Five judges were yesterday (Jan. 6) sworn into higher offices within the judiciary, during a ceremony held at King’s House.
His Honour Martin Gayle, Her Honour Marva McDonald Bishop and His Honour Bertram Morrison, were sworn in as Puisne Judges in the Supreme Court while Her Honour Sarah Thompson James, and His Honour Frank Williams, were appointed to act as Puisne Judges. The appointments take effect today (Jan.7).
Governor-General, His Excellency, the Most Hon. Professor Sir Kenneth Hall, in presenting the instruments of appointment, stated that the judges have distinguished themselves in their profession. “Their selection and promotion to the position of Puisne Judge is an indication that Jamaica still produces professionals of high calibre, who can manage our judicial affairs,” Sir Kenneth Hall said.
He congratulated the judges on their appointment and encouraged them to “continue to serve this country with distinction, as you seek to maintain the highest standards of excellence for which our justice system is renowned.”
Chief Justice Zaila McCalla, in her remarks, stated that high standards are expected from the new appointees as they carry out their duties.
“As we go about our daily lives, it is expected that we will remember always, the position that we hold. Judges are open to increasing scrutiny even in our private lives and we have to be mindful of that. The people look to us to uphold the rule of law in our country,” she pointed out.
She noted further that “awesome responsibilities are being placed in our hands. We are required to be firm and resolute in our actions at times, but also mindful that we have to demonstrate humility and compassion when required.”
In the meantime, she informed that legislation, recently passed, has allowed for increases in the number of judges at all levels of the judicial system and steps will be taken to make additional appointments. “But it is a process which takes time. We have to have applications; the necessary consultations must be made and interviews conducted,” she pointed out.
On another matter, Justice McCalla said there is need for a new Supreme Court “as we have outgrown the space at the Supreme Court and we are urgently in need of space to accommodate judges, documents and support staff.”
“We have seen meaningful changes in recent times and we are optimistic that with the recently established Court Implementation Committee, the year 2009 will see the long overdue expansion of the Supreme Court, hopefully to premises right across the street from where the court is housed,” she expressed.
Meanwhile, Justice Martin Gayle, in his response on behalf of the appointees, said that every Jamaican, regardless of colour or class, must be given the fairest treatment before the courts. “We know the people of Jamaica have placed much confidence and trust in the judiciary. It is important that the judiciary settle disputes expeditiously and with easy accessibility. The citizens of this country are within their rights to seek speedy disposals of their pending cases in different courts at different levels,” he stated.
He added the time has come for the courts to respond to the Jamaican people by “adopting a creative and activist approach and new techniques for the quick dispensation of justice, so as to convey confidence in the judicial system.”