CJ warns of judicial threats

| 22/03/2012

P3220003 (230x300).jpg(CNS): Full speech now attached — Cayman’s chief justice warned of emerging threats to the independence of the regional judiciary during a presentation at a UCCI conference Thursday. Anthony Smellie said the trend towards extra-judicial bodies overseeing judges, such as Cayman’s Judicial Legal Services Commission (JLSC), had the potential to encroach on their autonomy and to have a negative influence on their impartiality. In a presentation that emphasised the importance of an independent judiciary to modern democracies, Smellie warned against complacency as he pointed to other encroachments, including the removal of the local legal aid budget under the edict of ‘nation building’ here in Cayman.

In a lunchtime presentation at the UCCI 50/50 conference in the Sir Vassel Hall, the Cayman Islands top judge warned that, despite the relative stability of the judiciary in the Caribbean, the independence of judges was under threat around the world and there was no room for complacency because there were examples very close to home that continued to threaten its impartiality.

He said an immediate and apparent danger was a “new kind of judicial control” which had the potential to intrude upon judicial insularity from external influences. He pointed to Cayman’s own JLSC, which he said was “in the midst of trying to unravel the Gordian knot” of disciplinary control of judges.

Smellie pointed out that where the trend for disciplinary control of judges had emerged, such as in the UK, Canada and the US, it was recognized that any such process should remain within the judiciary in order to maintain the important separation of powers between the legislature, the executive and the judiciary.

He said if the disciplinary regime is to be imposed from outside, the public was likely to question the ability of judges to remain impartial if it were to have a legal case regarding the external regulator.

The senior judge pointed out that the judiciary already had more oversight and checks and balances, because of the appellant system, than any other public office.  “Judges sit in the open glare of public scrutiny — scrutiny by the immediate parties involved and by the media on behalf of the public,” the chief justice told the UCCI conference audience. “It is no doubt also due to the fact that judges are amenable to having their decisions immediately reviewed by way of appeal.”

By the very nature of what they do, the chief justice said, judges are already accountable in many ways, “more accountable than the public officials of any other branch of government.” The chief justice explained that the separation of powers “contemplates that the judiciary will hold its members accountable to the law” through the powers of “appellate review and not through a process of inquisitorial oversight and sanction,” he added.

Smellie questioned if the trend of disciplinary control of judges was likely to be for the public good when it was weighed against the dangers to judicial independence and he said there were already dissenting voices in other jurisdictions. He pointed to the extraordinary dangers in small jurisdictions of the erosion of impartiality since it could invite dissatisfied litigants to harass judges who rule against them. And while the authorities may dismiss complaints based only on the merits of a decision, he pointed out that a review would still be required which may incline a judge to avoid rendering controversial decisions while the investigation ran its course

“Any disciplinary system that allows or encourages interested parties to strike out at judges is too great an interference with judicial impartiality to be tolerable under the doctrine of separation of powers,” Smellie warned, adding that no disciplinary system should be imposed that would interfere with a judges ability to be independent.

Smellie also spelt out the fundamental importance of an independent judiciary to uphold the law, the people’s rights and to facilitate business and economic stability. He said an independent judiciary was able to ensure “that powerful individuals must conform to the law” and that no one is either above or below the law. 

As well as the threat that judicial inpendence faced from the encroachment of the executive with extra-judicial disciplinary bodies, the chief justice pointed to the budget constraints that the judiciary faced around the region. He said that while Cayman was luckier than some jurisdictions where judges had to go to judicial ministers for approval of every penny they spent, its vulnerability to political control was illustrated by the recent diversion of the entire legal aid budget away from the courts “by way of ministerial edict” for “nation building purposes”.

Although he said that the money had now been re-instated, the chief justice described the move by the premier during the budget process in October 2009 in which he took control of the legal aid budget under his ministry.

“This was said to be justified in part out of a sense of political umbrage that the courts should not be spending money on expensive lawyers ‘to get criminals off the hook’. And this was although the lawyers are paid at the minimal rates prescribed by Cabinet itself,” he said, as he explained the move occurred despite the fact that the local courts are charged by law and under the constitution with the administration of justice.

Smellie explained that the delivery of legal aid is an essential part of that since most criminal defendants cannot afford to pay their own lawyers.

“While the position with legal aid has since been restored to the status quo ante, the episode certainly gave the impression that the political directorate did not regard the administration of justice as an important priority and did not understand the need for institutional independence of the judiciary as a vital aspect of its ability to administer justice," the chief justice said.

