The Chief Justice of the United States is the head of the United States Federal Court System (the Judicial Branch of the Federal government of the United States) and the Chief Judge of the Supreme Court of the United States. The Chief Justice is one of nine Supreme Court Justices; the other eight are the Associate Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States. From 1789 until 1866, the office was known as the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
The Chief Justice is the Highest Judicial Officer in the Country, and acts as the Chief Administrative Officer of the Federal Courts and as Head of the Judicial Conference of the United States. He appoints the Director of the Administrative Office of the United States Courts. The Chief Justice also serves as the spokesperson for the Judicial Branch.
The Chief Justice leads the business of the Supreme Court and presides over oral arguments before the Court. When the Court renders an opinion, the Chief Justice—when in the majority—decides who writes the Court’s opinion. The Chief Justice also has significant agenda-setting power over the Court’s meetings. In the case of an impeachment of a President of the United States, which has occurred twice, the Chief Justice presides over the trial in the Senate. In modern tradition, the Chief Justice has the ceremonial duty of administering the States. The first Chief Justice was John Jay. The 17th and current Chief Justice is John G. Roberts (Jr).
Similarly, the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone gives overwhelming authority to the sitting President to appoint the Chief Justice of the Country’s Judiciary after recommendation from the Legal and Judicial Commission.
Currently, the Judiciary has as its acting Chief Justice, Mr. Valesius Thomas who is not qualified for the appointment of a substantive Chief Justice or an extention of his acting position. He will have to be succeeded by a substantive Chief Justice who will be appointed by the President. In this case is President Ernest Bai Koroma. It is not known whether the appointment of a substantive Chief Justice will be done prior to the end of the three months grace period granted to the acting Chief Justice or after the three months period.
Meanwhile, the acting Chief Justice has prepared the environment for the appointment, after a meeting held last Thursday by the Legal Service Commission, the names of two prominent and credible candidates have been recommended to the President, who will browse through the names and make the appointment between the two candidates.
The two candidates are Justices Abdulai Charm and Nicholas Browne-Marke. These two candidates have maintained unblemished records over the years and are conversant with the legal framework of the Judiciary.
Just like in many Countries, including the United States of America it is the prerogative of the sitting President to appoint the Chief Justice without answering questions from anyone.
Since independence to date several Sierra Leoneans have been appointed by past Presidents of the Republic of Sierra Leone and served as Chief Justices of the Supreme Court and the Judiciary. Hon. Justice Bairamian was appointed by the Sir Milton Margai Governance Administration, followed by Hon. Justice Sir Saloko Benka Coker. The arrangement of these appointments may not be chronological but the appointments and their services to this nation as Chief Justices are factual and true. The appointment history shows that not in all cases that Chief Justices are appointed from the Supreme Court, which is the highest court of the land, but also from the High Court at the pleasure of the sitting President.
Hon. Justice Okoro Cole was also appointed Chief Justice and served for a period of time. Hon. Justice Gershon Collier was also another Chief Justice. Hon. Justice Liversy-Luke was appointed Chief Justice from the High Court of the Republic of Sierra Leone. Hon. Justice Richard B. Marke from the Supreme Court and Hon. Justice Sheku Mohammed Kutubu from the Court of Appeal and Hon. Justice Samuel Beccles Davies Justice from the Supreme Court but served for a brief period and resigned. Hon. Justice Desmond Edgar Fashole-Luke was a Politician and Diplomat. He was appointed outside the confines of the Judiciary. Similarly, Hon. Justice Abdulai Timbo was a Politician and a Private Practitioner, but was appointed Chief Justice. Hon. Dr. Ade Renner Thomas was a Diplomat, Private Legal Practitioner, but was appointed Chief Justice. Hon. Justice Umu Hawa Tejan Jalloh was an employee of the Law Officers Department, High Court and the Appeal and later appointed Chief Justice of the Republic of Sierra Leone. The pre-requisite according to judicial sources is twenty years after being called to the Bar. Both Justices Nicholas Browne-Marke and Abdulai Charm have spent over thirty years since call to the Bar. It is now the decision of President Koroma to appoint any one of them to serve as Chief Justice of the Republic of Sierra Leone.

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