Guyana’s new Chief Justice (ag), the Honourable, Justice Yonette Cummings-Edwards, intends prioritize development and better service in the Court Registry and tackle the long list of cases that have been backing up in the High Court system.
Justice Cummings-Edwards took the oath of office this morning to perform the functions of Chief Justice. The acting Chief Justice, Ian Chang went off into pre retirement leave yesterday.
After taking her oath before President Granger at the Ministry of the Presidency, Justice Cummings-Edwards explained to the media that she intends to address the issues that have been bugging the High Court system.
“I intend to deal with backlog cases and I intend to deal with matters affecting the Judiciary including the slow functioning of the Judiciary and I intend to have all hands on board for us to work together towards having a system to ensure the Justice system works”, the Acting Chief Justice said.
She said the issue of backlog cases is one that affects all judiciary but she intends to work along with the other Judges to see how best it could be handled.
Justice Yonette Cummings-Edwards is only the secound woman in Guyana’s history to be elevated to the office of Chief Justice. The first was Justice Desiree Bernard who moved on to become the first Female Chancellor and also the first Judges of the Caribbean Court of Justice.
This morning’s swearing-in was witnessed by Justice Cummings-Edwards’ husband, Dr. Maurice Edwards and their daughter. 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 all on hand to witness the event.
With 27 years of unbroken experience and work in the local legal field, Justice Cummings-Edwards appears set to take on those functions as Chief Justice.
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 Public Prosecutions.
She joined that office in 1988 as a State Counsel and moved up to become a Senior State Counsel, then 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.
Her High School days began and were completed in Linden at the Mackenzie High School. She has always been proud of her Mackenzie High School education and over the years, she has returned to the school 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 appeal in civil and criminal cases and has written several judgements.
President David Granger has described Justice Cummings-Edwards as the most suitable choice for the position.