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JSC allows Mugenda to chair panel to pick next Chief Justice amid protests

By Jacinta Mutura | April 12th 2021

Registrar to the Judiciary Anne Amadi at the Supreme Court on the process Judiciary Service Commission will undertake to interview potential candidates for the CJ post. [Denish Ochieng, Standard]

The Judicial Service Commission has allowed all nine commissioners to sit on the panel for the Chief Justice’s recruitment despite protests over legality of some members.

Judiciary Chief Registrar, who doubles as the secretary to the commission Anne Amadi, said nothing bars the members from participating in the interviewing process in the search for a Chief Justice.

Senior Counsel Philip Murgor, one of the CJ applicants, had written a letter to the JSC seeking to have the acting Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu stopped from sitting in the interview panel.

He claimed that there might be bias and favoritism for some candidates seeking to succeed retired CJ David Maraga.

Murgor had claimed that Mwilu’s professional relationship with an advocate who is among the candidates would be a conflict of interest.

“The vice chair will chair the interview and all the commissioners will sit in the interviewing process,” said Amadi during a press briefing.

A petition by Samuel Gateri to the commission sought to have Mwilu declared the substantive chairperson of the commission, being the acting CJ as stipulated in the Judicial Service Act.

In his letter Gateri stated: “There may be a ploy by the commission to designate the interim vice chair Prof Olive Mugenda to be the chair in absence of the chief justice.”

However, Amadi noted that the interviews would be chaired by Mugenda.

“The only thing that can stop a commissioner from participating is probably a court order or a commissioner’s choice not sit on the panel,” said the registrar.

The two-week interviews in search of a new CJ and a judge of the Supreme Court kick off today at 9am with Justice Juma Chitembwe being the first candidate to face the panelists.

Other candidates are Lady Justice Martha Koome, Justice Marete Njagi, Philip Kipchirchi Murgor, Kameri Mbote, Justice Nduma Nderi, Senior Counsel Fredrick Ngatia, William Ouko, Moni Wekesa and Alice Jepkoech.  

Out of 133 applicants, only 10 met the minimum statutory requirements for the CJ position.

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