By KHRISNA VIRGIL
Tribune Staff Reporter
PRIME Minister Perry Christie’s newest Queen’s Counsel appointments highlight the need for the process to rest solely with the head of the judiciary and free from “political interference”, prominent attorney Wayne Munroe said yesterday.
Mr Munroe was named yesterday among 11 lawyers who now have the right to use the initials “QC” behind their surnames and enjoy all the other rights and privileges reserved for members of the Inner Bar.
Mr Munroe told The Tribune that while he was honoured by the appointment, it is a matter that should be free of the prime minister’s influence.
The announcement of the new QC appointees, which included three Cabinet ministers, came in a press statement yesterday.
Deputy Prime Minister Philip “Brave” Davis, Attorney General Allyson Maynard-Gibson and State Legal Affairs Minister Damian Gomez were named in the announcement.
Lawyers Neville Smith, Anthony McKinney, Elliot Lockhart, Lester Mortimer, Maurice Glinton, FNM Senator Carl Bethel and former PLP Attorney General Alfred Sears were also appointed.
“In this profession,” Mr Munroe said, “a QC appointment is recognition that you are a leader. It further means that as an attorney, you can’t appear by yourself. I would now have to lead a junior. It is hard to say you should be grateful for it. This is an earned title.
“But with the appointment in mind I believe that we need to move to a different system. The prime minister should not drive it. The element of politics needs to be removed completely.
“This definitely needs to be reformed so that it is more driven by the merits of the profession. The chief justice should lead this process.
“QC’s often act as acting judges so certainly the chief justice would have a better view of who should (be appointed).”
Another new appointee agreed that the process is heavily steeped in politics.
Mr Glinton said it was that same element that prevented him from being appointed five years ago under a previous Ingraham administration.
He said: “I’m honoured, but there is a context to my appointment which is not shared by the other persons that appear on the list.
“Back in 2009 the then Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham took my name off the list. I sued him and I won in the Supreme Court. The attorney general appealed and the matter has been there ever since.
“So this might be a resolution to the matter. It’s an honour and you have to be respectful and accept the appointment in the spirit that it was tendered,” Mr Glinton said.
Meanwhile, Mr Gomez said the appointment has been a dream of his for the last 23 years. He added that all of the appointees were deserving having made significant contributions to jurisprudence and to the Bahamas’ legal practice.
Mr Lockhart added that while he was honoured, the appointment was not about him, but about the God he serves. He said he would continue to practice with integrity.
A statement from the Cabinet Office announcing the appointments yesterday said a new list of QCs is expected to be announced in the near future.