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CHIEF JUSTICE CALLS FOR APPOINTMENT TO BE MADE

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Tribune photo of the Judiciary at the opening of Church Service in Freeport on Friday 11 January 2019

Vera Watkins is the Acting Chief Justice.  She has been the Acting Chief Justice for 8 months, ever since the untimely death of Stephen Isaacs who was appointed for three weeks and then died. He had been acting in the position last year this time and the Bar Association and the public were exercised then about the appointment of a permanent judge to the position of Chief Justice.  The more things change the more they remain the same.  Last year this time, the Prime Minister said that he would not be rushed into picking a Chief Justice and the protests of the Bar and others be damned.  It was his appointment and no one was going to tell him when to make it.  Then he finally relented, it appears, when he must have learned that Stephen Isaacs did not have long to live.  The man lasted three weeks in the appointment and then died.  This year Vera Watkins said on Wednesday 9 January at the Opening of the Judicial Year in Nassau that she is now in the same position.  The lack of a permanent appointment to the Judiciary, has the institution in limbo and the permanent future of the Judiciary cannot be properly planned with an acting appointment.  This year the Prime Minister’s spokesman for the press Anthony Newbold again said the Prime Minister will announce in due course the appointment. So, the more things change, the more they remain the same. The Chairman of the Progressive Liberal Party Senator Fred Mitchell issued the following statement: “The PLP supports the Immediate appointment of a substantive Chief Justice. The Leader of the Opposition made that call today at the grave side wreath laying for Sir Lynden Pindling this morning. We believe that the Prime Minister misunderstands the importance of the post and has fallen into the same error that he did with the failure to appoint Chief Justice Stephen Isaacs in a timely manner. The lack of a substantive appointment insults the Judiciary, insults the individual judges, insults the people that the courts are meant to serve. The appointment should be made forthwith. This is not an appointment that should be based on the personal whims and fancies of the Prime Minister.