He warned that it was but one example of how the judiciary needed to be insulated from political control.

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  1. Anon says:

    I am grateful to you for having posted the speech delivered by the Hon Chief Justice. Having read it and reviewed the relevant sections of the 2009 C.I. Constitution, I am at a loss to identify the ‘knot’ that he has referred to.

    Section 106 of the Constitution clearly vests responsibility for disciplinary action in respect of judges in the Governor and not in the judiciary itself. To try to suggest that this is a ‘potential view’ may be an analgesic perspective with which the Hon. Chief Justice can find comfort but I fail to see how it can be anything more.

    I share the dissatisfaction with other posters with regard to the timing and forum chosen by the Hon. Chief Justice to convey his views on a document that was approved by the electorate, particularly when the C.I. Constitution Order 2009 was available in draft more than three (3) years ago. While his actions could be said to be contemptuous, I doubt that we will hear anyone from the legal fraternity publicly express that view.

    What I found most appalling, however, was the general attitude conveyed that the he was the guardian of “the independence of the judiciary” and that the Governor and the Judicial & Legal Services Commission (JLSC) established under the 2009 Constitution were suddenly an external threat to the preservation of this.

    If one considers the brief bios of the persons appointed to the JLSC by the current Governor, Mr. Duncan Taylor, one will quickly realize that four of eight members are serving or former judges, two currently hold positions that are senior to that of our Chief Justice and their combined tenure as judges of over 100 years is more than five times that of the Chief Justice who is now approaching 20 years.

    For example, Justice Edward Zacca, who is currently President of the Bermuda Court of Appeal became a member of the U.K. Privy Council (in September 1992) before the Hon. Chief Justice became a judge of our Grand Court. Certainly these distinguished gentlemen do not need to schooled in the virtues of “independence of the judiciary” not should it be inferred that they would contribute to its demise.


    • Anonymous says:

      Thank you, Donnie, for expressing so succinctly the views of many of us frustrated by the kow-towing to the "establishment" legal fraternity which is too prevalent in Cayman.

    • Anonymous says:

      It's a pity Mr Donnie's comment was posted at a time when it and the text of the Chief Justice's whingeing speech had slipped to the second page of CNS. His comments are of far more import than Mr Smellie's.

  2. Knot S Smart says:

    Why dont we just have a Public Defender appointed by a panel from the Judiciary and who is on a fixed salary?

    I dont see how it can be fair to the general society if people charged with offences can pick and choose which expensive Attorney or QC they wish to defend them, and then we must pay.

    If someone meets the criteria to receive legal aid then they should be defended by the Public Defender.

    • Anonymous says:

      I have no problem with the concept of a public defender. However, it might be a conflict of interest for the judges who hear the cases to appoint him. Under no circumstances should a politician be involved in this, however.  

    • Legal Seagull says:

      Public defenders provide a wholly inadequate service.

      • Anonymous says:

        Why on earth should the public have to pay so some possible criminal can have a top QC from London and argue appeals all the way to the Supreme Court?

  3. Annoymous says:

    The Chief Justice should stop and think for a minute about his commments above: "Anthony Smellie said the trend towards extra-judicial bodies overseeing judges, such as Cayman’s Judicial Legal Services Commission (JLSC), had the potential to encroach on their autonomy and to have a negative influence on their impartiality. "

    Does the Cheif Justice feel or think that he is ABOVE THE LAW?

    If that be the case, then it is time that the Governor steps in and changes the guard at this post.  Because if the Chief Justice thinks that he is going to mangle with our Constitution because he feels it's encroaching on the Judiciary's autonomy, then he should have thought about this long before now.  Clearly there was a problem with the Judiciary, and still is today.

    I have witnessed Caymanians that are in dire need of Legal Aid get their applications turned down left and right because with no real reason.  If they do by chance get it approved it has all kinds of restrictions on it such as 'for trial only' with no leverage for the representation on legal aid to really get out there and prepare a case for thier client.

    I also watched a foreign national (from up north) just this week being charged with theft supposedly up to a million dollars, and they was granted legal aid without any stipulations on their application.  Yes, he is a professional in a high ranking position and he is granted Legal Aid.

    So when the Chief Justice feels that he is running a smooth ship and there are no hiccups or any prejudices against people then maybe he can complain about the JLSC, and that's about all, because he can't do a thing about it unless we become a Communist, or we go Independant. 

