Judges Should Be Held Accountable

Attorney General Allyson Maynard Gibson recommended that judges be held accountable for long delays in “rendering judgments.”

Mrs Maynard Gibson made her comments before the Constitutional Commission.

She said it may be time to look into whether some form of “judicial misconduct” be added to the constitution for judges who take “too long” by the standards to produce judgments.

“Given the current circumstance of the civil backlog, in some cases with judgments being outstanding for more than two years, the time may have come for an evaluation to be made whether such delays in rendering judgments should constitute some form of judicial misconduct for which judges should be held accountable,” she said.

“For example, in several Latin American countries (Ecuador is an example) at least one country within the Commonwealth Caribbean – namely Guyana – have made such provisions. Article 197 (3) of the Guyana Constitution includes among the grounds for the removal of a judge from office, that of “persistently not writing decisions or for continuously failing to give decision and reasons therefore within such time as may be specified by Parliament.”

Mrs Maynard Gibson also said that judicial training should be mandatory prior to taking judicial office because “just because someone is a good lawyer does not mean they will automatically be a good judge.”

“These considerations,” she said, ”are important as in today’s world a judge is more than a Judicial officer. Other democracies have recognized that a judge is also an administrator. Judges must be held accountable to objective measurement of the efficient use of judicial time. It may be important to put as a requirement that one undergo judicial training as they continue to be a sitting judge given the evolving times.”

Mrs Maynard Gibson also said the government is presently working out the kinks as regards public defenders, but an announcement on this subject will be made in the coming weeks.

Source: Sancheska Brown,
The Tribune