Four new judges join 20-member bench

Main Stories, National

The National, Tuesday 06th December 2011

IT WAS a sign of judicial solidarity when a 24-judge bench of the Supreme and National Court assembled in a ceremonial sitting last Friday.
The occasion was to welcome four new judges onto the bench of 24 permanent judges – one short than the 25 permanent judge ceiling required, Chief Justice Sir Salamo Injia told the special sitting.
“This is a special sitting of this Court to officially welcome four new judges of the Supreme Court and National Court,” he said.
He introduced the four new permanent judges: Justices Stephen Kassman, Jacinta Murray, Berna Joan Collier and John Alexander Logan RFD.
Sir Salamo said the special sitting was historic for two reasons.
“It is the biggest gathering of permanent judges of the National and Supreme Court of PNG.
 “The appointment of these four judges brings the total number of permanent judges to 24, which is one judge short of the approved ceiling of 25 judges.
“This number is the highest since independence. This number of judges plus five acting judges of the court brings the number of judges to 29,” Sir Salamo said.
He said the judiciary’s plan was to increase the number to 40 judges by 2015.
“This sitting also marks the first occasion on the appointment of two serving judges of the high court of another country. Both Justice Collier and Justice Logan are serving members of the bench of the Australian Federal Court,” he said.
Sir Salamo said the appointment of the two judges was done under a memorandum of understanding for judicial cooperation signed in 2009. It has the backing of the Australian federal government and the PNG government through their respective Attorney Generals, Robert McClelland and Ano Pala.
“This is also the first occasion where one of our own PNG-born sons has acquired Australian citizenship and his previous appointment as a citizen judge has been rectified by JLSC to reflect his status.”
He also noted the increase in the number of permanent female judges to three.
 “Each of these men and women has behind them an outstanding career in legal practice and fine personal attributes which the governments of Australia and PNG recognised and had no hesitation in appointing them to the bench.”