JSC Lays Ground for Murgor Clash With DCJ Mwilu, Ngatia 

An undated file image of Senior counsel Fred Ngatia
  • The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) dismissed a letter by Senior Counsel Philip Murgor seeking to bar Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu from sitting in the ongoing interviews for candidates seeking for the Chief Justice position.

    The letter dated Thursday, April 15,  effectively lay the groundwork for a much-awaited face-off between Mwilu and  Murgor who is set to appear before the JSC panel on Friday morning, April 16. 

    The Senior Counsel had claimed that DCJ’s presence in the interviews would likely lead to bias and favoritism towards his rival candidate, Senior Counsel Fred Ngatia.

    Ngatia had in the past acted for Mwilu during her vetting on suitability to be a judge in 2012. 

    “Ngatia was her advocate when she appeared before the Judges and Magistrates Vetting Board and by virtue of the subsisting client and advocate relationship, she might have a lifelong debt of gratitude, which will make the DCJ favour him during the interview,†Murgor said in his letter

    An undated file image of Senior counsel Fred Ngatia

    JSC, however, disregarded Murgor’s claims affirming that the letter lacked basis. 

    Ngatia also acted as lead counsel for President Uhuru Kenyatta during the 2013 and 2017 election petitions. 

    President Kenyatta will have limited say on the appointment as he appoints the best candidate from a list of the top three candidates submitted by the JSC. The commission, however, can submit one name as happened in 2012 resulting in the appointment of Willy Mutunga. 

    However, a section of lawyers came out to note that Murgor’s claims were a plot to put pressure on JSC and interfere with their judicial independence. 

    The ongoing chief justice interviews have been full of robust engagement between interviewers and candidates since they began on Monday, April 12.

    Candidates seeking to become Kenya’s next Chief Justice are put on the hot seat as they are put to task by the JSC to answer on various contentious issues. 

    So far, High Court judge Said Chitembwe, Professor Patricia Kameri Mbote, Justice Martha Koome and Justice Njagi Marete have been interviewed.

    The remaining candidates include Murgor, Justice William Ouko, Justice Mathews Nderi, Fredrick Ngatia, Prof Wekesa Moni and Ms Alice Jepkoech.

    File image of the Kenya supreme court
    File image of the Kenya supreme court

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