In the last two days, the country has been overloaded with information that points to one undeniable fact – Reginald Armour is compromised beyond redemption and unfit to hold office as Attorney General.
And whilst he issues a series of press releases about his attempts to purchase validation and buy time until the public forgets about his many failures, his reputation has been tarnished beyond salvation.
Last year Armour was disqualified by His Honour Judge Reemberto Diaz from appearing on behalf of the State in a matter connected to one of the biggest corruption cases in the history of this country. Armour brought the US court and justice system and the Office of the AG into disrepute when he unethically participated in a matter on behalf of the State despite the fact that he had a conflict of interest which he failed to disclose to the Court.
When faced with the accusation by his former clients, Armour gave sworn evidence to the Miami Court that he was a junior attorney and just a note taker. He deliberately misled the court about his role and his former clients exposed his lies and act of criminal perjury by producing transcripts of the hearings in Port of Spain, showing his active participation in the case including cross-examination of witnesses and making submissions. It is impossible that he could have forgotten his role in one of, if not the most important case in his legal career. How could he possibly forget such a lucrative brief from those accused of corruption? Did that file also disappear?
Knowing that he had committed perjury by giving false testimony to the Court, Armour did not attempt to correct his evidence, did not appear in the matter to explain the inaccuracy, or even ask the Court to withdraw his false evidence. Instead, his sidekick Faris Al-Rawi appeared and had Attorneys argue against his disqualification on the basis that the Florida Rules of Ethical Conduct don’t apply to him! Imagine an Attorney General saying he is not bound by ethics when appearing in Court to represent Trinidad and Tobago!
Al-Rawi hardly ever wins cases and this was no exception – they lost that matter and when his unethical and illegal act of perjury was exposed, he proffered lame excuses and declared that he would appeal the decision, giving his cohorts an avenue to placate the public.
The taxpayer was forced to further fund that legal misadventure, which has now been determined by the Miami Third District Court of Appeal. Three Florida judges upheld the ruling that Armour ought to be disqualified.
Worse yet, we have lost untold millions that we have paid to Sequor Law firm as Armour’s misconduct infected the entire proceedings and hence the court also disqualified the entire firm.
This is an indictment of the highest order against Armour who has brought international shame and disgrace to the country and the legal profession. He has lost all respect and credibility and should not simply resign as AG but be stripped of his status as Senior Counsel. He has brought the inner bar into grave disrepute.
Having collected his million-dollar brief to represent those accused of corruption, he suddenly sought to distance himself from them and in so doing, he not only breached the confidence of his former clients but attempted to deceptively mislead a foreign court where he was appearing as a representative of the people of this country, pretending that he could not remember that he represented defendants in the Piarco corruption case.
Given the ignominy he has brought to the Office of the Attorney General, the second highest office in Government, it is beyond comprehension how he can continue to hold that office. How can a man deemed unfit and disqualified from acting for T&T before a Court continue to be the Chief Legal Officer with constitutional responsibility for the legal affairs of the State!?!
And speaking of constitutional responsibility, the feeble and vacuous explanation put forward by Armour for the State’s failure to defend the claim by 9 former accused demonstrates that he is also incapable of executing his responsibilities as the head of a Ministry.
The AG’s job is the running of the Ministry. Civil litigation for or against the State is brought in the name of the AG; the Constitution, the highest law of the land, entrusts this responsibility to him to defend the interests of the State.
He is the people’s lawyer, with ultimate responsibility for every case which involves a claim against the State. To assist him, there are many lawyers hired by the State. They are all answerable to him. He is the one with the power to lay down procedures, to ask for updates, to assess the work being done and to ensure all reporting lines are functioning as they should.
Has he been asleep on the job like Hinds? Has he not been asking for regular reports on the State’s exposure and liability as it pertains to million dollar lawsuits?
Instead of accepting that there was a colossal blunder at his office, he proffers preposterous excuses which hold not an ounce of weight when one looks at the judgement of Master Alexander.
The judgement makes it clear that:
Attorneys for the State entered an appearance in the matter but then failed to file a defence in the stipulated time;
Attorneys were then made aware that an application was made for default judgment and received the Court’s Order granting default judgement;
That default judgement having been granted, the State was made aware of and participated in the trial to determine the amount of damages, including making recommendations on an appropriate sum, but without filing evidence.
Yet, in that face of all these facts, Reginald Armour chooses to create a “made for TV style drama” involving a “missing file”. This further demonstrates the AG’s propensity for being economical with the truth and the level of comfort he feels in misleading the population.
The person who lead the State’s team in that matter is now a High Court judge, and Armour is suggesting that this individual attended Court and made representation on behalf of the State without a file! He has now stooped so low in his attempt to deflect from his incompetence that he is scandalising the Office of the Solicitor General and members of the Judiciary!
His grand charge about getting advice on an appeal will no doubt meet the same fate as his Miami appeal, with the end result being simply that millions will go to the pockets of those handpicked by him.
He can prevaricate as much as he wants in an attempt to mask his ineptitude as an Attorney General, but at the end of the day no redemption can be purchased for someone who has failed to discharge such an important duty to the people of Trinidad and Tobago.
If Keith Rowley has any dignity left, or an ounce of respect for the people of this country, he would ask for Armour’s letter of resignation to be on his desk by close of business so that whatever little is left of the reputation of the AG’s office can be salvaged.
However, his track record of weak, ineffective leadership in the light of the many scandals which have plagued the Office of the Attorney General under his watch makes this unlikely and we instead expect the infamous “raging bull” which PM Manning warned us about to emerge and be in full flight in defence of his entire band of incompetent misfits.
Senator Jayanti R Lutchmedial