Judicial Education in Trinidad and Tobago, in the modern sense, had its beginnings on 31st May 1995 when Chief Justice Michael Anthony de la Bastide T.C. O.C. Q.C. took office.
“I am anxious to see established in Trinidad and Tobago a Judicial Training Institute… What I have in mind is an institute that will provide training not only for judges but also for magistrates and court staff.”
Opening of the Law Term, 1998
In 1996, the year after he assumed office, de la Bastide hosted the first dedicated two-day Continuing Education Seminar (CES) for judges of the Supreme Court.
It was organised under the aegis of the late Justice Telford Georges.
This Judicial Retreat brought together all judges together in one place for two days for the purpose of continuing judicial education, focusing on four key areas. .
This practice continued every year thereafter, soon becoming an annual residential event.
"The establishment and maintenance of an on-going programme of judicial education which includes Magistrates as well as Judges is a high priority in the Judiciary’s programme. The nucleus of a judicial education committee has, in fact, been formed and has started functioning."
by Justice M. A. de la Bastide,
Law Term Opening,
Within three years of its conception, the Judicial Education Committee was formally constituted, with an entirely voluntary membership, in September 2000.
The Committee was to be led by a judge of the Supreme Court, with the first chairperson being the late Justice Wendell Kangaloo JA.
The Committee consisted of two Judges and a senior Magistrate, who attending intensive training with the Commonwealth JEI, and the Court Executive Administrator who trained with the National Centre for State Courts in the United States.
Programmes were selected after some analysis of needs, but often with what was readily available and easily accessible in mind. In lieu of dedicated staff assigned to the JEITT, members from the Library, and Information and Protocol units helped in the facilitation of judicial education events.
As an increased amount of programmes, workshops and lectures took place, the call for continuous institutionalised judicial education training intensified.
The Judicial Education Institute was formally established as a pilot project on the 31st July 2002, to operate with a Board of Directors led by the Chief Justice as President and a judge of the Supreme Court as Chairperson.
With the advantage of the appointment of a small but permanent support staff, the work of the Institute began to expand.
One of the JEITT’s areas of expansions during this time was beginning to issue publications, to promote research, provide information, and educate.
The decision to commit itself to fostering research and publications by local judges and judicial officers acted as an extension of its goal to position the Judiciary of Trinidad and Tobago as a regional leader in the creation of a truly Caribbean Jurisprudence.
In 2011, Cabinet gave its approval for the expansion and restructuring of the JEITT.
Cabinet also agreed to make the JEITT a permanent part of the organisational structure of the Judiciary.
The JEITT had demonstrated its capacity to play a vital role in the ongoing transformation, development and sustainability of the Judiciary.
The emergence of the JEITT is an example of initiative, commitment and courage by a small jurisdiction taking the risk in following our belief that this was the right path to follow.
It was a consequence of the vision and will of judicial leadership to simply make continuing judicial education happen.