Tue | Jun 15, 2021

Zaila McCalla Flies Her School Flag High

Published:Wednesday | November 25, 2015 | 12:00 AMJanelle Oswald
Chief Justice Zaila McCalla
In this June 2012 Gleaner file photo, then newly appointed Queen’s Counsel flank Chief Justice Zaila McCalla (centre) in her chambers after she admitted them to practise at the Inner Bar. From left: George Soutar, Walter Scott, David Batts and Sandra Minott Phillips.

Montego Bay High School for Girls is celebrating 80 years of helping to shape the lives of some of the island's most outstanding women. Among them is Jamaica's first female chief justice, Zaila McCalla.

Chief Justice McCalla continues to fly the flag for the school high as she is a living example of their celebration's theme, Unconquerable and Enduring. But McCalla has always been a high achiever.

First attending the Chantilly All-Age School in Westmoreland where she passed the Common Entrance Examination, McCalla has secured for herself a permanent place in Jamaica's history.

The chief was appointed on June 27, 2007, succeeding the Justice Lensley Wolfe. A proud graduate of the University of the West Indies and the Norman Manley Law School, the married mother of three comes from a family of six children born to Beryl and Leopold Morris in St James.

Her admission to the Bar in 1976 preceded a long and distinguished legal career. Between October 1976 and November 1977, she served as deputy clerk of court. She was promoted to clerk of courts in November of 1977, a post she served in until July 1980. From July 1980, she served as Crown Counsel in the Department of Public Prosecutions. She was promoted on March 1985 to assistant director of public prosecutions.

Career as a judge

In August of 1985, she became a resident magistrate and was later promoted to senior resident magistrate in April of 1996. In August of 1996, she became a master in chambers. On July 7, 1997 McCalla was appointed puisne judge, a post she served in until April 10, 2006, when she was promoted to judge of appeal.

An active member of St Margaret's Church, Liguanea, the exemplary former Montego Bay High School student was recently appointed as the new chancellor of the Diocese of Jamaica and The Cayman Islands announced by the Bishop of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, Rev Dr Howard Gregory.

Her new role automatically makes her a member of the church committee at St Margaret's, as well as the Diocesan Council, which is the standing committee of the Synod - the highest body in the church. She will also serve on the Diocesan Financial board and as a member of Synod.