EDITORIAL – Let justice be seen to be done
You are recommended, and once appointed there are no obligations to anyone. I would not have it any other way. – Marston Gibson, Barbadian-born New York judge.
THERE?IS?NO?DOUBT that our judiciary is held in high esteem even outside the boundaries of Barbados – well throughout the region, and beyond.
And we must do our utmost to keep it so.
That is why the brouhaha between the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) Government and the Barbados Labour Party Opposition over the pending appointment of New York judge Marston Gibson is so unfortunate. It seems to be agreed on both sides that Judge Gibson is a man of some substance; the sticking point is his qualification under law to be made Chief Justice.
The Laws of Barbados state that for Mr Gibson to be appointed to such a judicial posting he must first have been practising in Barbados or the Commonwealth for at least 15 years, which criterion he certainly does not meet. But the Government is so impressed by Mr Gibson’s other substantial achievements and accomplishments, it is hell-bent on having him.
As one Government official said: “[Mr Gibson] is best suited for the job.”
Reports suggest that both political sides have had “discussion” with the goodly judge – for whatever reason, Dale Marshall denying it had anything to do, when he was Attorney General, with offering Mr Gibson a job on the bench.
We are still to hear from Opposition Leader Owen Arthur if, when Prime Minister, he did indeed speak to the New York judge about relocating here, or if he spoke to him at all.
If Mr Marshall’s expressed views reflect the feelings of Mr Arthur, then we may expect the Opposition Barbados Labour Party to give no comfort to the Government in its desire.
It is sad, though, that this difference between two sides should see the good name of former Chief Justice Sir David Simmons, who served with great distinction, being dragged into the fray.
It is not good for the fine reputation of our judiciary.
At any rate, with or without the support of the Opposition, Mr Freundel Stuart and company must go to Parliament and amend the Barbados Supreme Court Judicature Act that Mr Gibson might sit on that bench. The Government has the numbers to pull it off. But it must be done prior to any appointment of the said Mr Gibson.
Otherwise, it would be an irony of all ironies, for we believe Judge Gibson himself would have it no other way.