Chief Justice Brian Moree paid tribute to two retiring judges during the ceremony to mark the opening of the legal year on Wednesday.
Court of Appeal President Sir Hartman Longley and Senior Justice Vera Watkins, who served as acting chief justice for 10 months after Chief Justice Stephen Isaacs died in office, are both on pre-retirement leave.
The retiring justices were not present at the ceremony. Moree said that Longley was off the island; however, he did not explain Watkins’ absence.
Moree said both judges declined his invitation to hold special sittings of the court to recognize their retirement.
He said, “For those of us who know them, that is disappointing but not surprising given their humble and private lifestyles. I direct that it be recorded in the annals of this court, the judiciary’s recognition and appreciation of the long and distinguished service of Sir Hartman G. Longley, KT and Senior Justice Vera S. Watkins.”
Moree credited Watkins with providing the judiciary with “much needed stability and continuity in the aftermath of the untimely death of former Chief Justice Stephen Isaacs”.
Moree described Longley as “one of our most accomplished and distinguished jurists having served as the head of three levels of our court system: chief magistrate, chief justice and president of the Court of Appeal.”
Moree continued, “His humble and quiet demeanor is the perfect temperament for a judge and he is the quintessential personification of the ideal judge described by Socrates who hears courteously; answers wisely; considers soberly; and decides impartially.”