Judges Stage Historic Summit, Disrupting Court Proceedings

In an extraordinary move, without precedent, judges across the island are citing what they say appears to be another instance of interference by the Legislative and Executive branches of government in the area of the independence of the Judiciary.

Nearly 100 judges met today in what’s being described as a ‘historic summit of the judicial arm of Government.’

Courts across the island were disrupted from 10:00 this morning as judges convened in downtown Kingston. The matter at the top of the agenda– Prime Minister Andrew Holness’ appointment of Justice Bryan Sykes as acting Chief Justice. The acting appointment of Justice Sykes has sparked heavy criticism. And, it has not gone down well with the judiciary.

High Court and Parish judges came in their numbers this morning to sit and raise their concerns on the matter.

In a statement this afternoon, the Court Management Services says the thrust of the meeting was to reaffirm the hallowed principles of the separation of powers doctrine and the independence of the judiciary.

One of the criticisms in the public is Prime Minister Holness’ decision to ask Justice Sykes to prove himself before fully appointing him as Chief Justice is an interference in the affairs of the judiciary.

The Judges say this sort of interference from the Legislative and Executive branches of government is new.

However, it didn’t state the other instances. The rare meeting disrupted court proceedings islandwide today. Several matters in the Supreme court, the Court of Appeal and the parish court were adjourned from as early as 10:00.

Jurors for ongoing trials were told to return tomorrow.

The statement says the nation’s Judges recognize and deeply regret the inconvenience to litigants, Attorneys and members of the public across the island, caused by today’s meeting in downtown Kingston. But they believe in light of the gravity of the matter, and in the interest of the country’s democracy and justice system, it was thought to be an absolute necessity.

The statement says for those persons inconvenienced, the judges will endeavour to ensure that their matters are rescheduled for the earliest possible time.

Meanwhile, a Jamaica House source says Justice Bryan Sykes will be fully appointed to the post of Chief Justice on Friday. Justice Sykes was appointed to act as Chief Justice on February 1. He was told by the Prime Minister to prove himself before being appointed. That decision has spawned much criticism of the Prime Minister