barring the disqualification itself, raises serious concerns among the citizens of this nation, especially as Mr. Armour is the Attorney General, and should therefore be held to the highest standards of honesty, decency, and morality, but more importantly, is a greater understanding of the Rules of Law, which should have prevented this debacle from ever taking place. Instead, and through the direct actions of Mr. Reginald Armour, the reputation and good standing of the Office of the Attorney General, and by extension the entire Government of Trinidad and Tobago, has been tarnished in the eyes of the international community for this allegedly deliberate act of subterfuge.
That having been said, it is even more aggravating that the Law Association appears to attack Mrs. Kamla Persad Bissessar for her comments on the matter as it relates to the perceived conflict of interest that should have disqualified members of the Council of the LATT from voting on the Motion of No Confidence in Mr. Reginald Armour, when in fact, it was Ms. Sophia Chote S.C., President of the Law Association, who first raised the issue of recusals for persons who might have been sitting in that Council. In a story published in the Trinidad Express on Tuesday, June 14, 2022, Ms. Chote was quoted stating the following:
“If a matter is raised you may have persons on the council who may have to declare their interest one way or the other because remember this is a matter that is 20 years old which has had a long history … So we will have to see which attorneys on the council have interest to declare then those on the council will determine whether those persons should recuse themselves or not from the discussion.”
How then is it possible that the President of the Law Association can make a statement publicly about her concerns regarding individuals of the Council having to recuse themselves, only for the Law Association to turn around and criticize the Leader of the Opposition for questioning why the organization still allowed persons known to have a conflict of interest to still participate in both the floor debate and the voting process? Moreover, why is the Law Association singling out and criticizing Mrs. Kamla Persad Bissessar for revealing the names of individuals who participated in the Motion of No Confidence, when this information was already disseminated in the daily newspapers?
In the copy of the Newsday newspaper published on Friday, July 15, 2022, in their summary coverage of the debate of the Motion of No Confidence in Mr. Reginald Armour S.C., the following disclosure was made:
“Newsday understands Armour received support from his colleagues in the inner bar, all of whom spoke against the motion. They included former Law Association president Russell Martineau, Elton Prescott and Gilbert Peterson, among others. Also speaking against the motion were senior attorneys Michael Quamina, Ravi Rajcoomar, Ravi Nanga and Terrance Bharath, among others.”
This information was made public less than twenty-four hours after the vote on the Council of the Law Association of T&T was cast, and a full three days prior to the statements made by Mrs. Kamla Persad Bissessar on Monday, July 18, 2022. Yet, the Law Association has not criticized nor even mentioned Newsday in their Media Release condemning the Leader of the Opposition for the same act.
More importantly, however, is the revelation that these attorneys opted to argue on behalf of Mr. Reginald Armour S.C. during the debate of the Motion of No Confidence calls into question the legitimacy of the declaration made by Ms. Sophia Chote S.C. that persons with a conflict of interest may have been asked to recuse themselves based on their previous affiliation with the numerous lawsuits surrounding the construction of the Piarco International Airport. Of the attorneys named in the Newsday article, it has also been reported publicly in the past that:
Mr. Russel Martineau S.C. was representing Mr. Ameer Edoo in the Piarco matter at the same time that Mr. Reginald Armour S.C. was representing Mr. Brian Kuei Tung;
Mr. Gilbert Peterson S.C. was the lead attorney representing the State under the administration of Dr. Keith Rowley in prosecuting the matter known as Piarco II;
Mr. Ravi Rajcoomar was representing Mr. Ishwar Galbaransingh in the Piarco matter at the same time that Mr. Reginald Armour S.C. was representing Mr. Brian Kuei Tung.
The fact that these three individuals were not only allowed to take part in the voting process on the Motion of No Confidence in Mr. Reginald Armour S.C. but to also address the floor in his defense is extremely dubious and brings the Motion and subsequent vote into disrepute. The question now falls upon the Law Association and its President, Ms. Sophia Chote S.C., to disclose:
Whether or not these individuals declared their affiliation with the Piarco trials; and more importantly,
If these three individuals all disclosed their affiliation to the Piarco trials, why were they not asked to recuse themselves from the debate and voting process?
That said, I do hope that these three gentlemen do not attempt to use the same excuse of memory loss that Mr. Armour claimed to be suffering with regarding his past affiliation with the Piarco briefs, otherwise, it may be that there needs to be an investigation into whether this case is creating a medical epidemic among those attached to it.
The fact of the matter is that the issue surrounding state briefs raised by the Leader of the Opposition may not be the only way that the Motion of No Confidence in Mr. Reginald Armour S.C. may have been compromised, and it falls upon the Law Association of T&T and its President to address these issues lest the entire organization appear to be biased in dealing with the serious breach of ethics of its former President.
As such, I thank you for your time and consideration of this matter and I look forward to a prompt response.
Ravi Balgobin Maharaj
Mob: +1 868 476-6181