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?
Our Courts and Judges must be SEEN to be totally independent of outside influence
Our court system and judges must not only be independent, they must be seen as independent by the public and by those who stand in front of them. By accepting the public honours and membership with an organization so stacked with business, financial and political elites, Chief Justice Gibson just lost a little bit of his perceived independence. He also lowered the perceived independence of our courts, if only by a small amount.
Something for the Chief Justice to contemplate the next time he receives an invitation from another group of influential Bajan business and political elites who would love to count the Chief Justice as one of their number.
We encourage our readers to visit the website of the Barbados Advocate to read Chief Justice becomes an honorary Rotarian, but we have to reprint the entire article here because the Bajan news media has a habit of deleting news articles and history for political agendas…
Chief Justice becomes an honorary Rotarian
On the 26th anniversary of the Rotary Club of Barbados South, its members, along with supporting members of sister Rotary clubs, had much to celebrate as they welcomed a Barbadian legal luminary into the fold of the organisation on Friday night.
During a glitzy affair at the Accra Beach Hotel, Chief Justice of Barbados, Marston Gibson, was formally inducted into the Rotary Club of Barbados South as an honorary member to thunderous applause.
President, Irving Burrowes, explained that it has been custom in Rotary for persons who have demonstrated excellence and leadership in their respective vocations to be invited for membership and that the club “is extremely pleased” to have had the opportunity to continue the tradition as former Chief Justice Sir Denys Williams remains an honorary member having been inducted since 1987.
“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.
“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 Burrowes as he addressed Gibson
during the ceremony.
The Chief Justice, who is a Rhodes scholar and was most recently a court attorney-referee of the State of New York before taking up his current local post last September, thanked the club for its invitation but reserved the subject of his reply to call on the youth to answer the call of service.
He shared that he was the secretary of the Lions Club of Barbados Central several years ago and as such was the co-ordinator of the Leo Club and thus presided over the club’s charter nights.
“What impacted on me tonight was meeting the president of the Rotaract club [Rotary young adult arm]. One of the things that I had noticed in New York, likewise here, is that we are losing our young people. Somewhere along the line we are not being able to convince them that service is rewarding.”
He added that he has always been convinced that when one helps other persons, one is doing service to God and reminded the youth that there are always persons less privileged than themselves and thus they have a moral obligation to help wherever they can.
Meanwhile, Past President Dr. Latchman Kissoon gave a lengthy history of the club in his feature address, noting the steady growth of membership since its official birth on January 13, 1986 at the Sandy Lane hotel. He also revealed a little about the origins of Rotary worldwide, which began with 3 men in Chicago in 1905, who wanted to make a difference to their society through the utilisation of their different skills. (EL)