Lady joins me this morning in welcoming each one of you to King’s House for this Swearing-in Ceremony.
Our gathering this morning is my first official order of business for the year 2016 and it is indeed a pleasure to Swear- In Mr. Justice Dennis Morrison, QC, as President of the Court of Appeal.
This event has engendered a wide consensus, not only due to the fact that Mr. Justice Morrison has been acting in the position since August but also because of his proven qualities.
As the legal fraternity and the wider Jamaican society prepare to welcome him, I first use this occasion to pay my respects to and acknowledge the contribution of his predecessor Honourable Mr. Justice Panton, whose retirement brings the curtain down, on a brilliant legal career as President of the Court of Appeal and a life of service primarily in the public sector.
I commend the Honourable Mr. Panton for an innings well played; I wish him and his family all the best for the future.
The vacuum created by Mr. Panton’s departure is however being filled by Justice Morrison who will within minutes ascend to one of the highest, most respected offices in our jurisprudence in Jamaica – President of the Court of Appeal.
You are elevated to a rank akin to the Chief Justice with the Proviso that she serves as the head of the Judiciary and consequently first among equals.
You Sir will stand on the shoulders of your illustrious predecessors to continue the fine tradition of reasoned judgments emanating from the court.
I am quite aware of the level of judicial independence accorded to each judge in your court but you are eminently qualified to coalesce into, where necessary some form of consensus the decisions to be handed down.
We have the confidence in you, since you are eminently qualified by virtue of experience, exposure and erudition.
To the last of the alliterated “E’s” I will only say that you may, be one of the few if not the only Rhodes Scholar to be elevated to this position.
“To whom much is given, much is expected!”
If the way you function on the Rhode Scholarship Selection Committee is anything to go by, and your nuanced contribution there, then I can safely say to this audience, “that the Court of Appeal will be guided by safe hands.”
In July 1975, just before my wife and I came ‘back from the moon’ we joined a group of hikers to Catherine Peak; one of the ranges of the Blue Mountain. When we got there we noticed that there were markings and etchings all over trees, stumps and monuments.
We dutifully, as conquerors of Catherine Peak etched on a tree “Patrick and Patricia wuz here.”
I hope after 40 years it’s still there.
Although Justice, you would have seen, studied and admired the work of your predecessors, you are standing alone in the limelight now, starting January 4, 2016 – D. V. to make your mark on that dash, and that will be largely defined by your qualities, character and scholarship.
The wonderful thing about that, is that you have a supporting team of very sharp judges who are not just ‘reflectors of others thoughts’ but are original, passionate thinkers who will make your journey a rich and rewarding one.
For your achievement, today I will also confer on you Jamaica’s 5th highest honour – the Order of Jamaica in accordance with your elevation.
I will now read the instrument of Appointment, please stand – Justice Morrison.