    Stop this badgering of Commissions that are put in place to keep injustices from being dealt out to people in this country by the Judiciary.  It is time that we appreciate and understand that we have rights and even in Court we have rights and if they are infringed upon then we have the right to complain about it.

    The JLSC is located in the Government Building on Elgin Avenue.  Hand deliver all your complaints to them or call: 244-3686 for further assistance.

    Please note even if you have been found guilty of an offence and is sentenced, fined and you object to the way your case was handled either by your Lawyer or the Courts, you can document the evidence of such in your complaint and file it with all all your supporting documents etc.  This goes for even those in HMP Northward or Fairbanks.  You have rights even when you are incarcerated!


    • Anonymous says:

      It is interesting that the poster "the Chief Justice should stop…." levels charges of "prejudice" but does not stop  to think that he or she does not know the circumstances of the persons who were granted or refused legal aid.  Let us have some facts to support your charges, my friend, because when you make allegations that Caymanians are not being granted but foreigners are, you are beginning to sound pretty prejudicial, yourself.

      Another thing — the Chief Justice is not directing his comments at the law — but at the functioning of the law.

      And even if he were — sometimes we have to be constructively critical about laws, constitution, whatever, to bring about positive change.  So being critical per se is not an offence.

      And of course there is potential for encroaching on the independence of judges — we must always be aware of any potential in this direction — because this can boil down to an encroachment of rights of everyman who appears before the courts.

      Judicial independence is not about some airy fairy demand of the judiciary — it is about guarding the rights of every person in the Cayman Islands, and we should be very concerned about this as well.

    • Anonymous says:

      How is the Chief Justice suggesting that the Judiciary is "above the law"?

      having a body such as the JLSC gives undue influence to those with polictical ties. How can you not see how VERY dangerous this is? Imagine, a board made of individuals all appointed by the leader of a political party and head of government and then consider what impact this could have on the administration of justice. If you can't recognise how desperately wrong this could go well, I am just glad that you sir are not the one in charge.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Judges are human and therefore prone to error in judgement, they must be held accountable for error also.  Independence should not mean untouchable.  And by the way lets see them a little more proactive in amending the laws too.  I recently suggested a woman lawyer was incompetent, she threatened to charge me with 'insulting the modesty of a woman' I mean what?

    Seems that men do not have the same protection.  I still firmly believe she is incompetent, but apparently I have to keep that to myself!

    Many laws in Cayman are draconian and instead of speeches extolling the virtues of being a demi-god I would like to see the system overhauled.

    • Anonymous says:

      when has it ever been the responsibility ofthe judiciary to "amend laws". Why do people still believe that the courts and the judges write the laws in this country?  In the age of the internet, google and wikipedia this is just pathetic

  5. Anonymous says:

    I hope that the premier read this article. but i doubt that he will understand what he is saying. so get some of those advisers to explain what the CHIEF JUSTICE IS  SAYING. THE things that this man comes up with , it is plain that he must be eating some CAYMAN RUN DOWN before he go to bed in the night. do not take any advice from foolio on this one mr premier.  You did the right thing when you returned the legal aid budget the the judicial dept, even it two of your buddies  lost out on the jobs promise to them to run it

  6. Joe says:

    The Honourable chief justice has in fact touched on a very sensitive point I must admit. The separation of powers lies in the heart of democracy and a “free” (?) society. Just refer to the link below and decide.


  7. Anonymous says:

    The appeal system is a good check and balance BUT it is not always used especially when it is a sensitive personal matter.

    Official transcripts are required in ALL our courts to help ensure better rulings.  

    Mr CJ, why cant we have this?


    • Slowpoke says:

      While not a bad idea, do you have any idea of how many Court Reporters this would take and how much they make/cost?

  8. Cayman home says:

    XXXX I am a father who has never abandoned my daughter. I am there for her and I keep her most of the time. Her mother lives on the other end of the island and keeps her the same time, We have joint custodyand we share visitation. Yet the court tells me to my face that I must pay maintenance of 600 a month to my ex, despite I having my child live with me most of the time.  Such payment have effect the family I have now. I have taken it to court with no success, and the mother who has care and protection of the child and not me, can keep the child without my consent away from me, plus is receives maintenance, which I know is like alimony when she works in a well paid job!  I took this to the court and was viewed as a socalled "deadbeat father" and was scorned by the judge that if I truly loved my daughter, I would not bring "money" into it. "Pay the maintenance or else you will have to pay more!"

