Scerri Herrera describes herself as 'methodical and highly organised'

Scerri Herrera describes herself as 'methodical and highly organised'

'A person facing a possible prison term has a right to know what lies in store'

Consuelo Scerri Herrera

Consuelo Scerri Herrera

Describing herself as a “methodical and organised” person, still harbouring a “thirst for legal knowledge” after 21 years of service as a magistrate, Madam Justice Consuelo Scerri Herrera gave a clear indication of her topmost priorities as newly promoted member of the superior courts.

In her first ceremonial sitting in the Criminal Court, Madam Justice Scerri Herrera addressed a packed courtroom in the presence of the President, the Justice Minister, the Chief Justice, fellow members of the judiciary, lawyers and close family.

Watch: Consuelo Scerri Herrera's promotion to judge was long overdue - PM

Her nomination had been shrouded in controversy as a judicial appointments committee had turned down her first nomination, only for it to reverse its decision once she was nominated a second time.

Warmly recollecting her childhood, the new judge described herself as a figlia di papà, recalling the late Mr Justice Joseph Herrera, her father and role model as far as justice was concerned.

She said she had always worked hard to ensure that she would cut down on any backlog of cases, pointing out that she had left “zero backlog” upon her elevation to judge.

Even on her last day as magistrate, before taking her oath of office, she had delivered judgment in the last four pending criminal cases always inspired by the words of the learned criminologist Cesare Beccaria who wrote that “punishment should be close in time to the criminal action to maximize the punishment’s deterrence value”.

Known for delivering rather lengthy judgments, Madam Justice Scerri Herrera explained that it had always been her priority to ensure that the person standing before her would know exactly why he had “won or lost” his case, thereby deeming it essential to explain her reasoning whilst also making sure that cases were dealt with in a short time.

Read: Promotions for Caruana Galizia inquiry magistrate, Scerri Herrera originally rejected

Whenever assigned fresh cases, she would double her efforts in the following six months or so to keep her workload in check, further pointing out that she had only left behind eight pending inquiries which had been very recently embarked upon.

“A good judge is one who applied the law in the right manner. A just judge was one who applied the law justly,” she said adding that a just Judge always abided by the principle of proportionality, believed in the dignity of the human being and was well aware of the social realities “out there”.

“Can I be just if my conscience tells me that I have given rise to conditions which might make it difficult for a person to be reintegrated in society” she asked, seizing the opportunity to appeal to the legislator to discard those systems which might have failed and set up more efficient systems in their stead.

Well aware of instances where criminal action might have been taken so that the prosecution could “play safe” the judge stressed that this was not right and that the time was ripe for a system of more rigorous scrutiny so as to ensure that only “bona fide” cases are prosecuted.

She has already appointed a number of appeals scheduling five sittings in July, giving herself time to write out the judgments in August and deliver them in September.

A person facing a possible prison term had a right to know what lay in store, especially when any registered progress in life was lost when his punishment was confirmed on appeal, she noted.

Another area close to her heart was that of ensuring that the rights of children, caught up in acrimonious matrimonial legal battles between parents, would be safeguarded. 

Abuse against public officials also needed to be addressed as did the system of legal aid which at present lacked a means test as existent in other EU states.


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