Former Chief Justice Sir Michael Barnett was sworn in as president of the Court of Appeal during a ceremony at Government House yesterday.
The position is appointed by the governor general on the recommendation of the prime minister after consultation with the leader of the opposition.
During the ceremony, Barnett extended his thanks to Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis, who was in attendance along with the governor general, members of the judiciary, members of Parliament and members of the opposition.
He also thanked his colleagues, particularly those at the law firm Graham Thompson, family members and friends.
“May I begin by thanking you, Mr. Prime Minister, for giving me the opportunity to serve in the capacity as president of the Court of Appeal,” he said.
“The words of encouragement are greatly appreciated.
“I would like to thank my colleagues in the judiciary, the Court of Appeal, the Supreme Court and the magistrates courts, for all of their help and support during my judicial career.
“Our work is a collective effort, and we can only succeed if we all work together.”
Barnett also took a moment to extend special gratitude to his wife, Camille Lady Barnett, president of the AIDS Foundation.
“But most especially, I thank Camille,” he said as he choked back tears.
“You believed in me more than I believed in myself…
“Without you I doubt that I could have achieved the success that I’ve achieved in my life.”
Barnett has previously served as president of the Bahamas Bar Association, chairman of the Industrial Relations Board, chairman of the Water and Sewerage Corporation, chairman of the Catholic Board of Education, attorney general, minister of legal affairs and chief justice, before becoming the acting Court of Appeal president in December.
As he highlighted Barnett’s achievements over the years, Minnis pointed to the need for talented Bahamians to help reform the country’s judiciary.
“I am pleased that Sir Michael Barnett, one of the nation’s most prominent jurists and a constitutional expert, has accepted the appointment as president of the Court of Appeal,” Minnis said.
He added, “Our country needs men and women of judicial character and temperament to serve throughout our judiciary, especially as it continues the work of judicial reform, inclusive of the reform of the criminal justice system.”
Minnis extended his congratulations “on behalf of the government and people of The Bahamas” and also took a moment to thank Lady Barnett for her service as well.
Barnett takes the place of the outgoing president, Sir Hartman Longley.