Barely two hours after the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) finished interviewing candidates for the vacant position of Supreme Court judge, the panel came out of their conclave to announce that they had picked on the president of the Court of Appeal for the job.
Justice William Ouko's 33-year journey in the Judiciary will lead him to the highest court in the land, should President Uhuru Kenyatta and Parliament approve his nomination.
The position fell vacant last year following the retirement of Justice Jackton Boma Ojwang, and it will now serve as a reprieve for Justice Ouko, who last week lost his bid to become Kenya's 15th Chief Justice.
Tables will now be turned for Justice Ouko at the Supreme Court. Since 2018, Chief Justice nominee Martha Karambu Koome has been reporting to him.
Justice Ojwang will now report to Justice Koome, should their respective nominations get approvals.
JSC vice-chairperson Olive Mugenda, alongside other commissioners, remained at the interviewing room where they deliberated before they settled on 60-year-old Justice Ouko after two hours of deliberation.
“After deliberations this afternoon and careful consideration of the performance of the various candidates who were interviewed for the position of judge of Supreme Court, the commission has today recommended for appointment Hon Mr Justice Ouko William OKello, CBS, EBS, President of the Court of Appeal as judge Supreme Court,” Prof Mugenda announced at 4.45pm.
She said that they had already submitted his name to President Uhuru Kenyatta for appointment.
The commissioners picked Justice Ouko after interviewing judges Said Juma Chitembwe, Mathew Nduma Nderi, David Marete, Joseph Sergon and lawyers Nyaberi Justry, Patrick Lumumba and Ms Yano Alice Jepkoech.
Justice Ouko takes with him a wealth of experience, having served in the lower courts for 33 years now.
He said humility and patience are key pillars which he embraced after joining the Judiciary as district magistrate II while hardly 26 years old.
The soft-spoken jurist told the JSC he will embrace collegiality and the doctrine of necessity as he walks into the shoes of constitutional law giant, Justice Ojwang.
Justice Ouko joined the Judiciary 1987 as district magistrate II.
He was served as Deputy Registrar, Senior Deputy Registrar and Principal Deputy Registrar between 1990 and1997.
He was elevated Chief Court Administrator between 1997 and 2002, Registrar of the High Court (2002-2004). He was later appointed a judge of the High Court and served in Malindi, Meru and Nakuru between 2004 and 2012 when he was elevated to be a judge of the Court of Appeal.
He was appointed the President of Court of Appeal in 2018.