JSC nominates judge Philomena Mwilu for Deputy CJ
Nomination came as a surprise as many had betted on Murgor, Koome and Sichale.
Appeal judge Philomena Mwilu’s integrity and lack of political alignment worked in her favour to be picked as Deputy Chief Justice, the Star has learnt.
Justice Mwilu emerged tops out of the 14 candidates interviewed by the Judicial Service Commission.
Sources say JSC was looking for merit, integrity and non-alignment to any political party, as some of the qualities over and above the qualifications outlined in the constitution.
In a press statement sent to newsrooms, the commission said it submitted Mwilu’s name to President Uhuru Kenyatta for appointment.
“The JSC has, after lengthy deliberations, recommended Justice Philomena Mwilu for appointment as the Deputy Chief Justice,” chairperson Margaret Kobia said.
During interviews, Mwilu suggested that the judiciary come up with ways to supervise and mentor young officers who suffer silently due to alcoholism.
She said a number of officers have a drinking problem, but little is done to help them.
Mwilu said while working in Eldoret, she noticed a magistrate reported to work at 2pm because he had taken too much alcohol.
“I was forced to talk to the magistrate and organise lunch for the station’s nine magistrates on a weekly basis to try and find out the problems they were undergoing,” she said.
If appointed, she becomes the third person to hold the position of DCJ in the country since its inception in 2010.
The first was Nancy Baraza who had a short stint, as she was removed over alleged misconduct.
She was accused of pinching the nose of a security guard at Village Market. A tribunal was formed to look into her conduct. It recommended her dismissal. Baraza appealed the decision but later resigned.
After her exit, Justice Kalpana Rawal was appointed. She retired in June after attaining the retirement age of 70.
Rawal’s exit was not smooth either, as she moved to court to challenge an earlier directive on her retirement.
She said because she was appointed under the repealed constitution, which required judges to retire at 74, she had legitimate expectation to serve four more years.
However, she did not succeed. The position was advertised and a total of 16 candidates were shortlisted.
Justice Mwilu was among the judges who handled the teachers’ salary increase case, which was heard last November by a five-judge bench.
In 2011, she set aside her judgment in which she ordered that the Judiciary gets back its land on which Eldoret law courts stand.
She had initially ordered that the land reverts to Lima Limited but changed her decision after getting proper information, which was initially concealed from her.
Mwilu graduated from the University of Nairobi and was admitted as an advocate of the High Court of Kenya in 1984.
She practiced law at Muthoga Gaturu & Company and later Mutunga & Company Advocates.
Mwilu worked as company secretary and headed a state corporation, before being appointed as Judge of the High Court in 2007.
She served in the Commercial Division in Nairobi, at the Eldoret High Court and the Civil Appeals, a sub-division of the High Court, the murder section of the Criminal Division and headed the Environment and Land Division of the High Court.
The President is by law expected to forward the name to Parliament for approval.
Justice Philomena Mwilu takes her seat in readiness for the DCJ interview at the Supreme Court on October 3