Thursday, Jan 17, 2019
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Acting CJ says tenuous position creates a ‘tremendous challenge’

Acting Chief Justice Vera Watkins.

For the second time, an acting chief justice has presided over the ceremony to mark the Opening of the Legal Year.

And acting Chief Justice Vera Watkins, who has functioned as head of the judiciary since the untimely passing of Chief Justice Stephen Isaacs last August, said the uncertainty of her post made it difficult set an agenda for the year.

She said, “The indisputable fact is that while it may be so that I am sitting in this chair at this moment, I am not certain as to whether I will be sitting in this chair later on today.

Watkins continued: “I am not certain as to whether I will be sitting in this chair tomorrow morning, in the proverbial chair.

“As the result of the tenuous position in which I find myself, it may be a futile exercise to make any long-term plans for the judiciary.”

Former Chief Justice Sir Hartman Longley was sworn in as Court of Appeal President in December 2017. The late Isaacs acted as chief justice until he was confirmed as the chief justice in July 2018.

He was sworn in on August 10 and died two weeks later.

Watkins said, “The fact that there was no appointment of a chief justice for a period of eight months, together with the untimely passing of former Chief Justice Isaacs, has been a tremendous challenge, as it is difficult for the judiciary to make any long-term plans for the future.”

Bahamas Bar Association President Khalil Parker also addressed the “deleterious effect” of the acting appointment.

Parker said, “My Lady, you have the unenviable task of projecting aspirations for the year from a constitutional post which you have no way of knowing whether you will continue to hold tomorrow. During the past legal year, we suffered the national loss of our sitting chief justice, His Lordship the Honorable Chief Justice the late Mr. Stephen G. Isaacs, who was himself charged with the similarly unenviable task a year ago.”

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