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Fida roots for the youngest applicant for top Judiciary job

By Paul Ogemba | April 7th 2021
Lawyer Alice Yano (center). [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

Lawyer Alice Jepkoech Yano might pass as the little-known applicant for the position of Chief Justice and Judge of the Supreme Court.

She is the youngest of the 10 candidates seeking to replace Justice David Maraga.

But the 53-year-old senior partner and proprietor of Yano and Company Advocates has a wealth of experience that saw her serve as commissioner in the defunct Constitution of Kenya Review Commission.

Yano might have also not been involved in precedent-setting and landmark cases, and is not a flashy city lawyer with a big office, a chain of big clients and top bureaucrats seeking her legal counsel.

Five samples

Based on five samples of her writings she submitted to the Judicial Service Commission (JSC), Yano mostly handles cases in Kajiado County, with her law firm located in Kitengela along the Nairobi-Namanga Highway.

Despite the lack of vibrancy and big cases under her name, the Federation of Women Lawyers (Fida-Kenya) says Yano is one of the strong female candidates they are banking on to become the first female CJ in the country.

“She has over 25 years of legal practice and served as a commissioner of the Constitution of Kenya Review Commission (CKRC). What is remarkable is the depth and breadth of her legal expertise, public service leadership and commitment to legal profession and the country,” said Fida.

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According to Fida, the exceptional calibre of the female candidates, including Yano, should make the JSC consider them for the CJ’s position.

Yano is the youngest and least experienced compared with the other candidates and hers will be like a David versus Goliath battle to convince the JSC panel on April 23 that she is the most suitable, competent and deserving candidate to take over from Justice (Rtd) Maraga.

Born in 1968 in Elgeyo Marakwet County, Yano graduated from the University of Nairobi with a Bachelors of Law degree in 1993 before she proceeded to the Kenya School of Law for post-graduate diploma in law in 1994.

She was admitted to the roll of advocates in 1995 and currently is pursuing a Masters degree in business administration at Nazarene University.

Legal adviser

Yano started off as a legal adviser at the Kenya Industrial Estate Limited before opening her law firm in 1995 where she is the proprietor to date.

She was a commissioner at the Prof Yash Pal Ghai-led CKRC from 2000 to2006 and acted as the County Attorney for the County Government of Elgeyo Marakwet between 2013 and 2014.

In her list of writings to support her application for CJ position, Yano attached her pleadings on behalf of a security officer charged at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) court with misusing the airport security permit to allow unauthorised person access the airport.

Her submissions were that the man was framed since he was not on duty at the time the stranger was allowed to access the airport.

Her second cited writing was submissions in court to defend four men who were charged with vandalism and damaging underground electric copper cables at the Export Processing Zone in Athi River within Machakos County.

She also presented the 2017 election petition against Kajiado West MP George Sunkuya which she successfully argued and helped the legislator retain his seat.

Yano’s last cited piece of writing involves a case where she represented the widow of a man who was killed in a road accident by a careless driver and was seeking compensation.

She is scheduled to be the last candidates to be interviewed before the JSC commissioners retreat to make a decision on the choice of the next CJ, who will also be the president of the Supreme Court and head of the Judiciary.

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