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Updated: Chief Justice Stephen Isaacs Dies Age 63

Chief Justice Stephen Isaacs alongside Governor General Dame Marguerite Pindling at his formal appointment earlier this month.

Chief Justice Stephen Isaacs alongside Governor General Dame Marguerite Pindling at his formal appointment earlier this month.

By RICARDO WELLS

Tribune Staff Reporter

rwells@tribunemedia.net

CHIEF Justice Stephen Isaacs died in hospital on Friday.

The 63-year-old was reportedly battling cancer.

He was recognized in a Cabinet statement confirming his death as a “judge’s judge…the epitome of the highest standards of conduct of a judicial officer; and for upholding the Rule of Law, justice, order and proper decorum in his courtroom.”

Justice Isaacs was sworn in to the substantive post of Chief Justice two weeks ago, filling a post left vacant by the retirement of Sir Hartman Longley last year.

Speaking to reporters following his appointment, Justice Isaacs listed better efficiency, an improved judicial complex, and more effective manpower management among his goals for his tenure in this position.

He also expressed hopes of advocating for a better “case to judge ratio,” improving the country’s plea bargain system and introducing an overall shift in the judicial culture of the country.

“Having a purpose-built judicial complex is still in the works. It’s been in the works since I was registrar. And with any luck you may see it before I retire,” he said.

On Friday, Opposition Leader Philip Davis described his passing as cruel irony.

Mr Davis underscored that Mr Justice Isaacs was a “good Bahamian”, who had done his best to administer the law without fear or favour.

“His life was not easy,” Mr Davis said in a statement.

“He rose up from difficult personal circumstances to reach the top of his profession. It is often one of the cruel ironies of this life that just as you reach the top, the final curtain is drawn.”

Said Mr Davis: “Our last conversation at his swearing- n touched upon that which is the richness of the human experience – that which is passed on from one life to the other.

“In this context Chief Justice Isaacs' life of overcoming the difficult personal circumstances will be the hallmark of his legacy.

Mr Davis said: “It illustrates that those unfortunate personal circumstances do not define who you are, but rather they reveal who you are by the way you respond to those circumstances. The proverb says “seven times you fall, eight times you get up."

“On behalf of the PLP, my wife Ann, our Deputy Leader, Chester Cooper, our Chairman Senator Fred Mitchell and the entire party, I offer sincere condolences to his family.”

Justice Isaacs, according to the government’s release, was called to the Bahamas Bar in 1982 and started his judicial career some 12 years later in 1994 when he was appointed Assistant Registrar of the Supreme Court.

Throughout his career, Justice Isaacs also served as Registrar of the Court of Appeal, and on the Industrial Tribunal, before being appointed to the Higher Judiciary as a Supreme Court Justice in September 2002 when he assumed office as an Acting Justice of the Supreme Court and was stationed in Freeport, Grand Bahama.

In 2015, he was promoted to the rank of a Senior Justice of the Supreme Court, and appointed Acting Chief Justice in December, 2017.

He was confirmed to the substantive post this past July.

Justice Isaacs is survived by his children Stephen Jr and Capri.

In a social media post yesterday, Englerston MP Glenys Hanna Martin expressed a great level of sadness and issued a plea for the country to “embrace” its brightest and best.

“Condolences to the children and family of Chief Justice Stephen Isaacs,” she wrote.

Her post continued: “I am so saddened by his demise. I am longing for the day in The Bahamas when we will willingly embrace our bright and talented sons and daughters without the petty politics.”

Democratic National Alliance Deputy Leader, Arinthia Komolafe also expressed sadness over the loss, contending the country was looking forward to the years of “distinguished service” by Justice Isaacs.

“It was only a few weeks ago that the late Chief Justice was confirmed in his substantive post. Bahamians had looked forward to more years of distinguished service by this luminary and true patriot,” her statement read.

“Unfortunately, this was not to be and we have lost a brilliant jurist who contributed enormously to the development of the legal profession in The Bahamas.

“Members of the legal fraternity will remember him as a respected gentleman who left an indelible mark on the judiciary and on our jurisprudence. A grateful nation salutes him for his service and dedication over the years.

“On behalf of the Democratic National Alliance, we offer our deepest condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of Chief justice Stephen Isaacs. Our thoughts and prayers are with them during this difficult time,” she added.

Prior to Justice Isaacs’ appointment, Bahamas Bar Association President Kahlil Parker had publicly castigated Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis over delays to name a new Chief Justice.

In April, Mr Parker told The Nassau Guardian that Dr Minnis had a “tremendous misapprehension” of the constitutional provisions relating to the appointment of a chief justice, adding the prime minister did not appear to grasp firmly the Constitution as a whole.

With the sudden and unexpected passing of Justice Isaacs, the process of identifying and naming a successor to the substantive post begins again.

