Mutunga suspends five magistrates over gross misconduct

By: MAZERA NDURYA

At least five magistrates have been interdicted over gross misconduct as the Chief Justice Willy Mutunga cracks the whip on errant judicial officers.

According to letters seen by the Nation, the suspended magistrates have been accused of a number of malpractices ranging from delays in completing cases to contravening directives given by the CJ over handling of minor offences.

The five magistrates who are from Makueni, Milimani, Ogembo, Kakamega and Mombasa law courts have already been asked to hand over all government documents and will earn half salary while on interdiction.

They are Caroline Ateya (magistrate Ogembo court), Mary Goretti (Kakamega), Elector Riany (Milimani), Davis Karani (Mombasa) and Timothy Nchoe (Makueni). They have been given 21 days to defend themselves in writing over the allegations levelled against them.

According to the interdiction letters seen by the Nation Riany was accused of detaining an advocate illegally at the chief magistrate’s court in Milimani.

CONTRAVENED DIRECTIVES

The action by the magistrate to detain the advocate in a traffic case contravened the directives given recently by the CJ which provided that if one is facing minor offence he or she should not be locked up without being given bail or bond.

Ms Goretti failed to deliver rulings and judgments in 105 cases pending before her despite being given 20 days within which to do so.

Ms Ateya allegedly issued a ruling that was calculated to defeat course of justice.

The letter from judiciary indicates that Ms Ateya handled a case on March 30, 2015 and certified it as urgent. The matter was scheduled for hearing in presence of both parties the following day but she later changed it to April 13.

The magistrate is said to have heard the matter on a different date in absence of parties and issued adverse orders.

On the other hand Mr Karani faces charges of issuing ruling in the absence of one of the parties in a matter he was handling. He faced another charge of habitually absenting himself from work without asking for permission.

Mr Nchoe is faced with a charge of failing to give rulings and judgments in 109 cases pending before him despite being given 20 days to do so.

Dr Mutunga said Judiciary has taken steps to address case backlog and corruption in the judiciary, a vice that has cast shadows on the transformation programme being undertaken to redeem the image of the institution.

REDEEM IMAGE

The CJ said over 60 judicial officials risk being sacked over corruption related cases as the Judiciary fights to redeem its image.

The CJ, while launching the Judiciary strategic plan last week, said among those who will be going home are 13 magistrates on grounds of alleged corruption, failure to deliver judgments and gross misconduct.

He said the combined work by the newly established Directorate of Internal Risk Management and the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) Inspectorate Unit has resulted in the interdiction of 65 administrative staff, 17 of whom are accountants.

Dr Mutunga said the anti-corruption court is being reorganised, and whereas its capacity was recently increased, the CJ said he will be posting additional magistrates there to help deal with the rising number of corruption cases in order to improve on case disposition rate.

SOURCE: DAILY NATION