NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 22 – Judicial Service Commissioner Tom Ojienda on Thursday said they unanimously settled on Appellate Court judge David Maraga for nomination as the next Chief Justice for among other qualities his, “ambassadorial,” trait; an ability to work well with the other arms of government.
The necessity of fostering good relations with the National Assembly was brought up again and again by those who were interviewed for the job given it is they who determine how much the exchequer makes available to the Judiciary.
“While ensuring the independence of the Judiciary,” Ojienda was quick to add.
Diplomacy, he said, was also critical to restoring harmony within the Judiciary’s own ranks; judges having been divided by the question of what the retirement age of those appointed prior to the promulgation of the Constitution should be.
Something candidate after candidate for the job of Chief Justice vowed to remedy if appointed Chief Justice; particularly where the Supreme Court is concerned on account of sharp divisions that were displayed when it weighed in, on the retirement question.
Other traits the JSC had been on the look-out for and on which according to Ojienda Maraga scored highest include: integrity and efficiency.
On the question of integrity, Maraga told the JSC at his interview, that none except one in this two decade long career had made the mistake of seeking to compromise him.
“Perhaps because of my style of life and the way I’ve carried myself, I have not had anybody try to influence me to do something. The only small incident I remember is when I was in Mombasa, a police officer comes to me and says ‘judge I want you to help me in this.’ I said ‘what are you talking about?’ In fact I called for his arrest,” he narrated.
As for efficiency, Maraga gave as an example his leadership of the Kisumu Appellate division where he said, matters were dispensed with expeditiously on account of prudent time management.
He said they strove to get straight to the meat and potatoes of the cases brought before them by limiting the preliminary rumbles advocates often engage in.
Time keeping, he said, was also paramount. “I write judgments very fast and in Kisumu where I’m the Presiding Court of Appeal judge, we apologise if court starts even 10 minutes late.”
In the interest of saving time, Maraga told the JSC he’d also work to see court room processes automated.