    So I have done like many other fathers out there. I have willfully accepted the corrupt system and refuse to see my daughter because of me having to double pay for her, bearing in mind I already have another family and children. When she is sick and is with me, the mother refuses to even contribute financially to assist me in buying medication for her daughter. Since the court came into our lives and business, I have been a slave to this maintanance law that doesn't apply to me. I believe maintenance should apply to those fathers who refuse to take care of their children or financially support them. But I do allof these things for mine, and yet I am slapped in the face and told I must pay the maintenance or "have to pay more."

    XXXXX  I love my daughter very much, but if I am unable to love her due to financial strain, how can I love her. It is better that I do not see her at all, which I know many men have done so and have been called deadbeat fathers.

    • Rod (been there, done that) says:

      I know when Judge Ramsey was here, she use to say, if you love the calf you will love the cow, because the cow has to take care of the calf. I think Judge Smellie would agree with such a statement. They don't care about your personal life and immediate family. It is all about the innocent child. They don't care about the other innocent children you have that you have to feed and take care of. Its been like that for donkey ages under UK laws. Women always get the upper hand in the english system when it comes to the maintenance of a baby or innocent child. In America the laws are a little different and there is more equality expressed. If I was in your shoes, I would visit my child but not have her live with me, and the visits will have to be affordable ones, seeing that the mother is not going to give you a dollar to help you with not even an emergency if you needed it for the child. It is simple, anything happens to her, just hand her back over to mother who has care and protection under the law. I would be pestering the mother day and night about care and protection. If she is doing other things with the money like nails and hair, let her enjoy the 600 bonus, you don't have to incur higher expenses on you and your other children. If you care for your daughter, you can always watch her mom under a radar on how she takes care of her, and if she does not like it – tough!  She is getting money from you, so let her pay for it!  If she slips and neglect the child, then you can take it to court, and have them deem her as an unfit mother. All I am saying is, you don't have to have the child and incur expenses on the family you have now, because that wouldn't be fair to them as well.  Balance 

      • Unison says:

        Well that's pretty much the smart thing he can do. Watch and monitor the affairs of his daughter from a distance. If they have joint custody and she has the care and control of her, he can merely keep a watch of how . But he will be fighting a losing battle if he should ever bring maintenance complaints to the court, and it doesn't make sense to fight for full custody, because the court will need to first prove that the mother is neglectful, mental, on drugs, or like you say, unfit. So if the mother is neither of these, he will be fighting a losing battle. It is better for him to have brief visits when he can. Spending quality time with your child, does not have to be length of time. You can spend one hour with your child and because it is quality time which you have given them your undivided attention, she will never forget it. It is good to know that this father has made attempts to see his daughter. I would say the dead beat ones are those fathers who make no attempt to spend quality time with their children and hold a grudge in their hearts over what "she" did to him. Dead beat fathers are immature and need to grow up and be a man. And not just picking on fathers, you have very immature, dead beat mothers as well. He also said to the effect that he loves his daughter,  how can he love his daughter if he can't love himself???  Excuse me!  You don't need money to love anyone! Being there and overseeing your daughter is loving action!  Why must parents feel that "getting" their kids things, is the only way to love them?  That is why the children are becoming more and more rude and indifferent, because of material things. Society is missing "tough love" as well, and no one is able to give "tough love" better than a father. So these fathers need to stop studying how unfair the system is and how they are treated, because fighting against the law, is just hurting the child and hurting yourself more. Put your trust in God and do what you can in your powers to make a difference for your family.

    • Anonymous says:

      Dear Sir,

      I am very pleased that you take care of your daughter, I have a daughter and her father doesn't even send a text to find out whether she is still alive and needs anything, he'd rather be in the clubs or chasing after young wh****, and if I was to ask him to do anything for her that involes spending a dollar, ha! the bartenders at a club or bar or his dogs vet would see that money first. I don't think its fair to you to have to pay if you do take and keep the child. The courts should always be in favor of the father if he is willing to take on the responsibility of being there for the child, I'd understand if it was that you had nothing to do with the child then yes you should pay but you soundas if you maintain the child while she stays with you and while she is with the mother, which is unfair. I wish my daughters dad could be more like you.

    • karen says:

      lol… good luck with finding fairness in the Cayman Islands

    • Anonymous says:

      What's this got to do with anything?

    • Anonymous says:

      It is about money if you would rather not see your daughter just because you have to pay child support for her.  You sound like my ex's brother who told his children that they can't have any juice out of his fridge cause he pays child support to their mother.  

