The Acting Chief Justice Appointment

So the latest self inflicted crises in Jamaica is the decision of the PM to appoint Justice Brian Sykes as Acting Chief Justice vs the full position of Chief Justice.

The critics are contending that its wrong for the following reasons

  1. There is the vacancy for a permanent appointment
  2. The GOJ knew months in advance that this was coming and should have acted
  3. The PM is seeking to confer unto himself powers that are unconstitutional
  4. The PM is seeking to interfere with the judiciary given he has said ” performance will ultimately determine appointment”
  5. No one knows the performance criteria that will be used to ultimately determine full appointment
  6. Others

Points 1 to 2 are factual and really shows that the Prime Minister screwed up in not taking the time out to avail himself of the process required to ensure that Brian could have been permanently appointed vs this acting role.

This is really the crooks of the matter, its a mismanagement of the process and nothing else.

Everything outside of the above is a combination of hysteria, supposition, conjecture , what if’s, and personal views or interpretation which cannot be considered facts.


  1. The PM can recommend an appointment for full time CJ following the already stated guidelines
  2. The PM can recommend an acting appointment for CJ and this is where the problem comes in.

We have three issues to contend with related to #2

  1. The letter of the law ( what is written)
  2. The spirit of the law ( seeking to follow in intent of the law )
  3. The intent of the law ( one’s interpretation of what they believed the crafter of the law meant when it was being written in the first place)

The only one above that can be proven ie factual is # 1, but legal minds will tell you that in many cases all three can be relied upon to make a judgment, but from the point of view of purity, the letter of the law is the words of the law without interpretation and can stand on its own.

So the PM choose to follow number 1 and not 2 &3, but does that make his decision wrong or illegal , the answer is no, so what really is the issue.

From all I have read and heard, the issue appears to be the interpretation of some that the PM has put the Brian on probation and he has no authority to do so ,in addition he is breaking customs and traditions here in Jamaica.

In addition it  said that the PM is interfering with the process by the act appointing Brain to act vs a full time  job. It has also being said that the acting Chief Justice would not have been conferred with all the instruments of authority he needs to effectively function in his role and this could compromise the entire justice system.

That’s a frightening statement, because ,if for some reason in the future a Chief Justice has become incapacitated and cannot function, we run the risk of a collapse of the justice system, because we should NEVER appoint an acting Chief Justice given the stated concerns of fears expressed as in the present case.

The questions therefore is, had the previous CJ been incapacitated suddenly and Brian appointed in a acting role, would the question of interference with the judiciary arise as it has now ?

If the answer is no, then I go back to my first point, the only real issue on the table is the mismanagement of the Holness administration is sorting out the person to fill the role on a permanent basis and everything else is circumstantial and baseless.

That’s my none legal opinion

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