Ian Winder yesterday became the 14th chief justice in an independent Bahamas.
Winder, who took the oath of allegiance and received his instrument of appointment from Deputy to the Governor General Cynthia “Mother” Pratt, said he hopes to address many of the legacy issues afflicting courts in the country, including the mounting backlog of cases and the unreasonable delays in judgments.
He thanked Prime Minister Philip Davis and Opposition Leader Michael Pintard for their confidence in him and pledged to approach his role with the seriousness it deserves.
“I hope to bring a holistic approach to resolving the many challenges which we face,” he said during the short ceremony at Baha Mar.
“While the focus is on modernizing the system, we must also be conscious of the needs and conditions of our human resources.
“There is much human capital and talent across all levels of the judiciary. Together, we must find the solutions necessary to cure our many legacy challenges – challenges such as the mounting backlog of civil and criminal cases, disposition cycles which are too long, unreasonable delays in the delivery of civil judgments and the lengthy criminal trial process.
“These may be legacy problems but together the solutions can be found and public confidence in the judiciary strengthened.”
Winder said he hopes to use data to measure the performance of the courts.
“We will deploy scientific methodology and metrics to measure our performance as a judiciary rather than relying on incomplete data and anecdotal information,” he said.
“Such performance measurements will drive our decision-making. To this end, we must enhance our court administration and establish a statistics unit to ensure maximum and efficient use of our resources, both human and otherwise.”
Winder has served as a justice since July 1, 2014.
He was appointed judge of the Court of Appeal in the Turks and Caicos Islands in February 2, 2020.
He was a partner in Davis’ firm, Davis & Co., from 1998 to 2009.
He said yesterday that he was fortunate to study at the feet of Davis.
“For much of my private practice, I was fortunate to have been the second chair to one of the most brilliant, skillful and all-rounded lawyers in The Bahamas,” he said.
“The classic lawyer’s lawyer, he came from an era where senior lawyers got excitement in showing the ropes to younger lawyers. The Honorable Philip Davis, QC, was largely responsible for developing the lawyer I would become.”
Winder succeeds Sir Brian Moree, who was appointed chief justice in 2019. Sir Brian will serve as a judge in the Court of Appeal.
For his part, the prime minister praised Winder as a man of “formidable and rigorous intellect”.
“He is a deep and powerful thinker who brings to all his cases meticulously researched positions,” Davis said.
“He has an exemplary judicial temperament that points him to conclusions that are not only legally sound, but eminently fair and sensible conclusions that are conducive to practical applications in a real world context.
“Above all, Chief Justice Winder is a person with the utmost integrity and ethical propriety. He believes in doing things the right way, the honorable way.
“In Chief Justice Winder, our nation will have as the chief steward of the judicial sphere of government a man who can be relied upon to answer to no one but God, the law and dictates of his own conscience.”