Thursday, March 21, 2013

Letter: Pay judges $300,000 a month

I've read, in today's (Thursday) Guardian, the Geisha Kowlessar story highlighting the views of retired Chief Justice Sharma and others concerning better arrangements for these high officials. 

The case was made for judges' pensions to be immediately improved. It cited some receive just a few hundred dollars per month. The comments were practically endorsed by Chief Justice Ivor Archie's disclosure that judges last got a raise in 1985 thereabouts. Clearly, it's an untenable situation!

Past experience informs me judges, when first appointed, are around the age of forty-five. These judges have secure job for twenty years, till they reach sixty-five.

Based on their present monthly remuneration, new judges would earn about $11m during their career on the bench. If the monthly Chauffeur Allowance is not considered, their lifetime earnings would drop to around $10.75m.

Regularly, judges have to decide on matters where the stakes run into tens or scores of millions. In the ongoing Clicodisputes, the stakes exceed a billion. The spirit is willing, but flesh is a weak thing. To deter temptation and bolster the public's confidence in the judiciary, I say judges must be as handsomely rewarded as they are regarded generally.

Typically, judges come from that pool of attorneys who have distinguished themselves in private practice. Some of them may have even attained the coveted title of Senior Counsel, which puts them in an earnings class far above many other professionals. It is an indication of their high level of public spiritedness when such individuals take up the offer to join the bench, knowing full well the severe strain acceptance would place on their personal fortunes.

For those reasons, if the call were mine, no magistrate or judge would be paid less than $100,000 per month and no judge less than $300,000 per month. And that does not include Housing Allowance, Chauffeur Allowance, Travel Allowance and the like.

The question of whether we can afford it is not relevant; what's relevant is whether we can afford to have a grumpy bench.

An immediate income-boosting measure worth considering is to allow magistrates and judges to lecture and givediscourses at learning institutions or local and international conferences for whatever fees they privately negotiate.

As we underscored by lofting the People's Partnership into office (and as the new President, His Excellency Anthony Carmona reminded us), it is time to think outside the box to solve our seeming intractable problems.

Pastor Duncan Whitmore | Manahambre, Princes Town

No comments:

Jai & Sero

Jai & Sero

Our family at home in Toronto 2008

Our family at home in Toronto 2008
Amit, Heather, Fuzz, Aj, Jiv, Shiva, Rampa, Sero, Jai