The Judicial Service Commission selected fresh blood and diversity in appointing 28 new high court judges yesterday. And to reflect the diversity the JSC gave eleven sitting magistrates, two Kenyans in the diaspora, a woman with albinism and a Kenyan European jobs as the new judges. Of the 28, 13 positions were taken by women applicants and 15 by men. “We have picked candidates from rich diversities decreed by the constitution and law including gender, ethnicity, county, generation, minorities and other forms of marginalization,” said Chief Justice Willy Mutunga.
He said the JSC during the selection process also took into consideration diversity that exists currently in the judiciary in order to address the gaps that exist. Mutunga said, “We considered academic backgrounds, the professional experience and personal integrity of the candidates.” The new judges will boost the number of already existing 45 high court judges and ease the backlog of cases that has been a perennial problem in the judiciary.
In order to tackle the persistent problem of backlog of cases, the Chief Justice said, the judiciary will also appoint commissioners of assize. The commissioners of assize expected to be appointed within the next two weeks will assume duties as judges in the judiciary on a voluntary basis.
Yesterday’s appointments which were made after intensive interviews which lasted eight weeks saw 87 candidates dismissed. The judiciary staff who managed to get the high court jobs included Lydia Achode who until her appointment was high court registrar, senior magistrates Grace Nzioka, Christine Meoli, Rose Ougo, Cecilia Githua, Ongundi Imbosa, Stella Muketi, Korir Kipyegon, Muriithi Edward Muthoga and Jaden Nthiori.
Lawyers who got the jobs are Ngugi Grace Mumbi, Joseph Mutava Mbalu, Ogola Eric Okumu, Havelock Bowen, David Majanja, Kimondo George Kanyi, Alfred Mabeya, Mwongo Mururu and Odunga George Vincent among others. Also appointed as high court judges are Prof Ngugi Mwaura who is teaching at a university in the US, Pauline Nyamweya who is a lecturer at the University of Nairobi, and Stella Mutuku who is currently the registrar at the East African Court of Justice. The youngest applicant who was hired by the JSC out of the 115 who applied for the jobs is 38 years old and the oldest is 66.
Meanwhile the commission appointed Gladys Boss Shollei who is currently deputy chief electoral officer at the Interim Independent Electoral Commission as the chief registrar of the judiciary. Shollei got the job after applying for three different posts in the judiciary. She first applied for the position of Deputy Chief Justice, then for the position of high court judge and finally that of chief registrar.
As the chief registrar Shollei will be responsible for the overall administration and management of the Judiciary. The post of chief registrar was introduced in the new constitution. It will replace the post of high court registrar which existed under the old constitution. She will also be tasked with the duty of administering the Judiciary fund and preparation of estimates of expenditure for the following year and submit them to the National Assembly. Taking her oath of office Shollei promised to serve Kenyans without bias towards any political or religious interests. The swearing in was conducted at Anniversary Towers and was witnessed by the Judicial Service Commission and her family members.