Comments

Well_mudda_take_sic 2 months, 3 weeks ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 2 months, 3 weeks ago

To The Tribune Editor: Why not just do me (and others) a favour and take away my access to your very unsecure website? You can at the same time give my regards to our Minister of National Security.

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DDK 2 months, 3 weeks ago

BIG MISTAKE...NO, HUGE MISTAKE!!! LOL!

Mudda, have you been disrespectful?

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ThisIsOurs 2 months, 3 weeks ago

I've seen much worse posted and not removed. But fair enough, a friend or family member has the right not to like a statement about their loved one. I had a comment removed once that I thought was fairly innocuous, but I did accidentally tap the "suggest removal button" instead of edit...soooo...I really don't know what the rules are.

Sorry to hear of Justice Isaacs' passing. Condolences to his family

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realfreethinker 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Well-mudda you are a real bitter person. Is there nothing positive going on in your country?. You are such a negative person

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Well_mudda_take_sic 2 months, 3 weeks ago

And to think i've always been a die hard Christian like most Bahamians!

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milesair 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Real die hard "Christianists" always get their comments removed with their fake news!

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John 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Maybe your spirituality is dead!

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hrysippus 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Most die hard Christians that I have met have been pretty evil people, think catholic priesta abusing young children as just one example.

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Porcupine 2 months, 3 weeks ago

realfreethinker, I disagree with your comment. Well-mudda is one of the few commenters here who seem to grasp the reality of what is happening, both here and the world at large. Personally, I feel much the same way with regards to our national trajectory. This is not a cheer leading squad. Likewise, you go to the doctor to find out if something is wrong, and if it is, hopefully you take their advice instead of telling the doctor that they're too negative. The truth be told, if you are paying attention, there is precious little to celebrate if you care about the near future of the human species and life on this planet. Changes for the better most always come about by people taking to the streets, complaining, striking, revolting, demanding change. In every case, it is the governments and those soft thinkers who are the ones who merely go along with the program. I believe that is a huge part of the reason we will always remain a third world country. The human species is not in a good state right now. This I can spend hours and hours on. Is it negative? Absolutely. Is every fact I present accurate? Absolutely. And, I get the same response from those around me. "You're too negative." No, we are being truthful and attempting to right a capsizing ship. You can characterize Mudda as bitter, however, he/she takes the time to bring an important perspective into play. It seems we have lost this ability to accept the hard, real news and information and want everything sugar coated so that we "all" can accept it, guilt free. The human species has so dirtied our nest that today, to a well-studied well-read person it truly appears we may only have decades left on this planet. What should I tell my son in a few years when he is old enough to understand? When most of the population of The Bahamas has to move because of sea level rising. When our reefs are dead and there are no more fish, crawfish and conch? We currently act and talk as if these realities are not just around the corner. So, I join Mudda in giving the impression of being a negative person. I would rather be negative and right, rather than happy-go-lucky and dead wrong. History suggests that the happy-go-lucky are the first to go, unprepared, naive, oblivious to the sinking of the ship that they are on. So, who you voting for next time around, FNM or PLP? Think it makes a rat's ass difference?

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licks2 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Well-mudda-sick is the most naive and ignorant poster here. . .tally and the bird are just PLP. . .we cannot expect anything else from them. . .but that poster is so big mouthed and very sorely uninformed. . .politically that is. . .out to lunch most times!! Now s for the tribune policing their site. . .it is just that. . .THEIR SITE. . .FOLLOW THEIR RULES OR CARRY YA NO MANNERS TAIL WHERE YA CAN DO WHATEVER THE HECK YA LIKE!!!

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BahamasForBahamians 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Minnis must feel sick.

Made this man wait til his death to appoint him..

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licks2 2 months, 3 weeks ago

As usual. . .making no sense. . .

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TalRussell 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Condolences Comrade Stephen's family.
Don't you too get shivering feeling that there is something unnerving about this story when it comes to the long delay by PM in appointing the new CJ.... more so, wasn't it just like 48 hours back when the Her Excellency GG, swore in an acting CJ.... but anything left in hands this Imperial red cabinet, does ducks behind dark clouds reds twilight zone suspense. Tis' little wonder we former two honourable prime ministers - rejected being honoured, during his governing mandate.

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tell_it_like_it_is 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Condolences to the family. Very sad.

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birdiestrachan 2 months, 3 weeks ago

May his soul and the souls of all the faithful rest in peace.

He has taken a path that all must take.. May the good Lord be with those who love him as they grieve.

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Gotoutintime 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Condolences to his family and friends!

