Magistrate serves temporary term

Valdis Foldats appointed for three months

Former Clerk of Court Valdis Foldats is temporarily serving as a full-time magistrate in the Summary Court, hearing criminal, traffic and civil matters.

Chief Justice Anthony Smellie confirmed that Mr. Foldats was appointed for three months, January through March. It is not an acting appointment, he explained, because no one else currently holds the position.

The post has been vacant since Grace Donalds concluded an extension to her contract, which was granted last year to enable her to complete part-heard cases (Caymanian Compass, 27 August). She had served since 1993.

Mr. Foldats, who has worked with the courts since May 1999, and served as acting magistrate on numerous occasions, completed his last contract in December 2010.

The magistrate’s post is expected to be advertised “any day now” by the Judicial and Legal Services Commission, after which a permanent appointment will be made, the chief justice indicated.

Until Cayman’s present Constitution came into effect in November 2009, magistrates were appointed by the Governor under the Summary Jurisdiction Law.

Under the new Constitution, the power to make the appointment still rests with the Governor, but adds “acting in accordance with the advice of the Judicial and Legal Services Commission”.

Commission members were appointed in August 2010. Chairman Dan Scott and Dara Flowers-Burke are the two members of the eight on the commission who do not have a legal background. The makeup of the commission is constitutionally specified and details that the chairman and one other member shall not be lawyers.

The chief justice said he had agreed with the Governor and the commission regarding the basis on which the recruitment process for a permanent appointment may proceed.

Cayman has had three magistrate posts since 1999. Margaret Ramsay-Hale, now chief magistrate, was appointed in 1998. Nova Hall was appointed in 1999.