Justice Jeanne Gacheche declared unfit for office

Roselyne Odede, Vice Chair of the Vetting Board makes the announcement.

NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 3 – High Court judge Jeanne Wanjiku Gacheche was on Friday hauled out of the judiciary after the Judges and Magistrates Vetting Board ruled her as ‘unsuitable’, while clearing three others.


Justice Gacheche was found by the Board to have used judicial powers in an ‘inappropriate manner’, and had also failed to attune her judgments to the requirements of the new constitution.


Justice Gacheche was nailed heavily by a complaint filed on behalf of the Law Society of Kenya (LSK), in which she was accused of issuing long conservatory orders for three insurance companies.


LSK protested that the orders were inappropriate, in place for lengthy periods of time and never took into consideration opposing arguments.


In its determination, the board said that the judge’s response to the accusations was very brief and not enough to exonerate her. Her orders, the board said, had instilled doubts on thousands of lawyers who were pursuing clams on behalf of their clients.


The LSK complained that her actions placed no distinction between honest lawyers and crooks, and had damaged the careers of legal practitioners who’d specialised in pursuing insurance claims.


“The performance of the judges in the three insurance cases had a vast impact over a period two years, and must have inevitably profoundly dented confidence in the judiciary,” the board ruled.


“What links the complaints against her is her failure to comprehend and respond to the needs and experiences against her. Though willing to accept that she might have been wrong in certain technical aspects, she shows no understanding that she had failed to attune the general approach to the text and spirit of the new constitution. She has shown little capacity for introspection,” the vetting panel further said in its determination.


In determinations issued on Friday morning, appellate judges Justices Jessie Lessit and Wanjiru Karanja were pronounced suitable to continue serving as judges.


Justice Mbogholi Msagha, who is currently the resident Judge at the Mombasa High Court was also found suitable, after the Vetting Board determined that he was progressive in his work.


Appeal Judge Karanja was declared suitable but with recommendations that she works on her temperament and relies less on technicalities when deciding cases.


Justice Lessit was cleared after the Board found that complaints by an advocate against her were unmerited. She was described as a very courteous, polite and cool tempered judge.


Justice Msagha meanwhile was let off the hook after the Board upheld the ruling he made disbanding the Kenya Anti-Corruption Authority (KACA) saying it was fair and properly grounded in law.


The board said the decision precipitated the government to act and put in place proper structures to combat corruption by enacting the KACA Act, which was used to investigate and prosecute several anti-corruption cases.


They commended him for the judgment in which he held that every accused person had the right to access witness statements before trial, and that failure to do so amounts to a mistrial. The board insisted that the move “shut the door on trial by ambush in criminal cases, which was the norm in Kenya at the time.”


Justice Msagha was also questioned on why he struck out an election petition by the incumbent President Mwai Kibaki, challenging the election of President Daniel arap Moi in 1997.


He said the High Court was bound by precedents set by the Court of Appeal, and at that time the courts greatly relied on technicality in determining cases. He was let off on grounds of showing remorse and commitment to change.


“He (Msagha) confirmed that if he was to decide the matter today, he would not rely on technicalities. The panel observed and the Board agreed, that the Judge has undergone a mindset change, was progressive and has embraced the Constitution,” read the determination.


The board said that he had also contributed to the development of jurisprudence in Kenya.


Meanwhile, sources at the Vetting Board have said that determinations for Justices Kalpana Rawal, Martha Koome and David Maraga will be announced in two weeks time since they were not complete.


Last week, the Board, in a letter to the Chief Justice said it would announce their verdict regarding the three judges by this week after a ruling on the election date case. The ruling took place on Tuesday.



Lordrick is a graduate of the University of Nairobi with a bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism. He is passionate about political and governance issues. He also takes keen interest in human rights matters, justice and is fond of sports.

  • jicho pevu

    Can somebody give us a feel of how Sharad Rao performed as an assistant to Charles Njonjo during those dark ages?

    • http://www.facebook.com/kachu.boniface Kachu Boniface

      Jicho pevu i agree with you. We cant let just a group of people determine the performance of others. Especially to be an appelate judge in Kenya is a long walk and should not be shuttered by just a complaining convict or so. We first need to subject Rao and his group to the same vetting and see if they pass!

  • http://www.facebook.com/kachu.boniface Kachu Boniface

    It is a sad day that Justice Lady Gacheche had to be hauled in this annoying manner and in my wisdom her mistake is to regularly embarass the high and mighty and their relations in her rulings. She was the only one left at Milimani making those useful judgements.
    I would like to ask the so called Kenyans one question. Who is going to take up these reponsibilities? We like impeccable people and we are not ourselves. At a point we have to stop and realize that people change and also we may never get entirely blameless people , we will always find blemish as long as they have been in practice for sometime. Today teachers, doctors and lecturers want salary increaments super increaments, as much as i sympathize with them and my dear mother is a teacher, we should be realistic…they cant get 300% now or they can only if we pay more tax. As kenyans we should also realize that Govt doesnt own money but taxpayer or loans. Either the Govt will take loans on our behalf or we will pay more tax to sustain everyones demands. The Govt needs the money to pay the teachers who will also have to pay taxes more heavily and then as citizens and all kenyans the cost of goods should go up and then the Govt will make more money to pay teachers, doctors, nurses and lecturers ..God forbid who knows what group will be next!

  • http://www.facebook.com/kachu.boniface Kachu Boniface

    And by the way Matemu is out, there is no one as the police comissioner legally, and we blame the president and prime minister. If we have to make rules that stringent we may never find no one. We should accept a level of blemish..and develop on tat . Otherwise we should stop complaining that no officials have bben appointed in these positions and that why we have insecurity etecetera.
    And now with Mutula and Githae…lets stop bashing these poor souls if we understand what it means to have this new constitution and basic budgeting rules. First Githae now doesnt decide what is spent or not , it is the Parliamentarians. Secondly Mutula doesnt hire or fire teachers therefore doesnt determine their renumeration. And for the Doctors ( Private technicians – i think we are missing the point. Its good that the private technicians/registrars fund their own education and are given the opportunity to train at public institutions but paying them at that rate means we have to do the same with public funded ones. And they pay nothing for using public facilities??? And finally neither does Mutula hire lecturers nor does he fire them so they should actually be dialoguing with the universities which are parastatals which means they manage their own budgetary and income issues.

    The bottomline kenyans let me tell you all those costs are shouldered by you and me. If we agree that all those salaries/allowances should be paid it means we agree to pay more in terms of taxes:- VAT, PAYE etc. then like that the Govt can pay them.