Judges Sworn Into Higher Office


Four judges were on (Sept. 21) sworn into the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court, by Governor-General, His Excellency the Most Hon. Professor Kenneth Hall, at a ceremony held at King’s House. The judges are: Mahadev Dukharan and Gloria Smith, who will serve in the Court of Appeal; while Bertram Morrison and Sarah Thompson-James, will serve as puisne judges in the Supreme Court. The appointments take effect on September 24. The Governor-General, in his remarks, said the appointments come at a time when Jamaicans are demanding more from the justice system. He noted further that judges today are required to adjudicate on electoral matters, international disputes and human rights issues.
“Your task in infinitely more difficult than your predecessors but it is even more complex than that because many of the cases now are more complex. They touch on issues which are new. I am sure all of you are waiting for example, the judgment on such matters as electoral matters”.
“The fact is there was a time when electoral matters were settled pretty much on the day of election. Now we find ourselves where the courts may have to make the final decisions about who is elected, not the electors or the voters,” the Governor-General pointed out.
While extending congratulations to the appointees, Professor Hall urged them to be aware of the developments that are taking place in the media, in international law, as well as human rights organisations.
“Your training in law is not enough.. you have to be aware and sensitive to the developments in and around the society. We are in very changing times and all we can do is to appeal to you to keep yourselves abreast of these changes. We know of course from your past experience and your judgments that you are up to the task,” he said.
Chief Justice Zaila McCalla, in her address, congratulated the judges and reminded them of the confidence that the Judicial Service Commission has placed in them by appointing them to their respective positions.
“I entertain no doubt that you are equal to the task and that you will put your shoulder to the wheel. We, as judges, have to be unrelenting in the execution of our role in the administration of justice in our country, as much is expected of us,” she stated.
Mrs. McCalla also took the opportunity to reiterate her call for the complement of judges at the Court of Appeal to be increased. “The complement of judges in that Court has remained unchanged since 1967, despite the fact that the number of resident magistrates and puisne judges has increased,” she pointed out. “The growth of the population, the significant increase in criminal activity and the greater demands being made on our courts, require that the number of Court of Appeal judges be increased because of the increased workload in the court,” she argued. Despite these limitations, the Chief Justice urged the judges to “press on in the service of your country”. Justice Dukharan, in responding on behalf of the appointees, also called on the government to increase the number of judges at the Court of Appeal. He extended congratulations to his colleagues and urged them to continue to work hard to improve the justice system.

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