High praise for retired Court of Appeal judge
Published: Wednesday | August 12, 2009
Members of the judiciary and the legal profession recently paid glowing tributes to Court of Appeal judge Algernon Smith who retired after 40 years of service to the justice system.
President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Seymour Panton, praised Smith for serving with distinction in the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions as a puisne judge and as a judge of the Court of Appeal.
Smith retired July 31 after spending seven years on the Court of Appeal bench.
"The presence of all indicates and underscores the high regard in which Mr Justice Smith is held," Panton told the large gathering which turned out at the farewell ceremony in the Court of Appeal.
"As puisne judges, we sat together on the Full Court on several occasions. He has an admirable trait which I commend to all judges - quiet firmness, fearful of no one but fair," Panton added.
He reminded the gathering that Smith was one of the judges who sat on the unprecedented case where the Jamaican Bar Association had challenged the unilateral decree of the then Chief Justice Lensley Wolfe in relation to court times.
Wolfe had wanted court to start at 9 a.m. instead of 10. Smith and the late Justice Neville Clarke ruled that the chief justice had no such authority. Justice Lloyd Ellis, now retired, dissented.
Commenting on the case, Panton said, "It took courage for Mr Justice Smith and Mr Justice Clarke to have ruled in the way they did." He said also that Smith recently had been involved in several electoral matters arising from the September 2007 national poll.
"He has not wavered, notwith-standing the fact that after one of these cases an attorney went on radio and libelled us."
"We are going to miss his friendly smile and the country will be losing a very good judge," Panton added. He said Smith's wife, Veronica, and his family had been very supportive.
Some of the other speakers paying tribute to the retired judge were Douglas Leys, solicitor general, and Paula Llewellyn, director of public prosecutions.
Smith was called to the Bar at Lincoln's Inn in 1968 and began working as an assistant clerk in the Resident Magistrate's Court that same year. He was promoted to deputy clerk of the courts in 1969 and clerk of the courts in 1970. He was appointed assistant Crown counsel in 1975 and assistant director of public prosecutions in 1978.
In 1980, he was appointed deputy director of public prosecutions. He was appointed puisne judge in 1988 and judge of the Court of Appeal in 2002.
Smith is an associate tutor and former course director at the Norman Manley Law School. He is also a deacon at the Bethel Baptist Church.