Cape Town - Advocate Jeremy Gauntlett, SC, has been shortlisted to fill a judicial vacancy at the Constitutional Court.
In what sparked outrage among many in the legal fraternity, Gauntlett was overlooked for a spot on the Western Cape High Court Bench a few months ago.
The Judicial Service Commission’s (JSC) decision not to recommend Gauntlett for appointment led retired Supreme Court of Appeal deputy president Louis Harms to consider taking legal action. Nothing has come of this yet.
The commission announced its shortlist for the Concourt post yesterday.
The five candidates are Gauntlett, Supreme Court of Appeal Judge Ronnie Bosielo, Gauteng judges Selby Baqwa and Brian Spilg, as well as advocate Mbuyiseli Madlanga, SC. They are expected to be interviewed by the JSC on February 22, after which the commission will make its recommendations to President Jacob Zuma.
The president ultimately makes the appointment.
The successful candidate is set to fill a spot that will soon be left by Justice Zak Yacoob, who is retiring at the end of the month.
Gauntlett’s last bid for the Bench first made headlines when Paul Ngobeni, a former special adviser to the defence minister, criticised Gauntlett in an open letter, saying he was “unfit” to be a judge.
Gauntlett hit back saying that Ngobeni’s reason for doing so was that he had served on the UCT council that had authorised an inquiry into Ngobeni’s appointment as deputy registrar of the university.
The JSC interviewed eight candidates to fill five vacancies on the Western Cape Bench, ; however, Gauntlett, considered to be one of the country’s top lawyers, was not recommended.
Those who were appointed are judges Ashton Schippers, Owen Rogers, Judith Cloete, Pearl Mantame and Nape Dolamo, who are all expected to begin their judicial duties this year.
More recently in November, Ngobeni also laid a complaint of professional misconduct against Gauntlett with the Cape Bar Council; however, the advocate dismissed the allegations as “contrived”.
It came amid Gauntlett’s nomination for the Concourt position.
He was nominated by a string of supporters, among them Struggle stalwart Mamphela Ramphele, veteran human rights lawyer Sir Sydney Kentridge SC/QC, DA leader Helen Zille, UCT Vice-Chancellor Max Price, former Archbishop Njongo Ndungane and IFP president Mangosuthu Buthelezi.
Gauntlett has been overlooked for the Bench four times – twice for the Western Cape High Court and twice for the Constitutional Court.
The JSC, meanwhile, has called for the legal profession and institutions with an interest in its work to submit comments on the candidates by no later than February 7.