The legal community in the Northern Bahamas Region celebrated the opening of the 2020 Legal Year with a special service, parade and reception on January 9, 2020, at Pro Cathedral of Christ the King at 10:00 a.m.
Chief Justice Brian Moree, QC was joined by justices, magistrates and members of the Bahamas Bar Association along government department heads and officers of the Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF) Thursday morning, as they filled the church’s pews.
Rev. Marie Roach-Hepburn, Curate officiated; Canon Norman Lightbourne, Rector, delivered the sermon.
The service began with the hymn ‘Praise to the Lord Almighty’ with organists Kevin Tomlinson and Stephana J. Saunders, Deputy Registrar of the Supreme Court.
Stipendiary and Circuit Magistrate Charlton Smith read the first reading taken from Romans 12: 9-21.
Canon Lightbourne in his sermon noted that the legal community has an enormous responsibility to the country. “To whom much is given, much is required. You are the dispensers of justice; you are the guardians of the law.”
Referring to the judiciary as “gatekeepers,” Canon Lightbourne remained the court officials that they must remain vigilant. “All we ask of you is that you help us see to it that justice is administered properly.”
He also urged them to help members of the public understand their rights in this country, such as freedom of speech.
Canon Lightbourne expressed that some seek to stifle those rights. “Those days are stifling we are done with it.”
He acknowledged that the upcoming Majority Rule holiday, recognized on January 10, is a testament to that as it marked a day of achieving equal rights in the Bahamas.
“We wish never to go to those dark days; we are children of light and we will never allow anyone to extinguish that light,” he said.
He furthered that there are a lot of people in the country who wish to speak up more but feel unable to do so. “We must all work together to improve the country, to build a brighter, better and more buoyant Bahamaland.”
He said that Bahamians must also work together to strengthen familial bonds, because the country is only as strong as its weakest family.
“We are at a crisis point in this country when it comes to family life,” he said, noting that there is a need for stronger families in The Bahamas.
“More can be done, more must be done to save our families,” he stressed, adding that this may contribute to curtailing the acts of violence occurring in local schools.
Canon Lightbourne furthered that persons should aspire to build a Bahamas where the judiciary is independent and politicians will know their place.
“A Bahamas where the judiciary doesn’t feel as if the politicians are interfering,” he said.
He added that a judiciary’s independence is paramount to having a better Bahamas.
Canon Lightbourne expressed that too often politicians have too much influence.
He acknowledged that although these things cannot be done overnight and changes will take a great amount of money, they would never happen if persons are not productive. “We can find this money when we want to.”
Canon Lightbourne admitted that he does not want to “beat up” on politicians, but he is here to speak truth.
He said that it is important for anyone to be allowed proper justice whether they are wealthy or poor.
Following the service, members of the judiciary marched to the Garnet Levarity Justice Centre, where the Supreme and Magistrate Courts are located for their annual legal year opening photos.
Chief Justice Brian Moree noted that the opening marks yet another year of service for the Bahamas Judiciary and has a lot of meaning behind it.
“It’s something which, actually, most lawyers are quite fond of,” he said.