Gauntlett: I'm no Mother Teresa
The Judicial Service Commission interview of Jeremy Gauntlett SC yesterday morning had far less drama than expected, with the commissioners and Gauntlett all on their best behaviour.
The JSC has overlooked Gauntlett for appointment three times - once for the Western Cape High Court and twice for the Constitutional Court - evoking intense criticism and fury in some quarters of the legal fraternity.
A blistering 20-page submission to the JSC was made on Monday by former University of Cape Town deputy registrar Paul Ngobeni opposing Gauntlett's appointment to the Western Cape bench. And there was a last-minute flurry of correspondence in support of Gauntlett.
The commissioners were restrained and respectful in their questioning of Gauntlett, which included queries about his exchange with Ngobeni, his relationship with Judge President John Hlophe and his reputation for being "acerbic".
Referring to Ngobeni's submissions, Gauntlett said what he found "most distressing" about the last three days was that "it's very unfair, and it's very easy, to knock down somebody by saying all they are is somebody of a certain dermatology and background, and they don't give a damn".
To questions on his judicial temperament, Gauntlett readily admitted that, as counsel, he was ''not, by any claim, Mother Teresa'' and that he had an ''impatient side''.
But he said that in all his years as counsel and his 14 years on the bench of the appeal court of Lesotho, with 60 delivered judgments on that court, and as an acting judge in Cape Town, there had never been a complaint about him in his judicial capacity.
Commissioner Dumisa Ntsebeza SC said he was concerned that, if Gauntlett were appointed, he would have a "toxic" relationship with Hlophe.
Gauntlett is on the board of Freedom Under Law, which brought a complaint to the JSC about Hlophe. But Gauntlett did not see cause for concern.
He said Hlophe had said that he did not see working with Gauntlett as a problem, and he had no objection to working with Hlophe. - I-Net Bridge