The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) has said that they will immediately start the process of verifying the Chief Justice applications to ensure they meet qualifications before shortlisting candidates for interviews.
This is after the 21 day application period came to a close with a total of 13 top lawyers, legal scholars and judges engage in battle for the post of Chief Justice recently vacated by David Maraga, who retired last month.
JSC Secretary Ann Amadi said, “The commission will proceed to shortlist and publicize the list within 14 days as provided in the Judicial Service Act.
The commission is committed to upholding professionalism and integrity throughout the recruitment process.”
Court of Appeal president Justice William Ouko, Court of Appeal judge Martha Koome, High Court judge Said Chitembwe, Employment, and Labour Relations judge Mathew Nderi and Daniel Marete are among the applicants.
Also in the race are Senior Counsel Fred Ngatia, Philip Murgor, and Prof Patricia Mbote. Prof Otinga Mare, Prof Moni Wekesa, Alice Jepkoech, Otondi Ontweka, and Brian Matagaro are also seeking to be Kenya’s next Chief Justice. JSC also released names of nine seeking to replace retired Supreme Court judge Jackton Ojwang.
Alongside Court of Appeal judges Martha Koome and Kathurima M’Inoti, Justice Ouko has also applied for the Supreme Court judge position Justices Chitembwe, Nderi, Marete are also seeking the Supreme Court post. Others are High Court judge Joseph Sergon, Alice Jepkoech, and Dr. Lumumba Nyaberi.
According to Article 166 of the Constitution, the Chief Justice and a judge of the Supreme Court must have at least 15 years experience as a superior court judge or 15 years’ experience as a distinguished academic, judicial officer, legal practitioner, or such experience in another relevant legal field.
After interviews, one name will be selected and forwarded to President Uhuru Kenyatta for appointment after parliament’s approval.
From the judiciary, Justice Ouko is seen as a strong contender because of his position as president of the Court of Appeal and his long tenure in the judiciary.
From among the lawyers, Ngatia is viewed as a front runner due to his many years in legal service of 36 years.
Murgor, a former DPP, claims he is the best candidate given his independence and non-compromising character that got him sacked to become the shortest-serving DPP.
Focus shifts to JSC commissioners comprising of Justice Philomena Mwilu, Ms. Mercy Deche, Mohammed Warsame, David Majanja, AG Kihara Kariuki, Patrick Gichohi, Prof Olive Mugenda, Felix Koskei, Macharia Njeru, and Everline Olwande.