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CJ hitch

Tim Slinger

CJ hitch

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THE APPOINTMENT of a new Chief Justice for Barbados has run into a legal snag.
On the eve of Chief Justice designate Marston Gibson taking up the job, SUNDAY SUN investigations have revealed that a challenge has been made to the pending appointment, since it does not appear he meets all of the legal criteria to qualify for the top judicial post.
Gibson, who has been residing in New York for the past 20 years and has been practising and teaching law there, was just two weeks ago in Barbados making final preparations to take up the vacant Chief Justice position.
But, reached over the weekend on Long Island where he lives and is Judicial Referee of the New York State Supreme Court, Gibson confirmed that a question had been raised about his qualification to serve as Barbados’
Chief Justice under the Supreme Court of Judicature Act.
“My immediate response was to text and speak to the Prime Minister [Freundel Stuart],”  he explained without disclosing the details of the conversation.
“I have also spoken to the Attorney General [Adriel Brathwaite] and the position I take is that I am going to leave it in their hands . . . . I have not done anything and I don’t know what they are planning to do.
“I am sure that in the fullness of time they would get back to me with the outcome of their discussions. Apart from that, I will have no other comment,” Gibson added.
Efforts yesterday to reach the Prime Minister and the Attorney General for comment were unsuccessful.
Under Section 7 of the Supreme Court of Judicature Act, anyone who wants to become Chief Justice or a Court of Appeal judge in Barbados must have been practising for no fewer than 15 years in a Commonwealth jurisdiction, or serving during the prescribed period as a parliamentary counsel or as a professor or teacher of law at the University of the West Indies, or at a school for legal education approved by the Judicial and Legal Services Commission.
Gibson, a Rhodes Scholar with law degrees from the University of the West Indies (UWI) and Oxford University in England, had been poised to succeed the retired Chief Justice Sir David Simmons, and was expected to take up office from next month.
A source said that not only was the Chief Justice designate seen familiarising himself with judicial officials while in Barbados, but a mansion in the upscale Pine Gardens, St Michael area had been identified as his official residence.
It is also understood that earlier this year, late Prime Minister David Thompson had held talks with Gibson and approved his appointment as Barbados’ next Chief Justice.
Under the Constitution, the Prime Minister, after consultation with the Leader of the Opposition, appoints the Chief Justice.
The latest development has reportedly reopened the door for the top judicial post, with legal sources suggesting that Justice of Appeal Andrew Burgess was the front-runner.
Also mentioned as a likely choice were Acting Chief Justice Sherman Moore and Justices of Appeal Sandra Mason and Peter Williams.
Whoever is appointed will become the 13th Chief Justice of Barbados.