Although judicial backlogging is not unique to Guyana’s newly sworn in Acting Chief Justice, Yonette Cummings-Edwards plans to invite all hands on deck to tackle the issue.
She gave the assurance yesterday after she was sworn in by President David Granger at the Ministry of the Presidency.
Justice Cummings-Edwards told media operatives that her plan is to focus on the state of the local justice system.
“I intend to look at the state of affairs right now and I intend to deal with backlog cases. I intend to deal with matters affecting the smooth functioning of the judiciary and I intend to have all hands onboard for us to work together towards having a system that will ensure that justice is done.”
On the issue of addressing the ever present backlog of cases, the acting Chief Justice said that the situation is not unique to Guyana and that team effort will be needed.
“It’s a problem that affects all judiciaries; it’s nothing that is unique, but it’s something that has to be handled consistently and I intend for all the judges and myself to tackle the issue. At the end of the day it is my view that it’s a team effort and we can do it.”
Justice Cummings who began her law career in 1988 expressed elation, while noting that, to her it’s a humbling experience.
Before God and man, in her oath of office, Justice Cummings-Edwards swore to remain truthful to the people of Guyana, as she faithfully performs the functions of Chief Justice without fear or favour, affection or ill will, honouring and upholding the constitution of Guyana.
Justice Cummings-Edwards is the second woman in Guyana’s history to be elevated to the
office of Chief Justice. The first was Justice Desiree Bernard who became the first Female Chancellor and also the first woman on the panel of Judges of the Caribbean Court of Justice.
Yesterday morning’s swearing-in was witnessed by Justice Cummings-Edwards’s husband, Dr. Maurice Edwards and daughter, Dr. Yana–Marisa Edwards.
The Chancellor of the Judiciary (Ag), Justice Carl Singh, Attorney General Basil Williams and State Minister Joe Harmon along with the Acting Supreme Court Registrar, and retired Judge Claudette Singh were also witnesses to the event.
Justice Cummings-Edwards has 27 years of unbroken experience in the local legal field. She was appointed Justice of Appeal in 2008 after serving eight years as a High Court Judge. Before becoming a member of the Judiciary, Justice Cummings-Edwards worked her way up at the Office of Director of Public Prosecutions.
Cummings-Edwards joined that office in 1988 as a State Counsel and moved up to become a Senior State Counsel, before becoming the Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions. She was later appointed as Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions and served as the Acting Director of Public Prosecutions until her appointment as High Court Judge in 2000.
Justice Cummings-Edwards is the holder of a Masters of Law Degree (Merit) from the University of London. She completed her legal education at the Hugh Wooding Law School in 1988 after gaining her Bachelor of Laws Degree from the University of the West Indies in 1986.
A proud graduate of the Mackenzie High School over the years she has returned to the education institution to offer guidance to students as an old student.
As a High Court Judge, Justice Yonette Cummings-Edwards presided over cases in both criminal and civil law. As a Judge on the Court of Appeal, she has heard appeals in civil and criminal cases and has written several judgments. (Mondale Smith)
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