The South African public’s understanding of the long-running spat between the Cape Judge President, on the one hand, and Justices of the Constitutional Court acting as an institutional block, on the other, seems informed by much factual ellipsis.
In this short paper, I try to present some of the facts that, in my assessment, seem to have disappeared from public discourse on this case, resulting in some members of the public and analysts making some of the most extraordinary statements about the case. In the process I make some of my own observations about those facts which, if considered, may in my assessment possibly have resulted in a different outcome from the one recently reached by the Judicial Conduct Tribunal of the South African Judicial Service Commission on 9 April 2021.
In writing this paper, I am moved by a concern about the dominant fact-free narrative that seems to be treated as authoritative in public commentary on this case. My purpose, therefore, as the Code of Conduct for Legal Practitioners allows, is to help guide public understanding of the issues that have arisen or may yet arise in the course of the further conduct of this process, if any should follow.
As you read this paper, be aware that I was part of the Judge President’s legal team in 2008 until April 2009.