The Judicial Service Commission is now fully constituted after high-stakes campaigns and court battles in the quest to form a team that will play a major role in the 2022 presidential election and search for a new Chief Justice.
President Uhuru Kenyatta has appointed Everlyne Olwande, the magistrates’ representative, to the commission for a period of five years.
JSC is expected to recommend to the president the names of possible replacements of retired Chief Justice David Maraga and retired Supreme Court Judge JB Ojwang.
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In a special gazette notice published on January 19, the president said he made the appointment based on powers conferred to him by the Constitution.
Olwande, a magistrate at the Limuru Law Courts, was elected by members of the Kenya Judges and Magistrates Association (KMJA) in December after beating four other contestants.
The position comes with powers to hire and fire judges or magistrates.
Olwande will join acting CJ Philomena Mwilu, Court of Appeal Judge Mohamed Warsame, Olive Mugenda, Patrick Gichohi, former Cabinet Secretary Felix Koskei and the Law Society of Kenya representative Macharia Njeru, in the commission that will vet candidates seeking to replace Maraga and Ojwang.
Olwande, who was promoted from a principal magistrate to a chief magistrate last year, is one of the candidates whose appointment to JSC was not delayed by issues such as court cases.
Interest in the commission started unfolding in 2018 when Justice Warsame was re-elected by judges in the same court but President Kenyatta forwarded his name to Parliament for vetting.
This angered JSC and an application was filed at the High Court where interim orders barring Members of Parliament from vetting the judge were issued.