Sevua says ‘quality’ in judges vital

National, Normal

The National- Wednesday, January 19, 2011


THE quality of judges may have deteriorate over the years, according to retired judge Mark Sevua and he blames it on the way they are currently appointed.

He said the new system encouraged any lawyer to apply to be a judge.

As a result, he said, at least four of the current 21 judges were not fit to be on the bench.

Sevua, whose term was not extended when it expired on Jan 6 this year, said that from 2003, anyone wishing to be a judge could submit an application; as long as a lawyer had a practising certificate and had worked for at least five years, he said.

Previously, he said, judges were appointed based on merit.

“I was appointed on merit. We (referring to himself and a couple of senior judges) did not have to apply; but now people apply and that is why you have so many applications by lawyers and magistrates wanting to be judges,” he told a media conference last Thursday.

Sevua, who is challenging the Judicial and Legal Service Commission (JLSC) for not renewing his contract on Sept 28, last year said that the current procedure began about 2003 or 2004.

He also said experience was vital.  

“The question is experience. Leaving side, qualification, which is a paper qualification, as long and you have a law degree and you have served five years. But leaving that aside, what about the experience? Have they (the applicants) experience in all fields of law that they can handle the job? And some of the judges there should not be judges.”

Sevua, the current system of choosing judges also contributed towards and emphasised on “quantity” rather than “quality”. 

He said: “Because if Sir Arnold Amet was still a Chief Justice, they (the four whom Sevua referred to earlier) would not be judges. Sir Arnold would insist on quality, not quantity. Because of the backlog of cases we want more judges to join, so that we can reduce the backlog.”