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Senator slams change to act

Trevor Yearwood

Senator slams change to act

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“A legal obscenity”.
This is how the Opposition’s main spokesman in the Senate, Kerrie Symmonds, yesterday described Government’s move to amend the Supreme Court of Judicature Act.H
owever, the amendment was passed at 7:45 p.m., clearing the way for the appointment of a new Chief Justice.
Symmonds made the criticism in a speech during which there were sharp exchanges with Senate President Sir Branford Taitt, who repeatedly questioned the relevance of comments made by the lawyer and former Government minister and on a number of occasions asked him to take his seat.
It was also a presentation during which Sir Branford Taitt said he would not allow the Opposition politician to “bully” him “in any position today” or “lecture” him.
Symmonds argued that Government was amending the act just so it could appoint United States-based Barbadian jurist Marston Gibson as Chief Justice after he had failed to meet the requirements about practising law in a Commonwealth jurisdiction. 
Symmonds said that while Gibson was “of the highest calibre intellectually” and represented what one would expect of a Chief Justice anywhere in the world, Government was setting a dangerous precedent by changing the law to treat him as a “special case”.
However, Sir Branford pointed out that the amendment made no reference to any impending appointment, nor did it name anyone. “You continue to speak of a gentleman. This legislation which is before this Senate does not refer to any gentleman . . . and I wish that you would refer to the legislation that is before the House,” he told the lawyer/politician.
On a number of occasions, Sir Branford appealed to Symmonds to “please be relevant”.
Symmonds told Sir Brandord that he was defending Gibson’s character, but Taitt said: “May you never defend mine.”Symmonds response was: “I don’t want to defend you and I never would, if asked to. Let us be very frank about that.” (TY)
Full story in Thursday’s DAILY NATION.