September 2, 2016

Judge Refuses to Work on Sabbath in Kenya

A judge being vetted for the post of chief justice of Kenya’s Supreme Court said he is a faithful Seventh-day Adventist who will not work on Sabbath if appointed.

Court of appeals judge David Maraga told the Judicial Service Commission, which is responsible for nominating Supreme Court candidates to the president, that he would not enter the courtroom on Sabbath even in a presidential election dispute.Judge David Maraga pictured in the Sept. 1, 2016, edition of the Standard newspaper. (James Omwenga / Facebook)

“It would be very difficult for me to sit on a Saturday to hear a case,” Maraga said in reply to a commission member’s query about a hypothetical situation, local media reported. “I would rather talk with my colleagues in the court to accommodate me and exempt me from sitting if the hearing extends to a Saturday.”

Identifying himself as a staunch Adventist, Maraga said his practice was to worship God in church on Saturdays.

“According to the judge, only a matter of life and death can make him miss church on Saturday — for instance, an accident happening on his way to church in which case he would stop to help the victims,” Kenya’s Standard newspaper reported Thursday in an article with the large headline, “I Will Not Compromise Church for Work, Says Judge.”

The Judicial Service Commission, which is comprised of Supreme Court judges and other legal experts, interviewed Maraga on Wednesday as it seeks to fill three openings in the African country’s seven-member Supreme Court. Three judges, including the chief justice and deputy chief justice, retired earlier this year.

The commission’s recommendations are forwarded to the president who, after endorsing them, sends them to the parliament for final approval.

Maraga’s stance won praise from Kenyan Adventist believers on Facebook.

“Wow, [I] am encouraged to trust and believe in Him more,” said Janet Michira, a sales and marketing worker in Nairobi.

“I love the fact that there are still men walking in true honesty,” said Phyllis Karimi.

Facebook user Erick Ruto added, “May God help us all to stand for Him in all situation that He may be glorified.”

Maraga is a longtime judge who currently serves as chief judge of the court of appeals in Kisumu, Kenya’s third-largest city.

He told interviewers with the Judicial Service Commission that he is independent and not influenced by outside forces, the Standard reported.

He also described himself as a “time stickler unafraid to make tough calls,” the Capital News newspaper reported.

“I write judgments very fast and in Kisumu, where I’m the presiding court of appeals judge, we apologize if court starts even 10 minutes late,” he said.