You’re bullying judges, Mutunga tells lawyers
The bench yesterday turned the spotlight on the bar... after months of condemnation of judges over their past. Chief Justice Willy Mutunga accused lawyers of harassing judges and using "bullying tactics" to get their way in courts. Mutunga said it is time the conduct of most of Kenya's lawyers comes under scrutiny as a continuation of the reforms in the judiciary.
He urged lawyers to support their judiciary in its effort to earn public confidence. He was addressing lawyers attending the Law Society of Kenya annual conference at the Leisure Lodge Beach Resort in Mombasa on Friday. Mutunga said lawyers have been "hiding under the cover of litigants" and presenting complaints to the Judges and Magistrates Vetting Board.
The vetting board has in the recent months sacked several judges based on complaints received from the public. “Advocates cheered on as the vetting board made its determinations. The bar must accept that this is the new standard of accountability Kenyans require is both for itself and the greater public service in the country,” he said.
“I am reminded of the Swahili proverb – Nyani haoni kundule!. It is not acceptable that advocates should resort to bullying tactics in their zeal for their clients and subsequent fees. The vetting process cannot and must not be used as a tactic of advocacy to exercise control over judicial officers.” In his over 20-page speech, Mutunga said a large number of the complaints against judges showing up before the vetting board come from advocates, the LSK and its various chapters across the country. He said many judges and magistrates are dedicated to serve the country yet they work under difficult conditions.
“Lawyers should be the last group of people to use the pretext of vetting to harass and intimidate them. This would not only be an adulteration of the process, but also a subversion of the course of justice. I have asked judges and magistrates not to entertain and succumb to this abhorrent conduct. Your membership must also be asked to cease it!,” Mutunga added.