Understanding the Law
June 25, 2010
Justice Jennifer Remy

“Patience, courage, wisdom and alertness” are some of the qualities of a good judge, and these I believe were all embodied in the person of Justice Jennifer Remy. She applied the law without fear or favor to achieve the ends of justice.{{more}}

Justice Jennifer Remy came to the Bench in St. Vincent and the Grenadines early September last year (2009) on her first assignment as a permanent judge to the Supreme Court in the Eastern Caribbean. She was not a stranger to our shores because she had spent a month with us the year before on a temporary assignment to the High Court as acting judge. This petite soft spoken judge endeared herself to those who appeared before her whether as counsel for the plaintiff or defendant, and there was nothing but praises and commendations for her on her first assignment. It was, therefore, a shock when I heard of her abrupt departure.

Justice Remy, St. Lucian by birth, was a model of excellence known especially for her calmness, humility and serenity. She respected everyone and she received great respect in return. What impressed me most was her demeanor. She was very courteous and yet firm. She had a way of letting those who appeared before her know that their line of argument was wrong without humiliating them. She dispensed justice with a fairness and calmness that earned her the admiration of lawyers. Young lawyers always benefitted from her years of experience as a lawyer and magistrate. She did not allow the estranged husband or wife to go away without words of advice about their conduct, especially where young children were involved.

Justice Remy did not have enough time to finish all that she set out to do as a judge, and I am certain from her deportment she had every intention of doing great work in this jurisdiction. I am sorry to see her go, and I know there are many who share this sentiment. I hope that after she has resolved her personal matters that the authorities will allow her, if she is willing, to come back to the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court to continue to make her contribution in our jurisdiction. She worked in the civil section and made her mark especially with land matters. She was just given the opportunity to make her mark in the Assizes when she resigned. She will be greatly missed.

The task of judges

No one can underestimate the challenges in the work of judges and magistrates. Judges have to work long hours in the courtroom, especially in open court matters, and they go home thereafter to write long judgments. They are unable to maintain an active social life, lest persons accuse them of partiality, and it is especially difficult in small island states like St. Vincent and the Grenadines where everyone knows the other person. They are not free to go their own way as ordinary citizens and have to always be under police protection. Fortunately for them, there are short breaks at Christmas and Easter, and there is the long vacation lasting from August 1st to about September 15th. When the court is on vacation, at least one judge must stay in the jurisdiction in case there is an emergency. In SVG there are three permanent judges. They take turns in the civil and criminal courts. They could be transferred at any time to another jurisdiction in the OECS. Magistrates work all year round and only have personal vacations. They have to be always on the alert, as they can be called upon in cases of emergency.