The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) has made history as it nominated the first woman Chief Justice of the Republic of Kenya, Justice Koome Martha Karambu. The nomination comes after what the Commission termed as a stiff competition from nine other candidates, including judges, prominent lawyers in private practice and law scholars.
“Our duty was to select the best candidate and that’s what we have done,” said Prof. Olive Mugenda, who chaired the interviews, on why the individual scores will not be made public.
The other candidates were Justice Said Juma Chitembwe, Prof. Patricia Mbote, Justice Njagi Marete, Mr. Philip Murgor, Justice Nduma Nderi, Justice William Ouko, Prof. Moni Wekesa and Ms. Alice Yano.
Prof. Mugenda also announced that interviews for a Supreme Court judge to replace Jackton Ojwang, who retired, will resume on May 3. She said all the candidates would be notified immediately of the dates when they would face the panel.
Justice Koome, a Court of Appeal Judge, has over 18 years’ experience in the Judiciary. She indicated her priorities as reducing the backlog of cases by facilitating the appointment of additional judges and magistrates, operationalizing the Judiciary Fund to promote its independence, promoting the use of technology as well as to building additional courts.
If her appointed in approved, Justice Koome will head the Judiciary for the next 10 years, marking the first time that holders of the two most powerful positions in the Judiciary are women. The current deputy and acting Chief Justice is Philomena Mwilu.
The Lady Justice is renowned for her passion for children and women’s rights. She joined the High Court in 2003 and served in several stations among them Nakuru and Nairobi, before she was promoted to the Court of Appeal in 2011.