CJ concern: Marshall wants answers
WHAT HAS HAPPENED with the proposed appointment of Barbados’ new Chief Justice? It’s a question being raised by the Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP), which says Government must act with haste to fill the post.
“The Government has to do something about this situation,” former Attorney General Dale Marshall told the SUNDAY SUN yesterday.
The St Joseph Member of Parliament said that the Supreme Court of Judicature Act had been amended by Government to facilitate the appointment of United States-based jurist Marston Gibson, but still nothing had been done.
“It has been a year since Sir David Simmons has left office and since then we’ve had an acting Chief Justice who has been acting based on several short-term appointments. Our understanding is that the acting Chief Justice is now in that post until further notice,” Marshall added.
He said that as a result of the current situation, the acting Chief Justice could not effectively oversee the local judicial system.
“That is not satisfactory for a country like Barbados,” he complained.
Marshall also took exception to the public disclosures by Gibson about the justice system and his intentions.
“Gibson has spoken quite liberally to the Press and, of course, he is entitled to do that as an individual citizen, but there is something called judicial temperament that means a lot in our neck of the woods,” Marshall said.
“In the US judges and court officers speak freely to the Press; it is part of their culture. It is not part of ours. But Mr Gibson appears to be operating in the North American mode, and one wonders if the Government is not feeling a little discomfort at that.”
Marshall also said that while Gibson declared his intention to get rid of the assizes system, the former chief justice had already done that years ago.
“In his pronouncement, he [Gibson] has demonstrated a clear ignorance on the system that he says he wants to come and administer,” he charged.“
It may well be that Government is backing away from the appointment, given Mr Gibson’s propensity to speak to the Press and also given the fact that he has demonstrated a significant ignorance of matters of our court system which really cannot be endearing him to the political or the judicial leaders at this point in time.”
Efforts to reach Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, whose office has responsibility for recommending the Chief Justice’s appointment, proved futile yesterday.