It has been more than three weeks since Chief Magistrate Joanne Walsh’s disciplinary hearing concluded, leaving uncertainty around her future in the judiciary.
The Judicial and Legal Services Commission (JLSC) suspended Walsh on July 20 with full pay until further notice, following the issuance of at least ten disciplinary charges, including accusations of failure to transmit funds to the government treasury, destruction of magistrates’ notes, vouchers, and government property.
The hearing lasted only a few days, during which evidence related to Walsh’s alleged misconduct and counterarguments from her legal team were heard by a tribunal of judges.
Walsh’s legal team comprised attorneys Kendrickson Kentish, Leon Symister, Wendel Robinson, and Cherise Archibald.
Although five additional charges were introduced during the hearing, details of these latest charges have not been disclosed.
The JLSC had been investigating Walsh for several months after the Permanent Secretary (PS) in the Ministry of Legal Affairs brought allegations of misconduct to their attention.
A prior attempt by the PS to launch an investigation in 2022 was superseded when the matter was referred to a higher authority.
Subsequently, the commission continued its investigation and appointed Justice Godfrey Smith to lead the inquiry, allowing Walsh an opportunity to provide her response before formal charges were laid.
Following the hearing, all parties involved were expected to submit written arguments, after which the tribunal was to deliver its decision. However, there has been no decision yet.
Walsh had sought an interim injunction to stop the disciplinary proceedings, asserting that her suspension was unlawful and amounted to an abuse of process.
However, on September 4, Judge Jan Drysdale denied her request for interim relief, citing insufficient evidence to support allegations of an abuse of process by the commission in exercising its statutory power to suspend.-