By LAMECH JOHNSON
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE president of the Bahamas Bar Association yesterday called for gender equality in the future appointments of lawyers to the position of Queen’s Counsel.
Elsworth Johnson made the remarks at the 2015 Legal Year opening ceremony during his report to outgoing Chief Justice Sir Michael Barnett. This follows on the heels of the government announcing 11 new QC appointments, which included Deputy Prime Minister Philip “Brave” Davis, Attorney General Allyson Maynard-Gibson and State Legal Affairs Minister Damian Gomez.
Mr Johnson had previously told The Tribune there was an urgent need for QC selections to be left at the discretion of an independent panel, which he raised again in yesterday’s proceedings.
“With your leave m’lord, I extend congratulations to the new appointees of the Inner Bar,” Mr Johnson said.
“But I also wish to echo concerns of our members, the time has come for the reformation of the appointment process for Queen’s Counsel with a view to eliminating what appears to be a new influence by way of secret sounding and improper government or political hacking.”
“Finally m‘lord, it is very important that future appointments to the office of the Queen’s Counsel appear to be gender neutral and recognise the distinguished contributions, accomplishments and intellectual abilities of our female members of the Bar.”
Mrs Maynard-Gibson, who told The Tribune that she is still “humbled by the honour that has been afforded to me”, responded to the concerns.
“Let me first recognise that the privilege of appointment isn’t mine,” she said.
“I have already expressed that I’m sure that the prime minister has already indicated it is expected in short order he’ll be making further appointments. And I’m as confident as I can be, since it’s not my honour to make appointments, that there will be other women in that class of QCs,” she added.
Lawyers Neville Smith, Wayne Munroe, Anthony McKinney, Elliot Lockhart, Lester Mortimer, Maurice Glinton, FNM Senator Carl Bethel and former PLP Attorney General Alfred Sears were also appointed last week.
The announcement attracted criticism from Mr Munroe who called for the QC process to be free from “political interference”.