The Judicial Services Commission (JSC) has
instituted disciplinary charges against Chief Magistrate Juliet
Holder-Allen following complaints against her and has asked
Justice of Appeal Claudette Singh to inquire into them and, if proven,
to recommend the appropriate penalty.
Highly-placed sources told Stabroek
News the proceedings stem from a
letter sent by the JSC to the Chief Magistrate on October 1, 2004
detailing several allegations of misconduct against her.
The sources say that these allegations relate to several issues:
made by Holder-Allen in the Kaieteur
News (KN) about the Chancellor of
the Judiciary, Desiree Bernard;
a statement made by
Holder-Allen in Kaieteur
News where she allegedly
threatened not to resume sittings;
against her by Human Services Minister, Bibi Shadick;
by a Ms Duff that Holder-Allen used offensive language in her court
by another magistrate that Holder-Allen interfered with a decision.
Responding to the allegations raised made against her, the Chief
Magistrate replied to the JSC on the 7th of October setting out her
positions. In relation to the complaint laid by Chancellor Bernard
against her, the Chief Magistrate said she was merely commenting to KN
on remarks made in relation to her by the Chancellor.
"My comment was an expression of my opinion and was not intended
to give the impression that Her Honour, the Chancellor was uneducated
or unlearned. In fact I did say that in my opinion the Learned
Chancellor and myself had training in different branches of the
law", the Chief Magistrate wrote, according to sources.
She said it had not been her intention to insult the Chancellor by the
statement "and I do regret if such might have been the
With respect to the second allegation that she threatened not to
resume sittings, the Chief Magistrate said "the (KN) newspaper
article was written in the words and style of the reporter. The words
used were designed to catch the eye and interest of the reading
public. That is the way of their business. The only question that
needs to be asked of me is whether I did in fact say the offending
words or held the interview. To this my answer is simply 'no'".
The Chief Magistrate explained that on the day in question she had
returned to her court after her vacation and after entering her
chambers had found some administrative problems including the presence
of some strange documents in her book case which raised questions
about who had had access to the keys.
She said that since the starting time for court was affected she
decided to have all the matters before her dealt with in Court Two
"I have always made sure that the works of the Magistrates'
Courts are carried on, despite the most adverse conditions", she
With respect to the complaint by Minister Shadick which pertained to a
call that the Chief Magistrate allegedly made to her, Holder-Allen
said "the Honourable Minister and myself are not friends of any
kind and certainly we do not call each other at all on the telephone.
The Honourable Minister cannot profess to be an authority on what my
voice may sound like over the telephone since I have never made any
telephone call to her whatsoever. The telephone number referred to in
the complaint does not belong to me neither do I have any interest in
As to Ms Duff's allegation, the Chief Magistrate said the complaint
In relation to an allegation that she had interfered with a decision
rendered by Magistrate Bertlyn Reynolds, Holder-Allen said that
Reynolds had already made her decision and she was "merely
offering her the benefit of my `experience' in such cases". She
added that the practice of discussing law, decisions made and
experience applied is a vital part of the profession.
"The Commission need not be overly worried. To be sure Ms
Reynolds will never more have access to my knowledge and experience in
dealing with matters, ever again, not under this sun.", the Chief
Before addressing the complaints, the Chief Magistrate in her letter
to the JSC outlined her longstanding concerns that she had been
bypassed for promotion to judgeship and noted that she had had cause
to lodge a complaint with the Resident Representative of the United
Nations several years ago. She said she had submitted evidence of bias
and acts of discrimination against her on the grounds of her race and
"For many years I have observed junior magistrates enjoying rapid
promotions within the system and being promoted to the Higher bench
ahead of me, all in blatant breaches of industrial relations and
public service rules relating to seniority and equality". The
Chief Magistrate said in the letter that no grounds ever existed for
her to be bypassed for promotional opportunities.
She cited the case of two recent judicial appointments and noted that
she had not been considered for one of these posts during the
deliberations by the JSC. "Clearly, I would consider that an
injury has been perpetuated against me, if the tribunal charged with
the legal responsibility of considering my promotional prospects had
acted in such a manner as to deny me a higher appointment and thereby
deprived me of the right to enjoy a higher standard of living",
the Chief Magistrate wrote.
She further contended in her letter that the Chief Justice is the Head
of the Supreme Court and that any complaint against a magistrate
should first be investigated by him before being referred to the JSC.
Legal sources close to the Chief Magistrate have also argued that the
JSC should not delegate to Justice Singh what they the members have
been mandated to do under the oath they have taken.
Following her October 7 response, the Chief Magistrate received a
letter from the JSC dated November 1 saying her reply had been
considered and that the JSC had decided to institute disciplinary
charges against her. It also advised that Justice Singh had been
deputed to undertake the inquiry into the charges.