Former Supreme Court Justice Carolita Bethel was sworn in on Tuesday as Justice of the Court of Appeal by Governor General Cornelius A. Smith during a brief ceremony at Government House. Her appointment took effect Thursday, August 6, 2020.
She superseded Supreme Court Justices Estelle Gray Evans, Bernard Turner, Indra Charles and Vera Watkins who is on pre-retirement leave.
Watkins served as Acting Chief Justice in August 2019. Evans has been a Supreme Court Justice since 1995, Turner has been on the Supreme Court bench since 2009 and Charles was appointed in 2012.
Bethel was appointed Supreme Court Justice after them on June 27, 2013.
She is the wife of attorney Feron Bethel, who was appointed Queens Counsel in February 2020 under the Minnis Administration.
Feron Bethel, who was one of the Free National Movement’s representatives during the Centreville ballot recount in the 2017 General Election, was the only member of the Bahamas Power and Light board to be reappointed after the entire BPL board was wiped out in August 2018.
On June 29, Bahamas Bar Association President Khalil Parker sent a scathing letter to Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis, criticizing judicial appointments without proper consultation.
“We are cognizant of the powers of your Office under Articles 94 and 99 of the Constitution, as well as those of the Judicial and Legal Service Commission under Article 94(2),” Parker wrote.
“It has become clear, however, that the repeated calls from the Bar for the establishment of an open, fair, and transparent process of judicial appointment have neither been given the priority nor have they been treated with the urgency demanded by the circumstances,” he added.
“Be advised that any further judicial appointments made in the absence of proper consultation and a published system of open, fair, and meritocratic competition will not enjoy the confidence of The Bahamas Bar Association.”
Parker warned that any appointee who purports to take the judicial oath in circumstances where their appointment was not secured in an open, fair, meritocratic, and transparent way should not expect to be regarded as Honourable.
Was the association’s call for an “open, fair and transparent” process followed prior to this judicial appointment?
Why weren’t any of the three more senior Supreme Court justices chosen to ascend to the bench of the Court of Appeal?
The President of the Court of Appeal and
other Justices of Appeal are appointed by the Governor General by instrument under the Public Seal on the recommendation of the Prime Minister after consultation with the Leader of the Opposition.