Sworn to serve
It was as if Almarie Sinclair Haynes was handing down a ruling on the gravest of judicial matters.
Her crisp, clear and assured voice, belying her slender frame, punctured the pregnant silence of the packed King's House hall.
But then again, Sinclair Haynes has, for many years, been embraced by the long arm of the law in and out of her private sphere.
In the private consign that she calls home, the judge of many years in the public arena is married to Lawrence Haynes, a Guyanese-born attorney who practises in Jamaica.
Sinclair Haynes was the first of five members of the judiciary who yesterday ascended another rung on the judicial ladder, but the only one to the lofty heights of judge of the Court of Appeal.
Four other members of the judiciary who shared the spotlight were sworn in as puisne judges.
They are Kissock Christopher St E. Laing; Chester R. Stamp; Lorna Shelly-Williams and Vinette B. Graham Allen.
Sinclair Haynes' husband, as well as her mother, Yvonne Yates, and two of her daughters, Ashley and Annabelle, were on hand to share in the milestone moment.
Fittingly, Sinclair Haynes, a devout Christian, was the first to swear to be faithful and bear true allegiance to Jamaica and to uphold the Constitution.
Later, as she spoke with The Gleaner, Sinclair Haynes was quick to repeatedly affirm her abiding faith in, and attribute all her achievements to, divine intervention throughout her journey in the judicial arena.
She told The Gleaner that the Christian faith that she practises is reconciled to justice and faith and that her service to her fellow man was scriptural.
She stressed that she harboured no intention of reneging from that calling.
Sinclair Haynes also swore before her peers in the judiciary to be faithful in administering justice to all persons according to the laws and usages of Jamaica without fear or favour, affection or ill will.
She told The Gleaner she was confident that her Christian faith would guide her in the monumental task to which she was assigned.
Having gone through the ranks as a Jamaican, who did a stint on Guyana's legal stage shortly after she passed the bar in the 1980s, Sinclair Haynes said the magnitude of the task in administering justice was not lost on her.
She described the moment when she was summoned to take the pair of oaths as memorable.
In the hall, occupied by mostly dark-suited members of the judicial and legal fraternities, Governor General Sir Patrick Allen expressed confidence in the wisdom and commitment of the judicial committee which had recommended the five.
As such, Sir Patrick said given the committee's penchant for detail, he expected the five to uphold the tradition of judicial excellence and execute their functions with justice and mercy.
"Thanks, on behalf of the nation for accepting the responsibility to serve in this important function," Sir Patrick told the five seated in the place of honour assigned to them.
In imparting his charge, President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Seymour Panton, urged them to constantly keep in mind that there are two sides to every story.
Panton told the five that, with the added responsibility on their collective shoulders by their elevation, they were no longer in a position to utter just about anything in the public domain, and there are some places they will no longer be able to go.
Neither did he cite the words or list places and the questions were not forthcoming - at least at the ceremony.
Chief Justice Zaila McCalla urged the five to continue to perform to their best standards in effecting judicious reviews of the court cases on which they are called to administer justice.