By LAMECH JOHNSON
Tribune Staff Reporter
SUPREME Court judge Justice Rhonda Bain, who reached retirement age last week, had her tenure extended for another year, The Tribune understands.
At January’s opening ceremony for the new legal year, Chief Justice Sir Hartman Longley announced that he and Justice Bain would reach the mandatory retirement age in February and April this year. On February 8, the Cabinet office announced that Sir Hartman’s application for a two-year extension on the Bench had been granted. He also told the Bar that Justice Bain, whose term ended this month, had also applied for a two-year extension. But up to that time nothing had been heard from her application.
Justice Roger Gomez, who requested and was given a two-month extension in November, also retired from the bench on January 25.
Although Justice Bain had applied for a two-year extension, she was only granted a year on Monday.
On February 8, a statement issued by the Cabinet Office noted that in accordance with Article 96 (1) of the Constitution, Governor-General Dame Marguerite Pindling, acting on the recommendation of Prime Minister Perry Christie, after consultation with the Leader of the Opposition Loretta Butler-Turner, extended Sir Hartman’s appointment.
There was no mention of Justice Bain’s application in the communication at the time.
A day before, Justice Bain had dismissed Mr Christie’s “no merit” recusal application which argued that she, while awaiting an approval of her application to extend her tenure as a Supreme Court judge, cannot be perceived to be impartial in hearing an ongoing judicial review into allegations that Lyford Cay resident Peter Nygard illegally increased the size of his property.
Attorneys for Mr Christie filed a motion in the Supreme Court on January 26 asking that Justice Bain recuse herself from the judicial review - or any other cases in which he was a party - on the basis that she was about to attain the legal age for retirement in April.
The motion was filed by Mr Christie’s lawyers in his capacity as minister responsible for Crown land and was argued on January 30.
In her 40-page ruling on the recusal, Justice Bain reminded Mr Christie of the independence of the judiciary from the executive, stressing that cases are distributed by the chief justice – a role that cannot be “usurped by the prime minister.”
The judge also said Mr Christie should have immediately filed a motion seeking her recusal if he had concerns, instead of choosing to “sit back and do nothing for upwards of seven months” while other Nygard matters were continuing in court.
On March 16, the Court of Appeal unanimously rejected the prime minister’s application for leave to begin appellate proceedings into Justice Bain’s decision not to recuse herself from judicial review cases involving construction works at Nygard Cay.