Kenya: Judiciary Condemns Meru Lawyers' Demo, Stands With Magistrate

The Judiciary has criticised Tuesday's demonstration by lawyers from Meru who stormed the Tigania Law Courts demanding the transfer of the station's head.

The lawyers accused Principal Magistrate Gathogo Sogomo of corruption and high-handedness.

But in a communication to the media, the Judiciary said the lawyers had not followed the set procedure of lodging complaints against judicial officers and should not have resorted to picketing, an act that paralysed operations at the courthouse.

The press release further revealed that a probe into the matter, through the Office of the Judiciary Ombudsman, has been initiated, with a view to establishing what really transpired.

The letter also noted that the lawyers' action could have been insincere since the court headed by Mr Sogomo was among the best in the country, and was ranked second last year.

Magistrate praised

Several government officers working in Tigania region -- who cannot be named so as not to be seen as taking sides -- also praised the magistrate for his quick handling of cases, especially on gender-based violence.

The Judiciary noted that the lawyers may have reacted after the magistrate took issue with an advocate who had arrived in court late.

Under the Judiciary performance contracting mode, judicial officers are encouraged to ensure matters are dispensed with quickly. Litigants are also encouraged to embrace other forms of dispute resolution to ease congestion in courts.

"In the last Performance Evaluation 2018/2019, Tigania court was ranked number two in the country. Among courts with caseloads between 1,000 and 2,000, it was the second best performing magistrate's court, having resolved 4,207 cases in the year under review.

Advocate late to court

"While not taking sides, it is noted that one of the triggers of the altercation was that an advocate came to court late and the magistrate was firm and had moved on to the next case whose parties were ready to proceed," noted the statement from the Judiciary.

The Judiciary appealed to the public and other stakeholders to support its efforts of ensuring expeditious delivery of justice in the interest of litigants.

It noted that the lawyers, through the Law Society of Kenya, are members of the court users' committee and should have channelled their grievances through the group's forums.

"Kindly be in court on time and ready to proceed when your case is called out... . Additionally, every court has regular bar-bench meetings where the presiding judge and judicial officers meet with the advocates practising in their area to provide a platform to nip any problems in the bud," it concluded.

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