AG: State was not party to $20 million lawsuit

The content originally appeared on: News Americas Now

Black Immigrant Daily News

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Attorney General Reginald Armour, SC. FILE PHOTO –

THE OFFICE of the Attorney General on Friday clarified a judgement handed down on Monday which said the State made an appearance in the malicious damage case brought by nine former murder accused and failed to defend against it.

Paragraph three of the judgement handed down by Master Martha Alexander said: “Interestingly, the defendant, having entered an appearance, failed to defend the matter. On their claim for malicious prosecution, therefore, the Honourable Madam Justice Joan Charles granted permission to the claimants, on January 8, 2021, to enter judgement against the defendant for its failure to file a defence.”

In a media release on Friday, the AG’s Office said having reviewed the judgement, it observed an error in paragraph three. The release said the Registrar confirmed that no appearances were entered for the State.

“The public is accordingly notified of this correction of the judicial record. AG Armour, SC, assures the public of his continued commitment to ensuring conscientious management of this matter.”

Newsday obtained a copy of a letter from the Registrar which stated that while the State was not party to the initial lawsuit, leading to it losing by default, it was informed that an application was filed and served on August 5, 2020, that payments should be made on the grounds that the State failed to appear and present a defence. The lawsuit was filed in May 2020.

In February 2021, Justice Joan Charles ruled that the State lost by default and sent the matter to Alexander for assessment.

On Monday, Alexander ordered that each of the nine men be awarded $2.1 million as well as the legal costs be paid and the expert witness who testified on the mental anguish the men faced.

On Friday, retired Appeal Court judge Stanley John was appointed as the investigator into why the State failed to defend against the lawsuit and how a case file on the matter went missing.

The missing file Armour said at a media conference on Wednesday, was given to the Solicitor General’s office, a subdivision of the AG’s office and went missing a day after.

Armour also hired retired judge of the Caribbean Court of Justice Rolston Nelson, SC, to advise him on appealing the decision by Alexander, setting aside paying off the men and advising the investigator.