Female judges hail outgoing Chief Justice

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

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KINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) — Female judges from Jamaica and the wider Caribbean have heaped praises on retiring Chief Justice, Justice Zaila McCalla, for her 40 years of stalwart service to the justice sector and her work to modernise the judicial system.

Members of the Jamaica Association of Women Judges (JAWJ) in a citation saluted her as “a true role model and a female icon in the annals of the history of the judiciary of Jamaica”.

“Through sheer determination, drive and enthusiasm, she has enshrined a legacy of continued legal education and other beneficial opportunities for the judiciary in Jamaica. She has done much to ensure that the predominantly female judiciary benefits from the global expertise and collective mission of like-minded persons,” it read.

The citation was presented by Puisne Judge and Assistant Secretary to the JAWJ, Justice Carol Edwards, during a ceremony hosted by the group at the Terra Nova All-Suite Hotel last Friday.

McCalla was also applauded for her contribution to the empowerment of female judges and was recognised as a staunch advocate for human rights, women's and children's rights.

“As a female Chief Justice, she has given the justice system a warmer, softer, more effective and accessible human face. Through her sound judgement and fervent commitment to ensuring justice for all Jamaicans, she continues to inspire and guide the Association towards the goal of providing equal rights and equal opportunities for all the men and women who interface with the judicial system,” the citation said.

McCalla, in her response, thanked the association for the acknowledgement, noting that she was moved by the warm words.

“I am greatly inspired by the commitment, dedication and hard work of judges and court staff. You are the ones who have inspired me to make whatever contribution I have made in respect of the advancement of justice in our country,” she said.

The Caribbean Association of Women Judges (CAWJ) also extended commendations to the Chief Justice.

In a statement read by Vice President of CAWJ, Justice Yonette Cummings, McCalla was hailed for “a legacy that will continue to be a beacon” to members of the regional and international judiciary.

“The CAWJ salutes Justice Zaila McCalla for her sterling contribution to local and regional jurisprudence and wishes her a retirement that sees her many attributes being put to use in yet further exciting endeavours,” she said.

Justice Cummings further read tributes from the Guyana Association of Women Judges and the Judiciary of Guyana.

McCalla was lauded for her role in helping to develop the Children's Court in Guyana and the Dear Children's Court in Trinidad and Tobago.

Chief Justice McCalla has had an extensive legal career in the public service, having been called to the Jamaican Bar in 1976.

She served as Deputy Clerk of Court until 1977 when she was promoted to Clerk of Courts, a post she served in until 1980. She then served as Crown Counsel in the Department of Public Prosecutions, and was promoted in 1985 to Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions.

In August of 1985, she became a Resident Magistrate and was later appointed as Senior Resident Magistrate. In 1996, she became a Master in Chambers, and in 1997, she was appointed Puisne Judge and served until 2006, when she was promoted to Judge of Appeal.

She was appointed Chief Justice of Jamaica on June 27, 2007. Chief Justice McCalla is the first female Chief Justice of Jamaica.

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