Simon de la Bastide: My father wasn’t superhuman

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Former chief justice and former president of the Caribbean Court of Justice Michael de la Bastide. – Photo courtesy CCJ

While Michael de la Bastide has been lauded in all quarters for his role in shaping justice in the Caribbean, his son Simon says he had flaws just like everyone else.

He made these comments at a joint special sitting of the Court of Appeal and the Caribbean Court of Justice on April 12.

This sitting saw several legal luminaries gather from Trinidad and Tobago and across the Caribbean to pay tribute to de la Bastide, a former chief justice and former president of the Caribbean Court of Justice.

Many eulogised him as a legend for his boldness and intellectual might.

But his elder son remembered him as a mere mortal, who despite his flaws achieved great things that could inspire all who seek to follow his path.

Simon said, “It is important that we do not lose sight of the fact that the late chief justice was human in every way and not some sort of superman or phenomenon with whom few could identify.

“While he had an exceptional intellect and great determination, he did, like the rest of us, have flaws, experienced fears, anxieties and periods of self-doubt in his professional career.”

He said during the period 1998-2001 (during his tenure as Chief Justice) his father was tasked with defending the independence of the judiciary, in the “finest hour” of his professional career. Simon said during this time the executive tried to make the judiciary a department in the Ministry of the Attorney General. He described this period as incredibly stressful for his father and one when de la Bastide doubted whether he should be the one to spearhead this fight.

Simon said in referring to the human qualities of his father, his intention was not to undermine his achievements but to disclose that his father confronted the same human flaws, fears and self-doubt all men face.

“Even in his public and professional life he was a mortal like the rest of us,” he added. “Through his intellect, principles, determination and the support of others he was able to achieve great success and make an invaluable contribution to the nation.”

Simon warned against remembering his father as superhuman.

“The danger in that message we send is that his path in achieving success is not for mere mortals. That would be an entirely false message, one that would serve to undermine the contribution which he can make to inspire attorneys and judges to follow his example.”

At the sitting, many thanked his family for the sacrifices they made while supporting de la Bastide throughout his career.