Chief Justice accepts Rotary honours – cautioned he is now a Rotary Ambassador and obligated to Rotary’s ideals, principles
Where does judicial independence really begin and end? Where does the public perception of judicial independence begin and end? Where should the lines be drawn?
Many people will see no problem with our Chief Justice being an “honorary” member of the Rotary Club, and being feted by an organization that does so much good in the community.
“Honorary membership in Rotary is a privilege, which carries with it many obligations and we believe that you will recognise these and welcome them as opportunities for service,” said Rotary President Irving Burrowes as he addressed Gibson during “a glitzy affair at the Accra Beach Hotel.”
“The community will know and judge Rotary by your actions and ideals. You will become an ambassador for Rotary and you will carry these ideals and the principles of Rotary service to those who know you or with whom you are associated.”
… from the Barbados Advocate article Chief Justice becomes an honorary Rotarian
Others see Rotary a little differently than as just a community service club because the “by invitation only” membership of Rotary Clubs everywhere is naturally stacked with many business, financial and political elites. The Barbados Rotary Club was, of course, founded at Sandy Lane. I’ve never been invited to Sandy Lane… how about you?
After years of having David Simmons, a seasoned politician with a politician’s conflicts of interest, as their Chief Justice, Bajans welcomed Marston Gibson as someone who could restore the separation of powers. Never again did Bajans want to face a Chief Justice knowing that they might as well be standing before the Prime Minister or the political party in power.
That’s what happens when a long time politician like David Simmons is Attorney General and Deputy Prime Minister and part of the Senior Cabinet of the government in power – and then almost overnight becomes the highest judge in the country. Simmons was in charge of the court system where citizens sought justice against his own BLP government! People lose confidence in the courts when their opponents in court just had dinner with the judge.
And yet, there has to be a balance. Mr. Gibson is human. He is Bajan. He has friends and family and is himself part of the larger community. I suppose that if one of his friends or family appeared in court Mr. Gibson would have the integrity to excuse himself from judging or managing the case.
But what about Rotary members? Will Chief Justice Gibson now have to excuse himself from judging or administrating any case involving a fellow Rotarian? Continue reading