  9. Anonymous says:

    Its a generic argument I have heard in all countries, if you are really so concerned about the integrity of the judicial system, make the system and all associated transactions transparent rather than create an insular wall to deter investigations to take place.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Look at the legal aid figure for the past 5 budgets and compare it to what the Government allocated this year, one will then see what the CJ is complaining about. The rubber is about to meet the road shortly as there will be no funding available to pay for legal aid in the last quarter of this fiscal year.

    • Anonymous says:

      I totally disagree with providing legal aid to criminals and there are a number of other individuals who make sure they apply for it, when they could at least make an effort to foot their bills.  Governments created the lean on me for everything system.  When they commit the crime they should be prepared to pay lawyer fees.

      This is one of the reasons for government defficits over the years.

      • Anonymous says:

        Innocent until proven guilty in a Court of Law. Just because you are arrested does not mean you are guilty, and everyone is entitled to a fair trial. It is the essence of a civilised society to ensure a fair legal system for all and that includes providing legal advice to any members of society who cannot afford a lawyer. So long as it is means-tested and fairly applied, legal aid is an essential tool. Does not always have to be free, it can be repaid over time by the recipients, all you need is a decent administrative system of assessing applicants and ensuring a system of repayment by those who can afford to pay all or some towards the bill. It is wrong to use term such as “giving money to criminals”, – I say again, innocent until proven guilty…in a Court of Law, after a fair trial, NOT after an interview in the police station…..or police car. By the way, having a lawyer present from the start of the process not only assists alleged offenders, it can also protect the police from false accusations by alledged offenders of underhanded techniques to extract confessions by officers etc. ……

  11. Will Ya Listen! says:

     "Judges should be insulated from political control"  – In Cayman?  Are you kidding? It's absolutely VITAL- just as long as Judges know that they CAN be replaced by proper process.

    Something is rotten in the state of Denmark. wrote Shakespeare .


    Something Smellie in the state of Cayman. Thank goodness. Good man.

    Just remember. Children's diapers and politicans should be changed regularly  – and for the same reason.



  12. Anonymous says:

    It seems to me from the JLSC’s website that it’s well past the stage of being “in the midst of trying to unravel the Gordian knot” of disciplinary control of judges. It seems to have already published both a code of conduct and a complaints procedure against judges. Is the Chief Justice aware of that? Is anyone?

    It also seems to me that the JLSC is simply doing what it’s required by the Constitution to do: draw up a complaints procedure and a code of conduct. Perhaps it’s the Constitution itself the Chief Justice has difficulties with? If so, he should say so. It hardly seems fair to blame the JLSC for doing its job.

    Oh and by the way, the whole point of the Gordian knot is that it never was unravelled. It was sliced through with a sword by Alexander the Great. Seems quite appropriate in the context.

    • Anonymous says:

      Anyone who actually heard the Chief Justice's presentation would understand that his concern is not about the Constitution itself. His concern, which was explained against the background of the history and importance of judicial independence, is the kind of power of discipline over the judges that the Governor may think he has been given by the Constitution. That is a matter that goes to the core of judicial independence and so should be a matter of real concern for all of us.

      As for your reference to "unravel[ling] the Gordion Knot", I am sure everyone is aware of the phase in which we are — the question is: do we truly appreciate where we are headed?

      • Anonymous says:

        I believe it would be improper for the Chief Justice to be criticising the Constitution if that was his intention. The Constution is the highest law of the land. His job is to interpret and apply it. That is all.  

        The existence of the Commission has actually lessened the Governor's role, not increased it.   

  13. Anonymous says:

    Great speech sir, and very timely in view of recent events here.   The independence of the judiciary must in no way, shape or form be undermined, influenced, subverted or encroached upon, as it is lifeblood of a true democracy.   It is vital to ensure that power is not abused and that all are treated equally, both the little man and the powerful man, in the eyes of the law.  Those trying to undermine this independence are bent on their own agendas, and such attempts must be fought vigorously so that we do not end up being a full-blown banana republic.   We are already looking like one, as it is, and the only thing that can bring us back from the brink, is a fully independent judiciary that dispense justice without fear or favor.  Also extremely critical to the proper functioning of a democratic society, is a capable, qualified, properly trained and equipped police force, and let us not forget, independent media houses who practice true, professional journalism and who do not bow to any powerful, wealthy entity(ies) who threaten to pull the plug on advertising contracts if the news media print certain things that are not considered to be in the entity's best interests.  Finally, last but not least, being an OTC of the U.K., we need our U.K Representative(s) to step up and act to enforce good governance, accountability and transparency, and not just pay lip service to it.    If a good example is not set starting from the top, and justice is dispensed no matter who the individual is, whether powerful or the ordinary man, then the whole system will simply decay further and rot away to the point of no return.

