A St. George’s Magistrate is challenging the powers of the Integrity in Public Life Act to take disciplinary action against him for not declaring his assets before the commission headed by retired high court judge, Justice Monica Joseph.
Magistrate Jerry Seales has retained former Attorney-General Jimmy Bristol of the law firm of Henry, Henry & Bristol to file a Constitutional motion before the high court against Attorney-General, Cajeton Hood to seek a declaration that the Integrity Act cannot sanction him for failing to disclose his assets.
Under the act which came into force last year under the two year old Keith Mitchell-led New National Party (NNP) administration, public officers including Magistrates were required to declare their assets to the commission within a specific time frame.
However, Magistrate Seales has been identified as one person who did not make a submission of his assets to the Monica Joseph outfit.
He has retained Attorney Bristol to try and move the high court to declare “Sections 28 (4) and (5) of the Integrity in Public Life Act No. 24 of 2013, unconstitutional, null and void as they purport to lay down procedures for disciplinary proceedings for non-compliance”.
Magistrate Seales is contending that “the sole power to lay down disciplinary procedures (against legal officers employed by the State) is vested in the Judicial and Legal Services Commission as provided in Section 19 (2) of the West Indies Associated States Court Order”.
Another suit filed by Bristol on behalf of Seales is seeking a declaration that “the sole power to impose sanctions (against legal officers employed by the State) is vested in the Governor-General, acting in accordance with (the) advice of the Judicial and Legal Services Commission as provided in Section 88 of the Constitution”.
In a brief statement issued on the subject matter, Seales who presides over the Traffic Court in the city noted that it “is very uncommon for a Judicial Officer to have to take steps to preserve the protections of our Constitution”.
“Believe me when I say, if this (court matter) does not reach our wise public and they understand, we are headed to yet darker days (with) regards Democracy and Rule of Law”, he remarked.
Seales was admitted to the Grenada Bar in 1993 and was appointed to the bench for the first time in 2005 to serve as Acting Chief Magistrate.
Attorney-General Hood could not be reached for comment on the Jerry Seales lawsuits filed against him.