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JSC told to crack the whip on rogue judicial officers

Errant judicial officers and staff deserve swift disciplinary action to instill public confidence in the Judiciary, High Court judges Pauline Nyamweya and Prof Joel Ngugi said yesterday.

The judges challenged the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) to crack the whip on judges, magistrates and staff accused of professional misconduct to promote integrity and work ethics.

“We must lead by example. There should not be a whiff of corruption involving judicial officers. Decisive action should be taken against corrupt officers and staff,” Justice Nyamweya said during her interview for appointment to the Appellate bench.

Independence

The JSC, she said, should collaborate with investigation agencies to weed out undesired elements in the corridors of justice. Judicial independence was the cornerstone of professionalism, integrity and competence, the judge, who has served the bench for the last nine years, said.

Justice Nyamweya has been the head of the Judicial Review Division in Nairobi, which has cleared nearly 2,000 cases in the last one year after her transfer from Machakos. Only 52 cases, which are five years old, are pending conclusion.

Justice Ngugi, who previously headed the Judiciary Transformation Secretariat (JTS) and the Judiciary Training Institute (JTI), gave a chronology of events leading to tremendous changes in the Judiciary between 2012 and 2016 under the stewardship of retired Chief Justice, Dr Willy Munga.

His successor, Justice David Maraga, took up his blueprint dubbed “Sustaining Judiciary Transformation.”

Capital offences

Prof Ngugi, who is based in Nakuru, proposed that the Judiciary should create an in-house inspectorate on corruption to investigate allegations of graft.

Justice Luka Kimaru, who has been on the bench for the last 16 years, explained to the commission that the Supreme Court decision which outlawed the mandatory death sentence for capital offences opened a floodgate of applications by convicts seeking fresh trials.  Most petitions for review were filed in the High Court to facilitate mitigation and fresh sentencing.

Nairobi-based Lawyer Paul Lelan said the biggest challenge to service delivery in the Judiciary was case backlog and promised to offer his 23 years’ experience to formulate policies to resolve disputes expeditiously.

He said he was an all-rounder in litigation and was well-versed with the application of the law and precedents.

Mombasa-based lawyer William Mogaka told the panel that he was suited to sit on the Appellate bench by virtue of 20 years’ experience. He said he was conversant with all spheres of the law and the Constitution.

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