Bar Association passes motion for confirmation of Chancellor, CJ

Attorney-at-law Kamal Ramkarran was yesterday re-elected as President of the Guyana Bar Association (GBA), which also passed a motion to support the confirmation of acting Chancellor of the Judiciary Yonette Cummings-Edwards and acting Chief Justice (CJ) Roxane George-Wiltshire SC.

Stabroek News was reliably informed that the motion was moved by attorney Emily Dodson in the presence of about 40 lawyers, who had gathered for the GBA’s annual General Meeting (AGM) at the High Court, where elections were held.

President David Granger had nominated Belizean Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin for the post of Chancellor, along with Cummings-Edwards for the position of substantive Chief Justice.

Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo has since disagreed with the president’s choice and at the moment there is no indication as to what is the solution to the impasse as the two have traded blame over who must take responsibility for the stalled process. The president had suggested that Jagdeo’s failure to provide counterproposals in light of his disagreement is stalling the process. Jagdeo, in response, said that he would not be making any counterproposals and that he has made his position clear in his correspondence to the president. Granger recently said that he plans to have a meeting with Jagdeo “very soon” to discuss the appointments and other pressing issues.

Outgoing Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) President Sir Dennis Bryon and President-Designate Justice Adrian Saunders have expressed disappointment at Guyana’s failure to make substantive appointments for over a decade.

Bryon had contended that the situation should be remedied as soon as possible, while adding that the courts could be approached if needs be.

In March, Ramkarran, at a legal training forum, had called for the confirmation of Justices Cummings-Edwards and George-Wiltshire.

Weeks earlier and following Jagdeo’s disagreement with the nominees, the Bar Association warned against unconstitutional appointments of the Chancellor and CJ, stating that stating that it would have embarrassing consequences.  In a statement which appeared to underline its own concerns about the way in which the process was evolving, the Bar Council of the GBA called on the government and the opposition to “break the impasse and arrive at a consensual resolution.” Its concern was that the appointments might be made by the government outside of the constitutional provisions. The Ministry of the Presidency, in response, labelled the GBA statement as reckless, while stating that Granger had said previously that he would be guided by the provisions of the Constitution of Guyana on the way forward.

The Transparency Institute of Guyana Incorporated (TIGI) has since called for the two leaders to show maturity and to utilise compromise to bring an end to the current impasse.

Meanwhile, during the AGM, most of the key executives were re-elected. Re-elected unopposed were Ramkarran as President, Robin Stoby SC as Vice-President, Teni Housty as Vice President, Pauline Chase as Secretary and Devindra Kissoon as Treasurer. Keoma Griffith was elected Assistant Secretary, while Savitri Parag, Alana Lall, Timothy Jonas, Arudranauth Gossai, Jamela Ali and Sanjeev Datadin were elected as committee members.  

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