By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
BRIAN Moree, a senior partner of McKinney, Bancroft & Hughes, is widely expected to become the next Chief Justice of the Bahamas.
Mr Moree, Q.C., was admitted to the Bar of the Bahamas in 1979 and is one of the country’s foremost legal experts on financial services.
He has served as a stipendiary and circuit magistrate and as an acting Supreme Court justice.
He was formerly a member of the Judicial and Legal Services commission, is a former chairman of the Public Service Commission and is a former director of the Bahamas Financial Services Board.
While the Office of the Prime Minister has kept secret the identity of the prime minister’s choice for chief justice, a number of senior lawyers and political officials quizzed on the matter yesterday identified Mr Moree as the anticipated appointee.
A call to Mr Moree’s firm was not returned up to press time, and a representative for the OPM declined to comment on the matter.
Some senior lawyers believed Acting Chief Justice Vera Watkins would be confirmed in the post.
Although she has reached the retirement age of 65 and has had her tenure extended in accordance with the constitution, some lawyers said her appointment to the substantial Chief Justice role would likely be unconstitutional.
At least three sources said Mr Moree may not enter office until June, spending the intervening time addressing internal matters at his firm and winding up affairs.
Though his expected appointment is likely to be welcomed by many, it is not without some critics in the political and legal world, according to several sources.
On Monday, Denise Lewis-Johnson, vice-president of the Bahamas Bar Association and Wayne Munroe, Bar council member, said the council is satisfied with Dr Minnis’ choice for Chief Justice; neither revealed the identity of the person to The Tribune.
“We could find no great objection to the choice,” Mr Munroe said.
The unprecedented delays in filling the Chief Justice post has drawn commentary in the last year from Justice Watkins, several Queen’s Counsel and former Attorney Generals. On Monday, former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham told The Tribune he was “disappointed and distressed” by the delay and said the wider Bahamian community should be as well.
According to Supreme Court records, it has on average taken mere days for the transition from one office holder to another to take place. Historically, a Chief Justice announces their intention to leave office weeks in advance so that by the time that official departs, a swearing-in ceremony would take place the next day or week for his/her successor.
However, the gap between Sir Hartman Longley’s departure from office in 2017 and Justice Stephen Isaacs’ promotion to the role last August is the largest gap in at least the last 60 years, according to Supreme Court records. Already the gap in having someone succeed Justice Isaacs is nearly the second largest in that time, though the circumstances are without precedent because Justice Isaacs is the first in the modern era to die while in office. By the end of this month, it will be six months before Justice Isaacs has been replaced.