After months of delay President David Granger is this morning set to swear in four High Court judges and one Appeal Court judge.
Stabroek News has been informed that High Court Judge Rishi Persaud will be elevated to an Appeal Court judge, while attorneys Simone Morris-Ramlall, Damone Younge, Sandil Kissoon and Gino Persaud will be sworn in as Puisne Judges.
At least three of the expected appointees, Younge, Kissoon and Justice Persaud, are said to have been on the list submitted to President Granger last year May by the former Judicial Service Commission (JSC), which was then headed by now retired acting Chancellor Carl Singh. However, it was not acted on and some had expressed concerns over the apparent delay. While he had not sworn in Justice Persaud as an appellate judge, the President earlier this year elevated Justice Dawn Gregory, whose name was submitted at the same time.
Gino Persaud, a Chevening scholar, is a co-founder of anti-corruption watchdog group, the Transparency Institute of Guyana Inc. He worked in the Attorney-General’s Chambers for three years before taking up an attachment at the Guyana Revenue Authority and then going into private practice as a lawyer at the de Caires, Fitzpatrick & Karran law firm.
Younge has been employed as State Solicitor/Public Trust, while Kissoon has been in private practice.
Morris-Ramlall was employed as the Managing Attorney at the Legal Aid Clinic. She was admitted to the bar in 2000 and served in the Chambers of the Director of Public Prosecutions until 2004. Her next stint was at the Attorney General’s Chambers, where she remained for one year. After four years in private practice, she started her service at Legal Aid in 2009. Morris-Ramlall is also the past president of the Guyana Association of Women Lawyers.
Granger had told reporters in March, shortly after swearing in acting Chancellor Yonnette Cummings-Edwards and acting Chief Justice Roxane George, that he had asked the former to advise him in relation to the vacancies in the judiciary.
Article 128(1) of the Constitution provides that judges, other than the Chancellor and Chief Justice, are appointed by the president, “who shall act in accordance with the advice of the Judicial Service Commission.” Article 128(2) also provides that “the President shall act in accordance with the advice of the Judicial Service Commission and appoint a person to act in the office of Justice of Appeal or Puisne Judge, as the case may be.”
Granger had recently said that the list of promotions was with Justice Cummings-Edwards for her to have a look, following which she was to resubmit a list to him.
In November last year, Senior Counsel Ralph Ramkarran had accused Attorney General Basil Williams of “shredding the Constitution” by stating that President Granger had discretion in deciding whether to appoint judges recommended by the JSC.
Ramkarran pointed out that in 2001, the authority of the JSC had been strengthened and the discretion of the President in appointments was removed by the substituting of the word “shall” for “may.”
Said Ramkarran, “The AG seeks to confer on the President an obligation to second guess the JSC which the Constitution does not. This is a public shredding of the Constitution, which needs urgent clarification by the President or Prime Minister. A statement in the National Assembly would suffice. Otherwise the public pronouncements of the AG would be taken as the official policy of the government.”