PM Minnis campaign general appointed Supreme Court Justice
Campaign General for Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis Juanita Denise Lewis-Johnson was sworn in as a Justice of the Supreme Court on Monday despite not spending one day on the bench.
Lewis-Johnson, who is the sister of Free National Movement National Campaign Coordinator Nigel Lewis, previously served as Chairman of Bahamas Maritime Authority.
She is one of several political appointments to the Supreme Court as the executive branch of government extends its tentacles into the judiciary, which should be independent.
Jeanine Weech-Gomez, who is also “a big FNM”, was also appointed Supreme Court Justice on Monday along with Deputy Chief Magistrate Andrew Forbes.
Neil Brathwaite, another FNM supporter, was pulled from the Attorney General’s Office to become a Supreme Court Justice. His appointment will take effect on June 14, 2021.
They were all promoted over Chief Magistrate Joyann Ferguson who is being punished by the Minnis Administration for failing to deliver a guilty verdict in the Frank Smith trial in 2019.
Ferguson’s damning assessment of National Security Minister Marvin Dames and then Health Minister Dr. Duane Sands, who both had repeated contact with the prosecution’s star witness before Smith was charged, didn’t do her any favors either.
It’s not the first time a staunch FNM has received a Supreme Court appointment over more deserving judicial officers.
Ruth Bowe-Darville was appointed Justice three days before her 65th birthday, which is the retirement age for a judge. The Minnis Administration then wrote her an extension letter for two years to allow her to remain on the bench until age 67.
Bowe-Darville’s daughter Ian-Marie Darville-Miller will be appointed as a magistrate, effective June 14, 2021.
Director of Public Prosecutions Garvin Gaskins did not receive a Supreme Court appointment but was rewarded for his attempted hatchet job in the failed Shane Gibson trial by the Minnis Administration, which bumped up his salary to be on par with the salary of a judge.
Is the Minnis Administration sending a message to judicial officers that they must be willing to do their political bidding in order to be elevated?
Will those who publicly oppose the Minnis Administration ever get a fair trial when the bench is being filled with its known supporters?
Is the governing party, which has gained a reputation as a dictator government, fortifying the bench in an effort to persecute
more of its political adversaries ahead of the General Election?
After campaigning on corruption and promising to put handcuffs on members of the former administration, the Minnis Administration was embarrassed when both Smith and former PLP cabinet minister Shane Gibson were acquitted of all charges.
Despite the then Minister of Finance describing the country’s financial cupboard as “bare”, the Attorney General decided to piss away more of taxpayers’ money by challenging the Chief Magistrate’s ruling in the Court of Appeal and Privy Council. However, both courts upheld her ruling.
AG Carl Bethel was too embarrassed to tell the public just how much of their money was spent flying in pricy British Queens Counsel to prosecute the high-profile cases.