The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) has unanimously nominated Justice Martha Koome Karambu for the position of Chief Justice and forwarded her name to President Uhuru Kenyatta for the appointment.
If appointed, Justice Koome will become the first female president of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Kenya.
“Our duty was to select the best candidate and that’s what we have done,” Prof Olive Mugenda, who chaired the selection interviews, said on why the JSC will not release the scores for each candidate.
Her confirmation came barely hours after the Court of Appeal overturned a lower court’s ruling, which had barred the JSC from announcing the CJ contest winner pending determination of a petition.
Four petitioners had moved to court and successfully stopped the JSC process, arguing all the ten CJ seat applicants had not submitted their wealth declaration forms as required.
The Appellate Court ruled that the High Court lacked jurisdiction to hear the matter.
Martha Koome was up against legal giants, among them scholars, judges and seasoned lawyers.
The nine contestants she faced off against are: Said Chitembwe, Prof Patricia Mbote, Justice Marete Njagi, Philip Murgor, Justice Nduma Nderi, Fred Ngatia, Justice William Ouko, Dr Wekesa Moni and Alice Yano.
In 2016, Koome took a stab at the Deputy Chief Justice position, but wasn’t successful.
Judge Koome was admitted to the Bar as an Advocate of the High Court in 1986 and started as a legal associate at Mathenge and Muchemi Advocates until 1993, when she opened her own law firm and became the managing partner until 2003.
During her time as High Court Judge, between 2003 and 2011, Koome served in different capacities as the Head of Environment and Land Division in Nairobi, Resident Judge in Nakuru and Kitale, and at the Commercial and Family Divisions in Nairobi.
She was also a Council member in the Law Society of Kenya (LSK) under CJ Willy Mutunga’s tenure and was associated with the promulgation of Kenya’s 2010 Constitution.
The United Nations (UN) gifted the Appellate Judge on October 2020 with a runner-up award as UN Kenya Person of The Year 2020, in recognition of her advocacy for the rights of children in conflict with the law as well as child victims.
The Award is presented annually to commemorate UN Day on October 24 and honour an individual or an institution for succeeding to bring to public notice significant issues related to the Sustainable Development Goals.