Gauntlett: Mogoeng says JSC refuses to be populist

2013-02-22 22:50

The Judicial Service Commission has passed over highly respected advocate Jeremy Gauntlett for appointment as a judge for the fifth time.

This was despite the fact that he received almost 66 nominations for a spot on the Constitutional Court’s bench, including nominations from Agang leader Mamphela Rhampele, DA leader Helen Zille and Archbishop Njongo Ndungane.

Last year, Gauntlett was also passed over for a position on the bench of the Western Cape High Court, sparking a public outcry which led to the JSC facing down a potential court review of its decision.

In reasons the JSC had to provide for passing Gauntlett, it said he lacked the appropriate temperament and humility required of a judicial officer.

The JSC narrowly avoided being taken to court over the decision, with former Supreme Court of Appeal Deputy Judge President Louis Harms launching a review application.

The case was withdrawn when Gauntlett was nominated for the Constitutional Court bench.

Shortly after the announcement that Gauntlett had been passed over, Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng said the JSC could not make its decisions based on whether they might be overturned in a court of law or were not supported by public opinion.

“We are not going to shirk our responsibility to ensure that we accommodate or rather avoid the possibility of losing a case in a court of law, if we lose, fine. What matters is the integrity that drives you.

“We refuse to be populist and say: ‘Hey what are they likely to say tomorrow, the people in the media, the commentators, what is so and so going to say in the blog.'”

In his interview today, Gauntlett reaffirmed that while he may have been known for his “acerbic” manner, he could also adapt his role to that of an adjudicator.

The JSC has nominated judges Selby Baqwa, Lebotsang Bosielo, Brian Spilg and Advocate Mbuyiseli Madlanga for the shortlist to be sent to the president.

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