New President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Seymour Panton, has said that one of his first tasks in taking office will be to increase the number of judges serving the island’s courts.
“The judges of the court are working night and day, everyday – public holidays and weekends including. I cannot ask them to do more and so there will be an increase in the complement of the court,” he vowed shortly after taking the Judicial Oath and the Oath of Allegiance earlier today (July 6) at King’s House.
“This is not a matter on which there will be any debate and I shall be embarking on no debate; I expect good sense to prevail,” he stated.
Justice Panton, who was sworn into office by Governor-General, His Excellency the Most Hon. Professor Kenneth Hall, was also bestowed with the Order of Jamaica, which is the nation’s fourth highest honour.
The former Court of Appeal judge also appealed to all judges to be fair and unbiased in all their decisions. “Do not play to the gallery, do not take on side issues, do not allow media opinion to dictate to you.ensure in whatever you do, you do not succumb to any form of pressure from any source whatsoever. Always bear in mind that an independent judiciary is the cornerstone of our democracy,” he urged.
Professor Hall, in his remarks, noted that Justice Panton’s appointment comes at a time when Jamaicans are demanding more from the justice system.
He noted that Justice Panton’s years of experience as a member of the judiciary has prepared him well to fulfill his new role. “His career has given us the confidence that he has the leadership qualities, the insights, experience, and intellectual preparation to be able to successfully undertake such important responsibilities,” Professor Hall stated.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister, Portia Simpson Miller, congratulated Justice Panton on his appointment and reminded him that the onus is on him to ensure that all Jamaicans experience equity, justice and peace from the legal system.
She expressed confidence that the newly appointed President will carry out his duties efficiently and effectively. “Justice is far too important an issue and too critical to human rights for us to have less than the best in the leadership of the Court of Appeal. Justice Panton’s knowledge of the law, the breadth of his grasp of legal issues and the brilliance of his mind, commend him to this very important position,” Mrs. Simpson Miller stated.
“I feel safe that we have in this critical office, someone of the stature of Justice Panton. A man of fierce devotion to the underlying principles of the rules of law; a man known for his independence of mind and dispassionate approach,” she added.
Justice Panton, a past student of Rusea’s High School in Hanover, has served with distinction in the legal and judicial services of both Jamaica and the Cayman Islands.
The President of the Court of Appeal is appointed by the Governor-General acting on the recommendation of the Prime Minister after consultation with the Leader of the Opposition.
Among those who witnessed the swearing-in ceremony were Leader of the Opposition, Bruce Golding; Former President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Paul Harrison; Chief Justice, Zaila McCalla; other members of the judiciary; family; friends; and well wishers.