The search for Kenya’s next Chief Justice kicks-off this morning with Justice Chitembwe Said Juma set to face the interviewing panel beginning 9 am.
Chitembwe is among 10 candidates shortlisted by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC), from a list of 13 applications, to take over the mantle from retired Chief Justice David Maraga.
The shortlisted candidates are expected to spend about four hours before the panel, as they argue their case as to why they believe they are the most suited, in an exercise that will be held at the Supreme Court Buildings and which will come to a close on Friday April 23, 2021.
Prof Kameri Mbote will get her chance on Tuesday while Lady Justice Martha Koome will appear before the Commission on Wednesday.
Justice Marete Njagi will be interviewed on Thursday while lawyer Philip Murgor will appear before the Commission on Friday.
Employment and Labour Relations Court Justice Nduma Nderi, lawyer Fredrick Ngatia, Justice William Ouko, Prof Moni Wekesa and Alice Yano will appear before the Commission next week.
The Supreme Court is composed of seven judges comprising of the Chief Justice, who is the President of the Court and the Deputy Chief Justice who is also the Vice President of the Court.
Article 166 of the constitution provides guidelines for the appointment of the Chief Justice where the Judicial Service Commission selects one name for parliament’s vetting and approval.
Once the name gets parliament’s nod, it is then submitted to the president for formal appointment.
The Constitution provides that the appointment of the Chief Justice and other judges of the Supreme Court shall be from among persons who have at least fifteen years’ experience as a superior court judge; or at least fifteen years’ experience as a distinguished academic, judicial officer, legal practitioner or such experience in other relevant legal field.
The search for a new chief justice comes in the wake of proposals, as contained in the Constitutional Amendment Bill (2020), introducing a new office known as the Judicial Ombudsman.