powers of the chief justice

Swaziland: Chief justice in stand-off with senior lawyer

ONE of Swaziland’s longest-serving attorneys has been banned by the chief justice from appearing in court or even lodging court papers. The chief justice says the attorney was in contempt of court because he disobeyed court orders to pay maintenance in a case where he was executor of an estate. Now the attorney has fired back, saying the move was unconstitutional and that he was denied a hearing: he wants the CJ investigated for misbehavior – and he wants to sue.

This is one of the most bizarre matters I have ever come across. First, it involves a decision by the chief justice of Swaziland effectively banning a lawyer from litigating in that country’s courts. And then, in response, the lawyer concerned has asked the minister of justice to convene an ad hoc committee to investigate whether the chief justice is guilty of serious misbehavior.

Kenya: Judicial Service Commission demands recusal of Supreme Court justices

IN an extraordinary move, Kenya’s judicial service commission has tried to persuade virtually all of that country’s top judges, from the chief justice down, to recuse themselves from hearing a matter involving the JSC. The commission argued that as this would disqualify the supreme court from hearing the matter, the decision of the lower court should stand as the final word.

THIS is the latest episode in a long-running dispute between Gladys Shollei and Kenya’s Judicial Service Commission. However, what might have started as a straightforward appeal became something quite different with an application by the JSC that virtually all the supreme court judges recuse themselves from considering the matter.

Namibia: Bending a little bit backwards

LAY litigant Ronald Somaeb was in over his head when he attacked the right of any Namibian judge to hear the case in which he was suing the chief justice: all judges would be thinking “about (their) boss, the chief justice” and would be biased in favour of the CJ, he said. Somaeb's efforts came to nothing, however, and his case has been dismissed as vexatious and frivolous.

In Namibia the challenge to the chief justice came from lay litigant Ronald Mosementla Somaeb. The first round of his fight with the judiciary concerned a house, owned by the bank, from which he was evicted.

In this case the high court noted, “It has been the practice of this court to bend a little bit backwards in order to accommodate genuine lay persons as justice is for all ….”

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