Chief Magistrate among 10 recommended as Puisne Judges

The content originally appeared on: INews Guyana

With the aim of increasing the complement of puisne judges to help tackle the huge backlog of cases in the High Court, the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) has recommended 10 new appointments in the Supreme Court of the Judicature.

Based on information from a reliable source, this publication understands that among those to be appointed to the top judicial post is Chief Magistrate Sherdel Isaacs-Marcus.

Magistrates Peter Hugh, who is currently stationed in the Berbice Magisterial District, and Zamilla Ally-Seepaul, who is at the Leonora Magistrates’ Court, are also on the list.

Deputy Solicitor General, Deborah Kumar, and Commissioners of Title and Judges of the Land Court, Nicola Pierre and Priscilla Chandra-Hanif, were recommended to be appointed as puisne judges.

Also on the list are Head of Legal Department (Deputy-Commissioner) at the Guyana Revenue Authority, Hessaun Yasin, and GRA’s Deputy Commissioner Inland Revenue – International Taxation Law, Joy Persaud along with Secretary to Guyana Water Incorporated (GWI) Board, Nigel Niles.

In addition, Guyanese-born High Court judge at the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, Justice Jacquiline Josiah Graham, has also been named by the JSC for appointment.

For the Supreme Court of Judicature, which consists of the High Courts in each of the three counties and the Court of Appeal, the JSC has been looking to appoint Puisne Judges, Commissioners of Title (Land Court Judges), and a Deputy Registrar for the High Court in Berbice.

Back in January, Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister, Anil Nandlall, S.C., had disclosed that at least nine Puisne Judges were going to be appointed in the High Court this year along with two Commissioners of Title and six Justices of Appeal.

Earlier this month, three new Commissioners of Title, who will be posted to serve in the Land Courts at Berbice, Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne) and at Suddie, Region Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam) were sworn-in. The newly appointed Land Court Judges selected by the JSC are Magistrate Renita Singh, Magistrate Esther Sam, and Magistrate Christel Lambert.

During his presentation in the 2024 Budget debates back in January, Nandlall had disclosed that at least 10 Magistrates will be appointed this year, bringing the total magistrates to 29. Additionally, the Legal Affairs Minister had also announced that new posts have also been created within the magistracy to accommodate for the large intake of cases. One of these new posts that were created is that of Deputy Chief Magistrate.New magistrates

Already, nine new magistrates have been sworn-in back in February: Tuanna Hardy, Teriq Mohammed, Abigail Gibbs, Tamieka Clarke, Orinthia Schmidt, Shivani Lalaram, Michelle Matthias, Omadatt Chandan, and Ravindra Mohabir.

AG Nandlall had noted that the reconstitution of the Judicial Service Commission in July 2023 paved the way for these critical judicial appointments to be made.

The new JSC was appointed by President Dr. Irfaan Ali on July 14, 2023. The Commission members are Chancellor of the Judiciary (ag), Justice Yonette Cummings-Edwards; Chief Justice (ag), Roxane George; Chairman of the Public Service Commission (PSC), Manniram Prashad; Retired Justice Carl Singh and Retired Justice Beasraj Singh (BS) Roy. The Chancellor sits as Chairman of the Commission.

The JSC is a constitutional body responsible for handling matters related to the appointment, discipline, removal, and promotion of judicial officers, including Judges and Magistrates.Following its appointment, the Commission late last year published vacancies to fill the personnel gaps within the Judiciary and magistracy.Justice Cummings-Edwards disclosed in January that the JSC had begun the interviews for these vacant positions.

The JSC was appointed last year after a six-year hiatus, and the acting Chancellor had said the Judiciary was “deeply grateful” to the Head of State for reconvening this very important Commission to help the court in the discharge of its functions.

Since the reformation of the JSC, Justice Cummings-Edwards said, its members have been tackling the backlog in cases and staff matters.“It is obvious that after an absence of the Commission, there would have been lots of outstanding work. The members have been working assiduously to build the secretariat and to create positions for the better functioning of the Judiciary,” she had explained.

Based on the Constitution, a Puisne Judge shall hold office until he/she attains 65 years, and the basic salary for this position is $1,425,065 monthly, along with allowances. A Land Court Judge holds office until he/she reaches 55, and is paid $1,167,923 monthly, together with allowances.A Magistrate shall hold office until he/she attains the age of 55. Salary and benefits include a total basic salary of $880,885 per month plus allowances. The Deputy Registrar will remain in office until the age of 55. The position’s total base pay is $754,284 a month and also includes allowances.

Persons appointed will be required to serve a probationary period of at least six months. On satisfactory completion of the period of probation, the appointees will be confirmed.

Reports state that an additional advertisement will be made for Appeal Court Judges, of which there are now just three in office, despite the law providing for nine.