Thu | Aug 16, 2018

Judges' meeting crippling courts, says Chuck

Published:Monday | February 12, 2018 | 12:25 PM

Livern Barrett , ‎Senior Gleaner Writer

Justice Minister Delroy Chuck has described as inappropriate a meeting of all judges which is now in progress at the Supreme Court in downtown Kingston.

Chuck says he has no idea of the purpose of the meeting, which began shortly before the 10 o'clock opening of all courts.

Sources close to the meeting revealed that the judges are discussing the continued refusal of Prime Minister Andrew Holness to permanently appoint Bryan Sykes as Chief Justice.

According to the sources, the judges want to ensure that they understand the issue of separation of powers and the reasons for the refusal to appoint Justice Sykes.

The acting Chief Justice is reportedly not at the meeting and sources insisted that it was not a protest action.

However, Chuck revealed that he has been informed that a number of courts are not operating, causing significant inconvenience to attorneys, accused persons and witnesses.

Speaking to The Gleaner/Power106 News Centre this morning, the Justice Minister said he would be surprised if the meeting was about Justice Sykes' tenure, as he has already indicated that it would be dealt with in short order.

On January 31 Attorney General Marlene Malahoo Forte announced that Holness had asked Governor General Sir Patrick Allen to appoint Sykes to replace retired Chief Justice Zaila McCalla "until further advised."

The appointment of an acting Chief Justice was immediately frowned upon by the parliamentary Opposition, the Jamaican Bar Association and civil society groups.

However, Holness has defended the move, saying he was from a different age with a different way of thinking and indicated Justice Sykes' permanent appointment would depend on his performance.

"Actions that brings results (sic) will determine the assumption of the role of Chief Justice, " the Prime Minister said during the swearing in ceremony for Justice Sykes.