, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 23- The Judges and Magistrates Vetting board has dismissed appeals lodged by five Judges who had sought an application for review after they were declared unfit for office last year.
Board Chairman Sharad Rao told journalists on Saturday that Justices Joyce Khaminwa, Muga Apondi, Murugi Mugo, Mary Angawa and Leonard Njagi were found unfit to continue holding office even after review of their appeals.
He at the same time announced that Justices Abida Aroni and Nicholas Ombija would be vetted afresh out of the eight Judges who had appealed earlier rulings.
“We are pleased to announce our determinations in respect to seven of eight reviews, pending before us. The review hearing in respect to Justice Sergon has not yet been heard as he was unwell and unable to attend the review hearing,” Rao said while delivering the board’s ruling on Saturday.
Lady Justice Khaminwa’s application flopped because the Board still felt that her ill health could jeopardise her ability to deliver rulings on time if retained at the judiciary.
Rao explained that Justice Khaminiwa even had difficulties sitting through two hours of her review hearing owing to her health and at one point asked the interviewing panel why it was taking too long.
A case list retrieved from the Milimani Law Courts indicated that as at February 3, 2010, she had 63 pending rulings and judgments dating as far back as 2006.
According to Rao, the judge did not deny existence of the delayed rulings instead saying that there was too much work over the years due to insufficient number of judges.
“Taking all these factors to account and giving due weight to the doctor’s opinion on her physical health, the Board concluded that the Judge no longer had the capacity to fulfill the notoriously arduous work required for managing a Court,” he said.
Justice Apondi’s request for a review was turned down because he was unable to convince the Board that he was suitable for office.
He was accused of acting improperly by receiving an allocation of state land and immediately reselling it at more than 10 times of the original cost.
“The Judge appeared unable to distinguish between what was legally permissible on the one hand and what was judicially wise on the other,” explained Rao.
The Board noted that it had received several complaints from advocates touching on the temperament of Lady Justice Mugo who was accused of being moody and abrasive by the Law Society of Kenya, Rift Valley branch.
She was also accused of making factual errors in law.
In her defense, Lady Justice Mugo said that she had lost her husband three years before her appointment to the bench and was a single parent to her teenage children.
“The Judge said that she can improve her behavior and possibly undergo counseling. The Board sympathises but regrettably finds that this is not a sufficient reason to grant the application for review,” he stated.
“Certain judgments made by Lady Justice Angawa were used to vet her suitability.She faced accusations of applying procedures not known to law in addition to mistreating advocates,” the board concluded.
And to support the board’s findings, Rao noted that most of her rulings had been overturned after appeals were filed.
Justice Ombija wanted the board to review his application citing bias in the earlier vetting process but the Board turned him down.
“The Judge conceded that she had issued a warrant of arrest against a complainant’s advocate for non attendance of judgment delivery in a civil matter,” he noted.
“The Board holds that this is an improper, unacceptable exercise of judicial authority,” said Rao.