The vacancy created by the retirement of chief justice Zaila McCalla’s retirement has created a firestorm revealing things some of us knew all along.
There is a strong argument to be made that the Administration fell down on the job, clearly, it is the prerogative of the Prime Minister to appoint a competent replacement to fill the vacancy.
With that understanding, whoever advises the PM on these issues be it Justice Minister Delroy Chuck or Attorney General Marlene Malahoo Forte or whoever, that person should be sanctioned by the Prime Minister. He or she should have brought it to the Prime Minister’s attention in a timely manner that that critical position would have to be filled.(granted that it wasn’t done)
Under the Jamaican Constitution, it is the Prime Minister who recommends a replacement to be confirmed by the Governor General to be the Chief Justice.
It is a bit rich to suggest that the Prime Minister must then have no control over the judiciary insofar as deliberation is concerned when the Prime Minister as the people’s representative holds the most senior executive position in the country and is required to do due diligence to fill that very vacancy.
Whatever the reason that the PM decided to place Justice Sykes in an acting role is neither here nor there. He has the right to place a competent person to fill the slot until such time that he has considered fully what his best options are for this most important job.
By placing Justice Sykes in position to fill the slot of chief justice albeit temporarily, is evidence that the PM believes that he should do further due diligence in the best interest of the country.
If the Prime Minister did not do that he would have abdicated his sacred responsibility to the country and the people who elected him to serve their best interest.
There is a legitimate argument to be made on the question of why a suitable person was not selected previously, with the knowledge that justice McCalla was nearing retirement age. However, this much to do about nothing, is clearly an attempt at politicization by the political opposition, members of the Bar Association and shockingly, the over one hundred judges who locked down the system yesterday so that they could engage in what seems eerily like a bold exercise of partisan brinkmanship.
Nowhere in the industrialized world has this happened in my recollection, (I stand to be corrected). Every nonsensical argument about the separation of power just got tossed out the window with the actions of the judges yesterday.
Judges are appointed by politicians they are not elected by the people. As a consequence, this purist notion of non-interference is not rooted in reality.
The notion that judges should not be answerable to anyone enhances the concept of totalitarianism, only of a different kind.
The long-held purile claims of judicial independence and exceptionalism just got washed away yesterday in an avalanche of political brinksmanship.
The unelected overlords who fundamentally believe that they should not be subject to anyone’s supervision and their supporters peeled back the deceptive veneer and exposed the putrid sore many of us knew existed all along.
A sore which is far more putrid and infected than the average citizen care to acknowledge, one that lets dangerous killers go free time and time and time again and refuses to allow charges against their political associates to proceed.
They fundamentally believe that the people’s representatives should not tell them what to do, despite the fact that they are placed in the positions they occupy by the people’s representatives.
There is the never-ending cheerleading in the petty section called the Bar Association, the rancid pool from which they are pulled. No one has a problem with their support for their colleagues but God forbid Police officers stand up for themselves and all hell breaks loose.
The larger issue, however, is the blatant hypocrisy of the Jamaican society, the governing administration, the political opposition and every other sector of the society, in their lack of response to Anthony Harriot’s cowardly attack on the JCF.
Now everyone is up in arms at the appointment of Byran Sykes to fill a position he will ultimately get, albeit the temporary hold that the PM has instituted as he clearly has the right to do.
Justice Sykes will get the job, but the nation’s hypocrites who sit in judgment will never reclaim the sense of “above it all “they previously enjoyed.
The hoods are off and it is plain to see that they were never what they purported to be.
Hate to say I told you so but I did.