Meet the longest serving Kenya judge

January 28, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 29 – He is the longest serving Judge in the Kenyan judiciary, having began his career as a State Counsel in 1973 and rising through the ranks, first as a resident magistrate in Kiambu then a Senior Resident Magistrate in 1974.

Justice Emmanuel O’kubasu was appointed as a High Court Judge in 1981 where he served until 1999 when he was promoted to the Court of Appeal on December 23 of the same year.

In the course of his career, he was once at the helm of the Kenya Law Reform Commission, besides having been attached to the UNICEF during which time, he says, he participated in the drafting of the Children’s Act.

He says he doesn’t have any regrets about his job and he is ‘inspired by upholding the course of law’.

Notwithstanding these astounding career achievements; the soft spoken Appellate Judge acknowledges several challenges, the greatest of which being ‘making a just and binding decision’.

Also, being a judge at the highest court in the country, he says, very high standards of the judiciary are required of him and his colleagues and this makes the job not very easy.

 “You know when you make a decision as a Court of Appeal Judge, the decision is a permanent record to be referred to.”

“It can also be oppressing,” he politely adds.

Justice O’kubasu says there is so much of reading at the Court of Appeal because when lawyers come to the court of Appeal, they expect satisfaction and submissions take shorter times.

Similary, it becomes very challenging especially with regard to reaching a decision in cases where one of the judges on a Bench is of the contrary view, he says.

But he quickly explains that a Bench would normally endeavor to reach a consensus before making a judgment.

According to the Thika High School alumni, these coupled with other responsibilities exert a pull on time at the Judiciary because “every minute counts at the Court of Appeal”.

He maintains that he does not allow his job to interfere with his private life, being a happy and proud father of five.

Justice O’kubasu’s day begins at dawn because he has to be in court at the start of every session at 9.00am and remains in office until 5.30pm.

He says that he, like other Court of Appeal Judges; rarely get time to break for lunch because of the huge responsibilities.

“Most of us just have snacks for lunch and that is why you don’t see judges in restaurants,” he says, adding that the judges create time to socialise and ‘have a laugh’ about funny political unfolding in the country and ease the pressure sustained from their tedious work.

He also says he is not afraid of walking in the streets and meeting people because he is sure that he follows the law in doing his job.

“If somebody thinks that they may have lost a case because of me, I would tell them that he lost because the law was not on their side,” Justice O’kubasu says on a light note.

Unlike many affluent personalities, he derives pleasure from sharing the little he has with the less fortunate and likes to spend time with family and friends.


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