Eminent and veteran attorney-at-law Kenneth Lalla died yesterday morning.
Lalla, a senior counsel who served as chairman of both the Police Service Commission and Public Service Commission, passed away at his home yesterday morning. He was 93.
In a brief interview with Guardian Media yesterday, Lalla’s son Om, who now leads the law chambers founded by his father, KR Lalla & Company, explained that his family was saddened but not shocked by the news.
“At 93, he had a good innings and he had reached a point where he wanted to go,” Om Lalla said, as he noted that his father died peacefully with his mother at his side.
“We are caught between the emotions as children and happy for him to finally go on with his journey.”
Born in Dow Village, California, in 1926, Lalla was the son of an indentured labourer. Lalla started as a child labourer and was forced to postpone his studies due to his family’s financial circumstances.
However, he was eventually able to complete his studies, worked as a teacher for several years and saved so that he could pursue studies in law. Lalla migrated to the United Kingdom and was called to the bar there in 1959 and to the local bar soon after he returned to T&T.
Lalla was elected as Couva MP in 1962 and served on numerous national committees during his illustrious career. He also tutored at the Hugh Wooding Law School.
In 1998, he was awarded the Chaconia Medal (Gold).
Contacted yesterday, several veteran attorneys heaped praises on Lalla, who some described as a formidable legal opponent and an expert in constitutional law.
“He served this country well…He was a self-taught, as he never really went to high school,” Senior Counsel Israel Khan said.
Former Police Service Commission (PSC) chairman Professor Ramesh Deosaran noted that Lalla was a long-time friend.
Deosaran explained that he first met Lalla when he returned from the United Kingdom and he (Deosaran) was serving as a youth leader in the San Juan/Barataria area.
“He was a regular speaker at our meetings on issues like the death penalty, social justice and improvements to the legal profession,” Deosaran said, as he described Lalla as enthusiastic and civic-minded.
Deosaran said their friendship continued over several decades and even after he (Deosaran) returned from a stint abroad.
“I would always ask him for advice and he would offer suggestions when I was an independent senator and when I was the PSC chairman,” he said.
Deosaran explained that his most recent involvement in such activity was when he (Lalla) agreed to appear before a T&T Police Service (TTPS) manpower audit committee headed by himself (Deosaran).
“He appeared before the committee in his usual graceful, helpful, and forthright manner,” Deosaran said, as he noted that he and his fellow committee members accepted and adopted Lalla’s suggestions.
Lalla’s funeral will take place at the Waterloo Cremation Site on Sunday at 10 am.