Gov­ern­ment’s move to shift the re­tire­ment age for judges from 65 to 70 years has raised an Op­po­si­tion query about judges’ men­tal fac­ul­ties at that age.

The con­cern was raised by UNC MP Vidya Guyadeen-Gopeesingh in Par­lia­ment on Wednes­day af­ter At­tor­ney Gen­er­al Faris Al- Rawi pi­lot­ed a bill to in­crease judges’ re­tire­ment age to 70.

Guyadeen-Gopeesingh said while the UNC had no prob­lem with this, one had to un­der­stand judges’ men­tal ca­pac­i­ty and look at their phys­i­o­log­i­cal state al­so. “Things we can do at age 40, we can’t do at 70,” she said, adding T&T needs younger judges who are “bright and ar­tic­u­late.”

Al-Rawi, who said the bill sought to ad­dress ju­di­cial re­sources, added that crime was a very large—if not the largest- is­sue in T&T and had been for decades.

He said af­ter T&T judges re­tired at 65, many worked in oth­er Caribbean coun­tries. He said UNC MP Gan­ga Singh was the on­ly one “who showed courage “ and broke UNC ranks to sup­port Gov­ern­ment’s re­cent move to in­crease ju­di­cial pen­sions.

Al- Rawi al­so not­ed Gov­ern­ment would be mov­ing civ­il courts from the Hall of Jus­tice to the Wa­ter­front Com­plex with­in weeks, and oth­er courts would be opened al­so.

He al­so said in­creas­ing the re­tire­ment age in the De­fence Force was un­der con­sid­er­a­tion.

But on ex­tend­ing judges’ re­tire­ment age to 70, Guyadeen-Gopeesingh— an at­tor­ney— ex­pressed con­cern about peo­ple be­ing un­able to hear or see.

She cit­ed Pres­by­cu­sis—loss of hear­ing that grad­u­al­ly oc­curs in most in­di­vid­u­als as they age. She said the re­tire­ment age ex­ten­sion to 70 may re­quire hav­ing judges as­sessed by a group of doc­tors. Not­ing the some tri­als are done by judge alone, she said these may a chal­lenge for lit­i­gant and judge if the lat­ter’s men­tal fac­ul­ties are in ques­tion.

Guyadeen-Gopeesingh asked if the AG had asked judges if they want to work for five more years to 70 “and for­go fam­i­ly time.”

She said many judges are frus­trat­ed at is­sues in the sys­tem and in some cas­es hav­ing to buy pa­per for their of­fice out of their own funds.

She asked about the im­pact of a new re­tire­ment age on judges seek­ing up­ward mo­bil­i­ty in the sys­tem.

She al­so ques­tioned how Gov­ern­ment could place courts at the Wa­ter­front where she said “columns are all zig zag” as op­posed to the Hall of Jus­tice which has a cen­tral col­umn.

Guyadeen- Gopeesingh said a wit­ness she was re­cent­ly ques­tion­ing in court told her it had too “too many pos-es (posts)” in the room.”

Reporter: Gail Alexander