Court declares PSC's retiring Court Management Services head unlawful

Friday, April 20, 2018

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FORMER head of the now Court Management Services (CMS) Deborah Patrick-Gardner is to remain in the public service after the Full Court yesterday quashed a decision of the Public Service Commission (PSC) to send her on early retirement.

Justices Bertram Morrison, Sarah Thompson-James and Audre' Lindo all ruled that the manner in which the claimant was purportedly retired was unlawful and was contrary to Section 125 (3) of the constitution.

The judges also ruled that the reason given for her retirement was irrational and that Patrick-Gardner “is to remain as a public servant as long as she is willing and able to provide service, or unless she is removed in a lawful manner”.

Patrick-Gardner, who had been serving as the principal executive officer of CMS which is responsible for the administrative arm of the courts, was informed by the PSC via a letter in May 2016 that she was being retired from the public service effective June 1 that year.

Following an amendment to the Judicature (Supreme Court) Act in 2015 it was announced in February that the Court Administration Division would replace the CMS.

Consequently, the public service executive, who had just returned to her job following a three-year study leave, was informed in a letter from the acting chief personnel officer, Jacqueline Mendez, that she was being retired on the grounds of reorganisation in accordance with the Pensions Act.

“I was in total shock when on May 24, 2016 I received a letter from the PSC saying that I had been retired from the public service on grounds of reorganisation,” Patrick-Gardner told the Observer in a previous interview.

In the application filed by her attorney Hugh Wildman, Patrick-Gardner claimed that at no time was she afforded an opportunity to be heard by the Public Service Commission before any decision was made to retire her from the post of principal executive officer of the CMS and from the public service.

Patrick-Gardner, who had obtained an injunction blocking the retirement until her case was heard, was elated when contacted yesterday.

“I give praises to my Lord and saviour, Jesus Christ, that this situation is finally finished; there is resolution. I thank God for justice, and I look forward to return to work and to give my best contribution to the people of Jamaica, which I have always tried to do,” she said.

Patrick-Gardner said she has no clue where she will be placed, or what post she will be given, but her new post must be an equivalent position to what she had before.

In the meantime, Wildman, who was also happy with the outcome, described the ruling as a significant decision that will guide the way in which public sector workers are separated from their jobs.

“It is significant; it highlights the weakness in the management [of] PSC, who in the process have misled [the] governor general... However, this judgement will straighten out the PSC, because a number of persons have been retired in breach of the law and nothing was done because they felt that [they] had no recourse,” he added.




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