Categorized | National News

New CJ To be Appointed

Senior Justice Hartman Longley is being considered to succeed Sir Michael Barnett as chief justice of the Supreme Court when Sir Michael steps down at the end of October, the Bahama Journal has been reliably informed.

Sir Michael, who was appointed chief justice back in 2009, has decided to demit office because of health problems, Journal sources revealed.

Justice Longley, who currently serves as a senior justice in Grand Bahama, was first appointed to the bench of the Supreme Court in 1992.

He has also served as a justice of the Court of Appeal.

According to a top administration source, Justice Longley has been chosen because of his years of experience in the judiciary.

“Justice Longley is more senior on the bench than the current chief justice, a source from the Attorney General’s office told the Journal. “He has outstanding record and the government has full confidence in his ability to head the judiciary. In fact, Justice Longley stepped down from the high court in order to return to Supreme Court.”

Prior to his appointment to the bench, Sir Michael served as attorney general and minister of legal affairs from 2008 to 2009 in the Ingraham administration.

He was a longtime partner in the leading law firm Graham Thompson and Co.

During his time as chief justice, Sir Michael often admonished judges overseeing criminal matters to work more expeditiously to reduce the backlog of cases before the courts.

He also spoke out against growing public discontent with the judiciary over the granting of bail to persons charged with serious criminal offences.

“We are aware that the suggestion has been made at the highest levels to further curtail the discretion of justices to grant bail. This is healthy. We are not immune from criticism. But I believe it is important to remind persons of the principles relating to bail and to the fact that justices do not arbitrarily or capriciously grant bail without regard to these principles,” Sir Michael said while addressing the opening of the legal year this past January.

Back in 2011, Sir Michael and former Minister of National Security Tommy Turnquest went head to head after the former minister suggested that judges were too liberal in the granting of bail. The chief justice eventually labelled those remarks as “unfortunate.”

When contacted by the Journal yesterday about his pending departure from the bench, Sir Michael declined to comment and said he will make an announcement about his future when the time is right.
Regarding the appointment of Justice Longley as chief justice, Sir Michael again refused to comment and said any decision regarding an appointment to the Supreme Court is at the prime minister’s discretion.

Justice Longley could not be reached for comment.

Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Allyson Maynard-Gibson had been long rumoured to be replacing Sir Michael on the bench, with Journal sources reporting that she badly wants the position and has been campaigning for it for quite some time.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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