THE High Court last Friday farewelled Australian judge, Justice Stephen Pallaras, in a ceremonial sitting.
Chief Justice Sir Albert Palmer thanked Justice Pallaras for his zeal, passion and commitment to his duties both in the courtroom and outside.
“I want to thank him for turning the lights on perhaps in the courtrooms of the High Court if not, turning it a little bit more brighter, that the police, lawyers, magistrates and judges and the community, deserve the best from those of us involved whether directly or indirectly in the administration of justice in this country,” Sir Albert said.
“With his departure he leaves a gap but I hope that with the assistance of a new, responsive and visionary Government after November 19, we will be able to secure the services of someone to fill that gap and continue with the excellent work that his Lordship leaves behind him, a legacy of committed and passionate service at its best.”
Justice Pallaras joined the bench of the High Court two and a half years ago to assist in the disposal of tension related cases, under the Australian Government funded Solomon Islands Justice Program funded.
Sir Albert said this funding assistance was made available primarily for that purpose based on reports that there were still a number of such cases around and that these needed to be cleared off expeditiously as the funding assistance went through a transition as well as being reduced.
He said it turned out however that there wasn’t much by the way of those cases and so he was asked to assist with the hearing of non-tension related cases, and with the view to assisting in clearing backlogs and reducing delays in the hearing of those cases.
“His Lordship has done that with great zeal and not only assisted in disposing of many criminal cases in the last two and a half years but has also made his mark in terms of re-visiting the sentencing regime in this country for much of the domestic and sexual violence cases that have come through this court.”
The chief justice said Justice Pallaras has not only ensure that principles of retribution and deterrence are properly put in their context in these types of offending but has not hesitant to speak out through his judgments and awareness talks through the media invitations to churches, schools and other gatherings to highlight issues pertaining to the work of the courts and the administration of justice and the rule of law in this country.
“In the court room he has not hesitant to make his stand clear as to his expectations of lawyers’ performances and the quality of advocacy and police investigative work.
“He has not hesitant to make criticisms where that is due and it is difficult to fault on him on this for he has brought with him onto the Bench almost 40 years of previous criminal practice and experience not only in Australia but also in other countries in particular Hong Kong,” Sir Albert said.
He added that skills honed and made razor sharp on the Bar from countless appearances in Superior Courts in those jurisdictions were nothing less than the best is expected and which Justice Pallaras has brought with full display and vigour on the High Court Bench.
“On behalf of the Government and the people of Solomon Islands and the National Judiciary I wish you well for your future and your family as well.”
A representative from the Attorney General’s Chamber, Banuve Savenaca, told Justice Pallaras that his concern to maintain best standards in the prosecution of criminal matters in the High Court of Solomon Islands is a legacy that he left behind and will be remembered by practitioners who have had the privileged of appearing before him.
“You have brought with you formidable reputation in criminal prosecution from the courts of Australia, Hong Kong and Solomon Islands and its people were indeed beneficiary of this knowledge and experience through your service as judge of the High Court,” Mr Savenaca said.
By ASSUMPTA BUCHANAN