Judiciary announces plans to employ 50 more magistrates
The Judiciary yesterday announced the planned recruitment of 50 more magistrates in the Kenyan courts next month in a move to reduce the backlog of cases.
A statement issued by Chief Justice Martha Koome during a meeting held with principal and presiding judges from the High Court in Nairobi on how to address backlog of cases, she announced that the 50 magistrates will be recruited next month.
Koome disclosed that efforts are underway to bridge the gap created in the High Court following the appointment of 10 judges to the Court of Appeal.
“We need a multi-door approach like the use of Alternative Dispute Resolution and Court Annexed Mediation to offload cases from the courts,” the CJ said.
She said more than 5,000 cases had been resolved through mediation with a success rate of 60 per cent, injecting Sh14 billion back into the Kenyan economy.
Koome has advocated that all cases in the courts should be active and consistently managed before a judge or the deputy registrar.
In a bid to support the conclusion of criminal cases, the CJ indicated she would engage other stakeholders at the National Council on Administration of Justice (NCAJ) to encourage use of plea bargains.
Kenya’s head of the Judiciary has been rooting for the adoption of a no-adjournment policy in the courts as part of her strategy to clear the perennial backlog of cases.
Koome stated that she wants all cases resolved within three years of filing, and within a year at the appellate stage.
During the meeting, the Principal Judge of the High Court, Justice Lydia Achode, informed the Chief Justice that various divisions of the High Court have been clearing case backlog through comprehensive case audits.
“The Commercial and Tax Division which had 7,497 cases as at June 30, 2020 has managed to clear 3,744 cases,” Justice Achode told the CJ.
Over the same period, 2,315 new cases were filed, leading to a caseload of 6,038 as at June 30 this year.
“The division has also adopted use of the Judiciary Transcription System where court proceedings are recorded and transcribed real-time,” she added.
In the Family Division, 1,556 cases were resolved out of 4,519, with an additional 2,621 new cases filed.
In the Civil Division, 1,869 cases were finalised over the same period out of 6,867, with an extra 1,979 new cases lodged.
In the Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Division, there were 190 cases pending as at June 30, 2020 with 75 cases resolved by June this year. Over the same period, 62 new cases were filed.
In the Judicial Review Division, 276 cases out of 1,153 cases were resolved, with another 342 cases filed over the same period.
In the Criminal Division 397 cases were resolved out of 1,628, with another 918 cases filed.
In the Constitutional Division 1,016 cases were pending, with an additional 454 cases filed and 407 finalised over a similar period.
Apart from the audits, the courts have adopted use of IT, updating the case tracking system, using service weeks, Rapid Result Initiatives and Alternative Dispute Resolution mechanisms to finalise pending cases.
The courts have however faced a low number of judges, shortage of staff and lack of adequate court rooms to effectively handle cases.
Since May this year Koome has transferred judges and Magistrates in her latest reshuffle set to take effect beginning October 1.
Her move to transfer the judicial officers has affected most several cases as some may have to start afresh before the new judges or magistrates.