Justice William Ouko faces JSC panel for CJ post

Written By: Claire Wanja

Justice William Ouko arriving at the Supreme Court to be interviewed for the position of the Chief Justice.

The search for the Country’s Chief Justice enters day eight Wednesday with current President of the Court of Appeal Hon. Justice Ouko William Okello appearing before the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) panel.

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Justice Ouko was born in 1961 in Siaya County and holds the following academic and professional qualifications:

  • Master of Arts in Criminology & Criminal Justice from Egerton University (2016)
  • Bachelor of Laws from the University of Nairobi (1986)
  • Post Graduate Diploma in Law from the Kenya School of Law (1987)
  • Admitted to the Roll of Advocates in1987

The Hon. Judge has an aggregate of 33 years experience in the legal profession:

  • President of the Court of Appeal, 2018 to date
  • Appointed as Judge of the Court of Appeal in 2012
  • Appointed as Judge of the High Court in 2004. Served in Malindi, Meru and Nakuru (2004 – 2012)
  • Registrar, High Court of Kenya (2002 -2004)
  • Chief Court Administrator (1997 – 2002)
  • Deputy Registrar, Senior Deputy Registrar and Principal Deputy Registrar (1990 – 1997)
  • District Magistrate II (Professional) (1987 -1989)
  • Advocate at Mbogholi Msagha and Company Advocates (1987)
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The JSC is grilling the candidates for the position of Chief Justice and nine others for the position of Supreme Court Judge in a process that will end later this month.

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Applicants interviewed so far include Justice Chitembwe Juma, Professor Patricia Kameri- Mbote, Lady Justice Martha Koome, Justice Marete Njagi, Senior Counsel Philip Murgor, Justice Nduma Mathews Nderi and Senior Counsel Fred Ngatia

All the 10 JSC commissioners – Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu (Supreme Court), Justice Mohamed Warsame (Court of Appeal), Justice David Majanja (High Court), Ms Olwande (Chief Magistrates Court), Macharia Njeru (Law Society of Kenya), Ms Ann Amadi (Judiciary Registrar), Mr Kihara Kariuki (Attorney General), Patrick Gichohi (Public Service Commission), Mr Felix Koskei (public representative) and Prof Olive Mugenda (public representative) – are presiding over the selection process.

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The JSC Act stipulates that the process of recruiting a Chief Justice should be conducted transparently while factoring in the issues of gender, age, experience and regional balance, key elements that will determine who will form the next bench.

The Chief Justice is formally appointed by the President but is selected by the Judicial Service Commission in a competitive process and interviews.

The CJ must have at least 15 years as a legal practitioner.

Maraga, exited office on attaining the mandatory retirement age of 70 and handed over the instruments of power to Mwilu who is holding the position on an acting capacity until a substantive Chief Justice is appointed.

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The Commission will interview the shortlisted persons before recommending a candidate for appointment by the President subject to approval by the National Assembly as provided for under Article 166 (1) of the Constitution.

Article 167 (2) caps the tenure of Chief Justice at ten years but the holder of the office is required to exit office regardless of attaining the mandatory retirement age outlined in Article 167 (1).

The new Chief Justice will be Kenya’s 15 and third under the 2010 Constitution.

Thursday, April 22, 2021, will see Professor Wekesa Moni an associate Professor at Daystar University appearing before the Prof Olive Mugenda led commission to defend his suitability.

The last to appear before the JSC panel on Friday, April 23, 2021, is lawyer Alice Yano who was born in 1968 in Elgeyo Marakwet County.

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