“I was the first lawyer from the Sam­buru com­mu­nity. As good as it sounds, it had its chal­lenges...I had no lawyer from the com­mu­nity to look up to or for guid­ance.”

The Star (Kenya) - - Politics Profile - PETER NG’ETICH @pet­kich

ONE of Jus­tice Isaac Lenaola’s two sons is an ar­dent sup­porter of the Arsenal foot­ball club in the English Pre­mier League.

And the fact that the judge is a dyedin-the-wool Manchester United fan has cre­ated a per­fect op­por­tu­nity for a game of taunts be­tween fa­ther and son.

The taunts notwith­stand­ing, Lenaola, the head of the Con­sti­tu­tional and Hu­man Rights Di­vi­sion of the High Court, is un­happy with the cur­rent state of his favourite club.

He has come to ac­knowl­edge that “the blip”, as Sir Alex Ferguson would de­scribe the cur­rent poor run, is tem­po­rary and part of the nat­u­ral or­der of things.

“There is a time for ev­ery­thing. Le­ices­ter pro­vides a pow­er­ful mes­sage that even the least ex­pected can hap­pen,” he says re­as­sur­ingly.

The judge says that he owes his ca­reer in law to Fran­cis Ka­paro, the chair­man of the Na­tional Co­he­sion and In­te­gra­tion Com­mis­sion and for­mer Speaker of the Na­tional As­sem­bly.

It was in 1983 and Ka­paro, then a prac­tis­ing ad­vo­cate, had gone to the Mar­alal law courts to rep­re­sent one of his clients in a crim­i­nal trial Lenaola, then a Form Three stu­dent, had at­tended court to have a feel of the at­mos­phere.

“Ka­paro’s per­for­mance in court was so im­pres­sive that I in­stantly liked him. He in­spired me to study law,” says the judge and fa­ther of two, who grew up herd­ing his fa­ther’s goats in Mar­alal town. That would start Lenaola’s jour­ney into law and upon grad­u­a­tion, the first Sam­buru ever to study law.

“I was the first lawyer from the Sam­buru com­mu­nity,” he re­veals. “As good as it sounds, it had its chal­lenges...I had no lawyer from the com­mu­nity to look up to or for guid­ance.”

He is among the very few judges who were ap­pointed to the Bench in their 30s. Among the oth­ers are Em­manuel O’kubasu and Msagha Mbogholi.

His name was con­stantly linked to the suc­ces­sion in the Ju­di­ciary as among the ju­rists who could re­place Chief Jus­tice Willy Mu­tunga when he re­tired.

While he did not rule this out, his view is that the of­fice of Chief Jus­tice should be oc­cu­pied by a judge who, upon com­ple­tion of his term, re­tires from the Ju­di­ciary. The law pro­vides that a CJ serve a max­i­mum of 10 years. Those who com­plete the term and are not 70 years old have the op­tion of re­main­ing judges in the Supreme Court. Lenaola dis­agrees with this ar­range­ment.

“This will cre­ate ten­sion and my view is that those who oc­cupy that of­fice should be at the tail-end of their pro­fes­sional ca­reers in the Ju­di­ciary.”

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