My Lords Justices of the Supreme Court, Good morning.
My Lords, may I request that the record reflect the presence of the distinguished invited guests already acknowledged in this sitting. May I also thank all our distinguished invited guests for accepting our invitation. I welcome them all.
My Lords, permit me also to request that the record reflect that this is a ceremonial remote sitting organized by the Judiciary of the Turks and Caicos Islands to honour one of its own at a time when remote hearings, are the preferred mode of conducting court hearings as provided under Practice Direction No. 6.
It is for this reason that the submissions in this proceeding are tributes to a life well lived, and this ruling and concurring opinions are eulogies.
My Lords, this is a unanimous ruling delivered by the full Bench of the Supreme Court in respect of an application by various members of the legal fraternity of The Turks and Caicos Islands to place the name of the late Honourable Mr. Justice Paul Harrison, OJ CD JP, Justice of the Supreme Court of the Turks and Caicos Islands, in the annals of the Judiciary of Turks and Caicos Islands, as a Judge who served this country with distinction.
My Lords, in a normal proceeding, the evidence would doubtless have been presented by way of affidavits. In this matter, however, the evidence must be gleaned from the official records of this country, as well as the overwhelming opinions of the legal fraternity and the general public, on the character, purpose and output of our late esteemed colleague.
My Lords, the late Mr. Justice Paul Harrison was appointed to the Supreme Court Bench on 21 June 2012 for the period 10 July 2012 to 30 June 2014. A few days after his appointment was announced and before he was sworn, he was assigned the criminal trials arising out of Sir Robin Auld’s Commission of Inquiry, now known as Regina v. Michael Misick and Ors. This appointment was extended on 19th December 2013 to 1 July 2014, and so it continued to be extended until the further term was unfortunately truncated by his death on 7th of February 2021.
In the years he presided over the assigned case, the late Mr. Justice Paul Harrison produced a great number of rulings in which he expounded on many areas of the law, some hitherto obscure. His ruling to conduct a Judge-Alone Trial was upheld by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in Misick and others v. The Queen (Turks and Caicos) 2015. He was appointed an ad hoc judge in a case of high importance because of his reputation as a firm, fair and learned judge who had contributed immensely to the jurisprudence of Jamaica where he sat for many years as a Puisne Judge, and then as a member of its Court of Appeal from which he retired as its President.
The late Mr. Justice Harrison was a Judge with a proven track record of hard work produced in integrity. His was a life of service, by no means ostentatious, but no less impactful, a man of distinction who, never lost sight of his humanity. His life’s work was testament to his grit and mettle, and his achievements speak for themselves.
The late Mr. Justice Harrison was an eminent jurist who did not need to prove his merit in the Judiciary of the Turks and Caicos Islands, and did not seek to do so; his only purpose as he sat over his assigned case year after year, was to ensure that justice was done. This is evidenced by the various rulings he delivered in which he considered a whole range of pertinent issues regarding the constitutionally-guaranteed right to a fair hearing.
In their erudite but empathetic submissions, Prosecutors and Defense Counsel before us have been persuasive, regarding the sterling contribution of our departed colleague to this Bench. It is noteworthy that both sides express the same view, and we are at pains to find any areas of contention or disagreement. Their submissions are reinforced by the Deputy Attorney General, the Judicial Service Commission, the Doyen of the Bar, and the Registrar of the Supreme Court.
My Lords permit me this unusual indulgence to add to the many submissions, my own sentiments. Permit me also to wax poetic in my sorrow, by declaring with the famous psalmist, “How are the mighty Fallen”, as I speak of an acclaimed judicial icon.
My acquaintance with Mr. Justice Paul Harrison was short indeed and made over electronic media, the only mode possible in the COVID-19 pandemic. I will say, that every time we spoke, I left with the feeling as of a warm, refreshing breeze on my cheek. I found him assured and very much in control of the conduct of the case before him, yet humble and always ready to provide answers without being combative. My Lords, there is so much more to say, and not enough words to describe the quintessence of patience, purpose, integrity, and discipline, that he represented. I can only give the sum of the matter: that the late Mr. Justice Paul Harrison was tall in his professional achievements, and as tall in his humanity. There is no surprise that he is as tall in death, as he was in life.
We conclude this ruling by stating that from the submissions of Attorneys, both Prosecutors and Defence Teams, the Deputy Attorney General, the Judicial Service Commission represented by The Hon. Ms Justice Hilary Phillips of the Court of Appeal of Jamaica, the Doyen of the TCI Bar Mr. Ariel Misick QC, and the Registrar of the Supreme Court, this court could do no less than to hold, that this legal and judicial giant, at once firm but fair in his dealings with his fellow man on both personal and professional levels, deserves his place of recognition and honour.
Let the record of this day’s proceeding therefore read that having heard all the submissions, all in favour of, and none against the application of the entire legal fraternity of the Turks and Caicos Islands, we grant to The Hon. Mr. Justice Paul Harrison OJ CD JP (deceased), a name in the annals of the Judiciary of Turks and Caicos Islands, as a judge worthy of the name in excellence, integrity, fairness, and dignity.
My Lords, when men of substance depart this life, they leave lessons for us all. As the esteemed poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow put it:
“Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time…”
While our acquaintance with our late colleague was limited, we have heard from those who knew him a little more. To them, and through them to us, our departed colleague left these lessons: to live purposefully, to judge with integrity, to strive for right with boldness, and to live as accountable stewards.
May our departed colleague Rest in Perfect Peace.
We now extend our condolences to Mrs. Doreen Harrison the widow, as well as the children of our departed colleague: Mr Dirk Harrison and Mrs Paulette Harrison-Allen. We also extend our sympathy to his extended family, and to the Judiciary of Jamaica, for their loss.
My Lords, Mr. Justice Aziz, and Mrs. Justice Lobban–Jackson, may we now hear your concurring views please.
My Lords, having discharged our painful duty, we should be rising to signal the end of the sitting, but the unusual occasion of a ceremonial sitting compels us to remain on the Bench for the rest of the proceeding.
May I respectfully ask that every person present here rise and remain standing to observe a minute’s silence in memory of our departed colleague.
Respectfully, you may resume your seats, please. I now invite Father Adderley, to give us his sermon.