Cayman seeking Grand Court Judge

Advertisements will be posted in
the near future for a new Grand Court judge, the chairman of Cayman’s new
Judicial and Legal Services Commission confirmed this week.

Precisely how the selection process
will work for the replacement of former Justice Priya Levers isn’t sure yet,
but commission chairman Dan Scott said it was likely that a subcommittee of
commission members and some other individuals would be formed to consider all applications
for the position.

The final recommendations for the
new judge will be made to Governor Duncan Taylor by the commission members –
not Chief Justice Anthony Smellie, Mr. Scott said.

However, Mr. Scott said he
envisioned that Mr. Smellie’s input would be sought and even intimated that the
chief justice could be included on the commission’s interview subcommittee.

“I would anticipate…we would look
to the chief justice for his views at some point in time if we are looking to
appoint a judge,” Mr. Scott said.

The commission is breaking new
ground in the Cayman Islands, where judges and magistrates previously were
appointed by the governor acting on his discretion – typically with advice from
the chief justice.

Now, judicial appointments – as
well as those for other legal offices, including attorney general and director
of public prosecutions – must be vetted by the independent commission. The
eight-person body consists of six appointees with extensive judicial or legal
background and two lay people, including the chairman, Mr. Scott.

“This adds another layer to the
process, but it is a good layer,” Mr. Scott said. “It’s an opportunity to enhance
public confidence in the process.”

In addition to seeking a new Grand
Court judge, Mr. Scott said members of the Judicial and Legal Services
Commission are working on a code of conduct for judges. The code would govern
public behaviour and personal conduct on the bench, not how a judge should rule
on cases in matters of law, Mr. Scott said.

Also, the group is working on a
process that would allow members of the public to make complaints through the
commission. In the future, Mr. Scott said, those matters would not have to come
“from an official channel”.

Both the code of conduct and the
complaints form are expected to be published on the Judicial and Legal Services
Commission’s website in the coming months.

New magistrate?

Although it has been reported that
magistrate Grace Donalds’ contract would not be renewed by the governor, Mr.
Scott said he was not yet certain about the replacement process for Mrs.

A statement from the governor’s
office to the Caymanian Compass last week indicated that Mrs. Donalds had been
granted an extension to allow her to finish her current Summary Court cases.
The statement did not specify how long that extension might last.

The governor’s office gave no
reason why Mrs. Donalds’ contract was not renewed, although it did point out
that she had already been given one two-year contract beyond the typical
retirement age of 60.

Mr. Scott said Tuesday that he had
not been informed regarding Mrs. Donalds’ current status.