Editorial

Mr Carl Rattray, integrity personified

Sunday, March 18, 2012    

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The Hon Mr Carl Rattray OJ, QC, LLD (Hon), who died after a long struggle with ill health was dedicated to the pursuit of justice in all its aspects in all that he did in his distinguished career as lawyer, judge, parliamentarian and citizen.

Born in St Elizabeth on September 18, 1929, he was educated at Beckford and Smith's High School (now St Jago), Lincoln's Inn School of Law and the Inns of Court, London. He was employed in the Colonial Office, London, in the West Indies Welfare Division 1955-56 and was called to the Bar in Jamaica in 1958. He was appointed Queen's Counsel in 1969.

Along with Mr P J Patterson and the late Mr Alfred Rattray, he was a founding partner in the law firm Rattray, Patterson, Rattray. He was elevated from private practice to president of the Court of Appeal where he served from 1993 until his retirement from the Bench in 1999.

We remember well that Mr Rattray's appointment was questioned by many on the Bench who felt that persons who had been in elective politics should not be so called. However, his tenure vindicated the confidence vested in him as his performance was free of any trace of political bias. Indeed, he scrupulously recused himself from any case in which a judgement could suggest conflict of interest because of political bias.

The upshot was that his integrity and manifest commitment to the highest standards of justice elicited the respect of even his most reluctant colleagues.

Serving as a judge of the highest court would lead those who did not know him personally to assume that the well-known saying "as serious as a judge" was true of Mr Carl Rattray. In reality, however, he was a most happy and congenial man, with a readily apparent laughter that bespoke a keen sense of humour. Indeed, he had an ease and exuded warmth that enabled him to be well liked by all who met him.

Mr Rattray pursued justice beyond the realms of the legal profession, as is evident in his extension to the cause of social justice. He found the avenue to social justice in his membership in the People's National Party. He was a member of the Senate where he was the leader of Government Business from 1975 to 1980, during which time he was also the minister of justice and attorney general (1976-1980).

He was elected Member of Parliament for South East St Catherine from 1989 to 1993 and was again appointed attorney general and minister of justice from 1989 to 1992 and attorney general and minister of legal affairs from 1992 to 1993.

Justice preoccupied Mr Carl Rattray as a private citizen. It was in this capacity that he was a founding member and later chairman of the Jamaica Council for Human Rights.

His efforts to achieve prisoner rehabiliation, on the ground that incarcerated men should return to society as useful citizens, are legendary. It is therefore no surprise that the Staff College for Correctional Officers was named in his honour.

The nation has lost a patriot who dedicated himself to the service of justice. Jamaica needs more people like Mr Rattray. He was a beloved husband and father and a man who wrote poetry published as Poems of Our Times.

We extend our condolence to his wife, Audrey, and four children on behalf of a grateful nation.

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