New judicial appointments to resolve shortage of judges and backlog of cases
By Stacy Carmichael-James
President David Granger has acknowledged that there is a shortage of judges at the Court of Appeal, hence his administration in moving swiftly with the acting Chancellor and Chief Justice to have the Judicial Service Commission meet to make recommendations and fill the vacancies as soon as possible.
“I am very confident that the new Chancellor is aware of the shortages and…as quickly as the JSC could meet I intend to move ahead. I have no interest in perpetuating a situation where there are insufficient judges, the backlog is being built up and the swearing-in of the Chancellor and the Chief Justice is a step in the right direction,” said Granger.
The Head of State denied Opposition claims that he refused to appoint judges, noting that he withheld approval and has sent the names submitted to the present Chancellor, who would look at them and resubmit a list to him and when that is received he would make his decision.
In response to members of the media the Chancellor of the Judiciary, Yonette Cummings-Edwards disclosed that a meeting of the Judicial Service Commission would be convened as soon as possible to address the shortage of judges in the Court of Appeal. The requirement is to have five judges at the Appeal Court; however, currently there are only two judges.
Justice Cummings-Edwards said it takes three judges to hear appeal matters, while chamber applications could be heard by a single judge.
Meantime, acting Chief Justice Roxanne George noted that it is an honour to serve the country and pledged to make a difference in the administration of justice. She acknowledged too that there are many challenges, but these, Justice George said are meant to be overcome, “I would be supporting Chancellor Cummings- Edwards, she has out in place a number of projects and programmes over the last year and I will try my best to strive to rise to the challenge of the momentum that she has built over the last year and a quarter.”
She looks forward to the support of her colleagues in addressing these challenges ” judicial officers because of course there not only Judges of the High Court, we have our Commissioners of Counsel, we have our magistrates and the registrars also are judicial officers (although many people don’t know that)…so there’s lots of work to be done but we will make the best of it, I will make the best of it.”
Over the next few months, there are lots to be done Justice George informed, making reference to the Jurist Project that deals with addressing the backlog of cases and ensuring that the Civil Procedure rules are enacted. She noted too that they are moving in the direction of being more open to the public.
This Justice George said is to ensure that the public understands the judiciary and administration of justice system, “I think that’s a bit lacking in Guyana, so that is something we plan to do over the next few months.
As it relates to the Family Court Justice George said two judges have been assigned and matters have been coming forward speedily and will be dealt with much more alacrity.
During the swearing-in ceremony, the Head of State noted that these appointments are crucial to ensuring that the Constitution of Guyana is upheld and Justice is delivered in a timely manner.
President Granger urged the acting Chancellor and Chief Justice to uphold the high standards and traditions of the offices in accordance with the oath they have taken. He also called on the members of the legislative, executive and judicial arms of the Government to respect the Constitution.