Justice David Maraga, a staunch Christian who said that he would give up his job at the Judiciary if he is forced to work on Saturday, his day of worship, has been nominated as Kenya’s next Chief Justice.
Justice Maraga said his actions were motivated by his religion and standing in his church, the Seventh Day Adventist (SDA), where he served as a church elder, the second senior-most position in a church after a pastor.
During his vetting by the Judicial Service Commission, he portrayed himself as having an untainted past, a man of integrity and also as an insider who understands the workings of the Judiciary, something that former Chief Justice Willy Mutunga was accused of being weak in.
Justice Maraga was one of the three Court of Appeal judges who applied for the position of Chief Justice.
As a judge, he has a stellar reputation in the legal fraternity. A darling of lawyers, he is described as punctual, serious with cases before him and in full control of the court.
Several lawyers from Nairobi attended his “eviction party” after his transfer from the Mombasa High Court to Kisumu.
“He is a very strict man in his work and prefers to do his job with as little controversy as possible,” says lawyer Assa Nyakundi.
Before his appointment as a judge of the High Court, Justice Maraga was in private practice in Nakuru for 25 years, initially as a partner in the same law firm with lawyer Pravin Bowry.
“Unlike Mr Bowry, Justice Maraga did not have a distinguished career while in private practice. There is little which we can remember that he achieved,” says lawyer Steve Mogaka.
Justice Maraga received his law degree from the University of Nairobi in 1977 and he is currently pursuing a master’s degree at the same university.
After law school, he worked in private practice in Nakuru until 2003, when he joined the High Court as a judge, a beneficiary of the Narc dream that sought to recruit new names to breathe vigour into the rotten Judiciary.
His first posting was in Mombasa, where he worked for four and a half years. In early 2008, he was transferred to Nakuru before moving again in 2011 to Nairobi.
At the High Court in Nairobi, he served at the Constitutional Review Division before becoming the head of the Family Division. In December 2011, he was promoted to the Court of Appeal.
Justice Maraga has served in many capacities in the Judiciary, including the Judiciary Committee on Elections, the tribunal investigating corruption allegations against suspended judge Joseph Mutava and at the Law Society of Kenya's Continuous Legal Education Seminars.
As chairman of the Judiciary Committee on Elections, a standing committee that oversees the Judiciary's hearing of election petitions, he was praised for ensuring that most of the matters were heard and determined promptly.