  14. Anonymous says:

    I fail to see how the existence of the JLSC can be any greater threat to judicial independence than the Governor alone making these decisions. Given the drawn out process of the Levers Tribunal this is definitely an improvement.  

  15. Anonymous says:

    I’m sorry but I must be missing something here. Isn’t the CJ referencingan oversight body established under the constitution? Is he complaining about the function of that body which has it’s mandate under the constitution?! If that is the case then the CJ would be out of line. It makes one question how he would handle matters before him which are submitted on the basis of the constitution if he would be so bold as to attend a public function and openly criticize a commission for merely fulfilling their mandate and their duties under the constitution. It seems to suggest that he is at odds with his oversight body and he has chosen this venue, where visitors from overseas were in attendance, to air his grievances. This is also bad timing in view of what appears to be a fresh complaints proceedure and a code of conduct for judges recently posted by the JLSC. It’s is most unfortunate that a man with such a distinguished career would make such an error in judgement. Given that I know the CJ can be sensititve to any form of criticism I hope my own comments will not be censored. The bench seems to be a quality one due in no small part to the JlSC. I hope they and the CJ can iron out their differences or at least the CJ can come to terms with our constitution. I wish the CJ all the best and hope he rethinks this path.

    • Anonymous says:

      The Chief Justice was not directing his comments to Contitution — it was with regard to the role of a body, constituted or not — how it functions.  Surely we can separate the two concepts. 

      The Premier's role is enshrined under the Constitution, but that does not mean that we cannot or should not be constructively critical of the role of such an individual.

      As Chief Justice, he is demonstrating courage in speaking to an issue that should be of concern to everyone Caymanian and other residents — judicial independence.

      When I go into court, I want to feel that the judge or magistrate who has my future and possibly freedom in his hands is unfettered by any interests that could intrude upon the outcome of my case.

      Clearly the Chief Justice was concernced about the interest of the people who come before him — that is what judicial independence is all about — the ability of the judge to make impartial judgements of your case and mine.

      • Anonymous says:

        to: "The Chief Justice was not…"

        THANK GOD IN HEAVEN! Someone who actually understands what the CJ was saying in his address. Since the it seems the majority of people making comments have missed the point entirely and failed to read both the CNS article and the speech in it's entirety, maybe you could mock up an infographic or something for them. Then people would understand that the CJ actually has the good of the people of this country at heart.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Yes what qualifies glorified 'bean counters' to oversee the judiciary, as well as persons who are not experienced in the law ?

  17. Anonymous says:

    In the past, CNS has (understandably perhaps) proved very very reluctant to print criticism of the Judiciary's -especially Mr Smellie's -views on things ( "scandalizing the courts" we're asked to believe it is) and on occasions has removed posts leaving one to assume there was a protest from the Bench about them. They are a difficult bunch who do not want ANYONE to have anything to do with them, including salaries, benefits, pensions, retirement dates, contracts and appointments. XXXX The JLSC is a sound body which will make these checks. He's right about Legal Aid, though.

  18. Anonymous says:

    There is plenty of room to discuss whether legal aid is properly administered only by the judiciary and whether it is a threat to the judiciary's independence to have some other body or official administer legal aid.. Moreover the justice is incorrect that the judiciary is only disciplined by the judiciary in the US. The legislative branch in fact has the power of removal of US judges, and the judiciary's disciplinary powers are limited to suspension. Lately, a judge was removed by the governor soit seems that Cayman too has ultimate non-judicial control of the judiciary, as it should.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes and No.   In the case where the local judge was removed by the Governor, it was AFTER several complaints were made by both affected defendants and members of the judicial system who felt the judge was abusing the powers granted to that individual.  So Chief Justice is correct in saying that the justice system has within its own means a way to discipline its own members – although it may ultimately involve a high official such as the Governor (or his counterpart in other countries), to effect the actual removal or suspension of a judge.   In other words, there has to be some grounds / justified complaint / appeal, etc. lodged by those affected by a judge's arbitrary actions and/or members of the judiciary who feel that the judge may have overstepped their authority.