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Timothy Jonas moves to Court to quash four Senior Counsel appointments

Attorney -at- law and Chairman of A New and United Guyana (ANUG) Timothy Jonas has moved to the High Court to challenge President David Granger’s appointment of four Senior Counsel.

Attorney-at- law, Timothy Jonas

According to court documents seen by this newspaper, the executive member of ANUG filed an action in court this week, seeking an
Order of Certiorari to be directed to the Attorney General to quash the decision by the President to appoint Attorneys-at-Law, Jameela Alli, Roysdale Forde, Mursalene Bacchus and Stanley Moore as Senior Counsel (S.C). Jonas is contending that the President, in making the appointments, acted ultra vires or outside the realm of his functions.
In the grounds of his application, the lawyer stressed that the status of SC is fundamentally important to legal practitioners. According to Jonas, the appointment of Senior Counsel by the judiciary and the Bar at large lies within the inherent discretion of the High Court of the Supreme Court of Judicature.The attorney explained that there is no statutory or other power conferred on the President of Guyana whether as President or otherwise, to make any such decision to appoint attorneys-at-law to the dignity of Senior Counsel.

Senior Counsel, Jameela Alli

Senior Counsel, Mursalene Bacchus

As such, he called the decision by the President to be deemed entirely void and of no effect. Jonas stated further that, as the President and a member of the Executive, Granger’s decision to appoint Senior Counsel trespasses into the realm of the judiciary and violates Article 122 of the Constitution of Guyana.
The lawyer noted too the power and discretion to admit persons to practice at the Bar of Guyana, to preside over such persons, to discipline, suspend and disbar such persons is conferred by the provisions of the Legal Practitioners Act and common law on the High Court the Supreme Court of Judicature of Guyana.

Senior Counsel Roysdale Forde

Senior Counsel Stanley Moore

According to him, it is the Full Bench of the High Court that has, from time to time in an exercise of its discretion, confers on attorneys-at-law who have practiced with distinction before the Court the dignity of β€˜SC β€˜.
Further, in an affidavit in support of his court action, Jonas explained that the dignity of SC, or its equivalent counterpart β€˜Queen’s Counsel,’ (QC) is one which is recognized throughout the Commonwealth as being conferred on practicing attorneys-at-law who have sufficiently earned the respect of the Court by the quality of their practice and personal integrity to warrant the honour, and the conferral of such status.

He said too that beyond the legal fraternity, in the public domain, the dignity implies to the public the certification by the judiciary of the professional acumen and personal integrity of the practitioner, so that a significant market advantage is enjoyed by Senior Counsel in the conduct of his/her practice by the public perception of the judicially acknowledged professional standard of his/her legal service.
According to the document in support, Jonas was prompted to take legal action after he observed a Counsel appearing in the litigation with him in June of this year, whom he believed to be junior, describing himself as β€˜Senior Counsel.’
Consequently, Jonas said that he investigated, and discovered that on or around 31 December, 2019, the President had communicated to the public via the Ministry of the Presidency his purported decision to confer the four lawyers with the prestigious title.
It is this move that Jonas emphasized that was outside the statutory or other power conferred on the President.
The matter is expected to come up for hearing at 10:00 am on September 8, 2020 before Chief Justice Roxane George-Wiltshire, S.C.

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