Former Chancellor Bernard decries shortage of Judges; urges Gov’t to reduce pressure

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By Kurt Campbell

[www.inewsguyana.com] – Former Chancellor of the Judiciary and first woman Judge of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) Madam Desiree Bernard has called on the Guyana Government to immediately find ways to reduce the pressure on what she says is a very small quota of judges if the judicial system is to achieve its objective in Guyana.

Madam Bernard believes there is dire need to increase the quota of judges so that Courts can perform its primary function effectively. She said this has led to increased litigations and a decrease in the completion of cases.

She recalled that in May 2001, at a special sitting of the Full Court of the Supreme Court of Guyana to welcome her as Chancellor and the current Chancellor Justice Carl Singh as the Chief Justice, she had made similar pleas.

“It’s a request that has been lingering for 10 to 12 years now and I urge that this request be given attention to,” she said.

Bernard was at the time speaking at a special sitting of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) on Wednesday (February 19) in Guyana to mark her retirement. According to her, Chancellor Singh must be commended for reducing the huge backlog of cases and “performing miracles” with the limited number of judges at his disposal.

“The complement has not been increased over several years and this is a result of the inability to attract members of profession to the judicial bench,” Bernard said, adding that “it is never easy to persuade lawyers who crave their lucrative practice for prestigious judicial offers with reduced emoluments.”

Only recently another former Chancellor of the Judiciary, retired Justice Cecil Kennard was reported in one section of the media as saying that the appointment of too many young Magistrates and Judges to the bench can be blamed for the current backlog of cases and slothfulness of the justice system.

According to Kennard, some Magistrates are intimidated by the possibility of an appeal of their decision, and as such, take long to make a decision, pointing out that some of them are somewhat tardy in their work.

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