Hon. Justice Patrick Brooks was sworn in as President of the Court of Appeal yesterday (December 7), by Governor General, His Excellency the Most. Hon. Sir Patrick Allen, at King’s House.
Justice Brooks was also invested with the Order of Jamaica at a swearing-in and investiture ceremony, held at King’s House.
In his address, the Governor General said Justice Brooks is hailed by his colleagues as possessing immense talent.
“Justice Brooks, you are being sworn in at a very challenging time in Jamaica’s history, when leadership in all branches of government and all the sectors of society is stretched to provide guidance, support and direction to our people,” he said.
“We are besieged, as we are all aware, by the global COVID-19 pandemic, the nagging spectre and reality of crime and violence, the possible downturn in the economy among other social ills and maladies, the consequences of which you no doubt have to face in the courts. You must contend with these issues, as we do not have the luxury of burying our heads in the sand like the proverbial ostrich that thinks its problems will disappear over time,” he added.
The Governor General acknowledged the contribution of former President of the Court of Appeal, Hon. Justice Dennis Morrison, who retired on December 4.
“We thank you… . We will remember your calm and gracious personality and the professionalism and dignity you displayed as you led the Court of Appeal as its President. I wish for you and your family the very best of what the future holds, including some rest,” he said.
For his part, Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, said access to justice in a timely manner is fundamental for a well-functioning society.
He noted that a fair and efficient justice system is also a critical element of any country’s plan for the prosperity of its people.
“The Strategic Plan for the Jamaican Judiciary 2019-2023 expresses the vision of being the best in the Caribbean in three years, and the best globally in six years. A number of measures have been put in place in recent times, which are designed to foster a responsive and performance oriented culture in the judicial system. The Strategic Plan… underscores that the judiciary is acutely conscious of the weight of expectations as they seek to deliver affordable, efficient and timely justice that optimises the use of financial and material resources that have been set aside for our courts,” Mr. Holness said.
He noted that an effective court is responsive to social and economic developmental realities and rule of-law imperatives.
“I believe all branches, legislative and judicial, share the view that the justice system can be a powerful tool for national development, not only in economic terms but most certainly in respect of law and order. Judgements of the courts send powerful signals to actors in our society and economy, signals that can reinforce, modify, deter or encourage a particular behaviour,” Prime Minister Holness said.
He pointed out that the courts and the Court of Appeal, in particular, have a responsibility to society that goes beyond clinical adjudication, adding that they play a fundamental role in establishing and maintaining social order and peace.
“We welcome the Hon. Justice Brooks as the new President of the Court of Appeal. He will preside over a court which has in recent years benefited from new and improved facilities and now has almost its full complement of justices,” Mr. Holness said.
“We expect continued high standards from the President and offer him our highest congratulations as he embarks on leadership of the Court of Appeal,” he added.
Meanwhile, Leader of the Opposition, Mark Golding, said Justice Brooks is known to be a person of integrity.
“Your judicial acumen as a jurist is acknowledged by all and we look forward to your tenure as President of the Court of Appeal,” Mr. Golding said.
In his response, Justice Brooks said while the task sounds daunting, “I am comforted by the fact that the court is strong. It is blessed with a cadre of energetic, efficient and relatively young judges who are passionate about their quality of service to the nation and of justice”.
Others giving remarks at the ceremony were Chief Justice, Hon. Justice Bryan Sykes, and Hon. Justice Morrison.