Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis will appoint a chief justice “when he wishes to”, according to Press Secretary Anthony Newbold who said, the “the course of justice is not being perverted”.
Newbold defended Dr. Minnis’ comments at a press conference on Sunday, where the prime minister responded to questions about the chief justice post, to which he said, “You rather have your light on or a chief justice?”
Newbold said he did not think the comment was rude.
“He will decide when he wishes to appoint a chief justice,” Newbold said,
“Again what I said last week, the dispensing of justice is not being perverted in anyway, the business of justice continues. Now if someone thinks their cause is not being served because there is not a confirmed chief justice, that does not have acting in front of his name or her name, then that person could protest but, there is no evidence that the course of justice is being perverted.
“He (the prime minister) said what he had to say and he will make the decision when he is ready. People will have various positions on what the prime minister says. He has a constitutional authority to appoint a chief justice and when he decides to do so, he will do so.”
When asked if the prime minister could not appoint a chief justice and deal with the electricity, at the same time more or less, Newbold said, “of course he can”.
“I am sure that he can do both and he is doing both,” Newbold said.
“He is dealing with the electricity and the chief justice. There is an acting chief justice. When the prime minister decides that will no longer be enough, then he will do it.”
Fielding questions from the media on Sunday, the prime minister said, he is being advised on the matter by the Attorney General’s (AG) Office and Cabinet, reiterating that there are other matters more pressing for him to deal with.
“You rather have your light on or a chief justice?” Dr. Minnis asked, when questioned by Eyewitness News.
“I am following the constitution which allows a certain time frame to make that appointment,” he said.
Dr. Minnis was also asked if he plans to appoint AG Carl Bethel to the post, to which he responded saying it was a “Cabinet matter”.
Meanwhile, executives of the Bahamas Bar Association (BBA) have written to the AG noting that there have not been any invitations for applications or advertisements that would suggest the requisite transparent and open selection process.
It was also indicated that Senior Justice Stephen Isaacs has both served as acting chief justice on several occasions and is himself more than qualified for the appointment.
“The status quo is wholly unacceptable,” BBA President Kahlil Parker said.
“Continued deferment in this matter has a compounding deleterious effect on the perception of the independence of our judiciary and thereby, the rule of law.”
Dr. Minnis skirted around questions on the appointment, insisting that he is acting within the parameters of the law.