Law Society of Kenya representative to the Judicial Service Commission Macharia Njeru on Monday expressed dissent to the list of persons recommended for appointment of Court of Appeal judges.
Mr Njeru said after the announcement Chief Justice David Maraga made that he strongly presented a case for at least two lawyers to be included in the list but the JSC only recommended one person — Dr Imana Laibuta — for appointment. The rest of the 11 names are judges of the High Court who will be elevated to the Court of Appeal.
Among those who made it from a list of 35 persons who were interviewed are longest-serving Justice Msagha Mbogholi, who is currently the presiding judge of the civil division of the High Court in Nairobi. The other is Justice Jessie Lesiit, who is currently the presiding judge of the Criminal Division of the High Court.
Among the high profile cases, she is currently handling is the trial of Migori governor Okoth Obado, his personal assistant Michael Oyamo and Caspal Obiero, a clerk in Migori County. They have denied murdering student Sharon Otieno.
Mr Oyamo and Mr Obiero unsuccessfully applied for the judge to recuse herself from the case citing bias. She is also hearing the trial of five people, among them four police officers accused of murdering lawyer Willie Kimani, bodaboda rider Joseph Mwenda and taxi driver Joseph Muiruri.
Other judges who were recommended for appointment were Justices Francis Tuiyott, Pauline Nyamweya, Weldon Korir, Aggrey Muchelule, Mumbi Ngugi and Justices George Odunga, who made a name issuing orders against the government while serving at the Judicial Review Division of the High Court in Nairobi. Others are Justices Hellen Omondi and Joel Mwaura.
The commission had shortlisted 22 judges for the interviews and 13 lawyers. There are 11 vacant positions at the Court of Appeal while two other senior judges, Erastus Githinji and Alnashir Visram, are set to retire this year. The country’s second-highest court currently has 19 judges, 11 short of the required 30.
There are four Court of Appeal stations in the country including Nairobi, where a majority of judges are stationed and Kisumu, Malindi and Nyeri, which have three judges each.