Judge pulls out of case on Mutunga

A Court of Appeal judge has disqualified herself from hearing an appeal where a woman is seeking maintenance costs from Chief Justice Willy Mutunga.

Justice Philomena Mwilu withdrew from the case after the CJ’s ex-wife, Prof Beverle Michael Lax, claimed the judge and Dr Mutunga had close ties.

Prof Lax told court she feared the decision of the three-judge bench would not be fair if Justice Mwilu continued to hear the case. The other judges are Martha Koome and Erastus Githinji.

“My client is apprehensive that because of the close ties, she may not be impartial,” said her lawyer Geoffrey Wesonga.

“If there is apprehension, then the only fair thing to do is for the judge in question to recuse herself,” added Mr Wesonga.

AMBUSHING BENCH

Dr Mutunga’s lawyer Chacha Odera accused Prof Lax of ambushing the bench when the matter could have been thrashed out in chambers.

“There has been a trend where lawyers come to court to ambush judges when there is no information or evidence on the allegations being made,” he said.

Justice Mwilu said: “I do not know what the close ties are but whatever the case, I shall not touch this matter again. I am here because my allegiance is to the court. I leave you in peace.”

The court will now set new dates for the hearing of the case.

Prof Lax moved to the Court of Appeal seeking a retrial, and maintenance, after losing the case in the High Court.

SOURCE: DAILY NATION