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John 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Heard about this on the 1 o'clock news. Then thinking how he was just barely appointed and to die so so soon. Then to hear the sounds of pap, pap, pap pap..and to see the police in live and living color shooting at a suspect on a motorbike. Determined in their effort to stop him in his tracks. Obviously having committed some crime, I would guess. And just being barely a few feet away from the shooting. Then more police arrive ..these set with the big guns that go rat-a -tatt, tatt-tatt, and more ratt-a-tatt-tatts., The uncertainty of life, but the certainty of death! No matter how timeless! May his soul continue in its well-deserved rest in peace.

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TalRussell 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Could it be the just sworn-in as colony islands newest Comrade C.J.Stephen but 14 days back - had done had enough Imperial reds and begged Jesus, sound him home - be up and far above away any earthly association reds - to begin prepping for all eternity, he divine pot heavenly stew. Amen!

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rawbahamian 2 months, 3 weeks ago

It would seem that the "Gold Clown" would find a way to to lambaste anybody who dares to differ from the former FAILED AND REPLACED gold shirt socialists !!!

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hrysippus 2 months, 3 weeks ago

I have been told but do not know if it is true that
Justice Isaacs was appointed by the cabinet knowing that he was close to death. The reason this was done was to provide a larger pension for his widow. If this is true, and it does have a ring of truth, then the cabinet probably patted each other on the back for their noble Christian act. I note that it did not cost anyone of them personally a single dollar. I call shame on them. They have failed in their duty of faithful and responsible stewardship of our country's limited financial resources. I am sorry for his death but he did not do a day of work as a fully appointed justice and his widow should not be getting the large pension that she will now. This could not have happened if we lived in a world governed by elected officials who acted from a point of integrity instead of expediency. This posted opinion may sound harsh and be unpopular but sometimes that is how the truth is.

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DDK 2 months, 3 weeks ago

IF accurate, does this not constitute a crime committed by all involved?

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ThisIsOurs 2 months, 3 weeks ago

I said the same thing as soon as I was told he had cancer (in terms of them giving his wife a larger pension). Minnis had to know. I suspect it's another political calculation, they've been in office an entire year, knew the Chief Justice was retiring in a few months and couldn't even get themselves together to name a successor. So I suspect its political move, no one could say they didn't give him the post and his wife gets a pension. I'm not too upset about the pension because he served the country and he should have gotten the post long ago. If he left comforted knowing she would be taken care of that's fine with me. This isn't a case where he didn't work for his reward

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licks2 2 months, 3 weeks ago

HIS WIFE GETS NO PENSION. . .but true. . .I am disturbed. . .why did they took him on knowing that he was deathly sick? This do not only tarnish the Minnis government. . .BUT ALL NOTED ADVOCATES FOR HIS "RUSHED" CONFIRMATION. . .THE WHOLE NINE YARD. . .this is wrong!

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hrysippus 2 months, 3 weeks ago

His wife does not receive his pension after his death? Wow, I had no idea, so the wives of deceased cabinet ministers and prime ministers do not get their pensions either? Someone straighten me out on this point.

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sheeprunner12 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Sooooooooo, does anyone screen these people before committing them to these high offices???? ........... Why did he not disclose his infirmity?????? ...... Or is this an ego and pension thing??????? .......... We have so many senior public officers who really cannot perform their duties because they are either too sick, cripple or jaded ........ Why is that not a criteria for senior management?????????

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TalRussell 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Ma Comrade PM and his Imperial red cabinet have left me all gobsmacked on this one?
This is not about doing over the now deceased just appointed CJ Stephen.... but unravel what did the PM know, and when did he know it .... seems logical others saw something - including former Court of Appeal President Comrade Sister Dame Joan, who it has been reported, gave him the sign cross following his swearing-in as CJ by Her Excellency the GG? The decision making process of PM and his Imperial red cabinet are not kinds people which the 91,409 voting red 10th May 2017 - have come much trust.

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licks2 2 months, 3 weeks ago

I do not expect a "title" of honesty from you. . .but you do know where to look for dirt but you conveniently left out THE WHOLE DAMN PLP PARTY WHO ROWED FOR DR MINNIS TO HURRY UP AND APPOINT THE MAN. . .ALL OF THEM KNOWING THAT HE WAS DEATHLY ILL!!!

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Sassy3 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Many of the regular trolls of Tribune posts are so callous and totally heartless. This was a good man from a great family and his children and family are mourning his loss. Before posting your opinion of government and who might get this or that and trying to figure out when "they" knew he was ill, why not just say a prayer for the loss? Why not take a minute to think about how it would feel if you were the family and read this trash or, are you just so inherently cold and unfeeling that you aren't able to grasp such a loss and the affect it might have on his loved ones?

I'm not a family member or friend, I have no government affiliations but felt the need to let you people know my thoughts. I also am not a regular reviewer or contributor to this blog so rest assured that I will not come back to find out what nastiness is added in response to my comments or to review your opinions. Enjoy the rest of your hapless life.

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