Freelance journalist Hopewell Chin’ono, through his lawyers yesterday, made oral submissions in support of his application to have the magistrate presiding over his matter to recuse himself.
Chin’ono, represented by Advocate Taona Nyamakura, based their application solely on the fact that the presiding magistrate Ngoni Nduna made decision to remove his legal practitioner from representing him, a ruling which he is contesting at the High Court suggesting judicial impropriety and bias.
Nyamakura added: “The gross irregularities in the proceedings in light of the facts, invite an inference that the judicial officer was motivated by bias and/or malice. In view of the above, the issue now is whether the same judicial officer can proceed in the matter without raising serious questions on the fairness of the proceedings going forward.”
The State represented by Whisper Mabhaudhi and Tendai Shonhai opposed the application arguing that the application was improperly placed before the court because the issue was already being determined in the High Court, so the matter cannot be placed before two courts.
“Recusal is the stepping aside or disqualification of a judicial officer from a case on the ground of personal interest in the matter, bias, prejudice or conflict of interest. There is no basis to believe that the magistrate is conflicted or in any way incapacitated as to warrant his recusal.
“Judicial officers must resist the tendency to be bullied by applicants who believe that justice means decisions made in their favour. Litigants including the applicant must accept decisions by courts without personalising issues.
“The issue is under consideration at the High Court in the review application. Applicant must save his energy for the review. This honourable court cannot review its decision. The applicant’s disqualified lawyer is to blame for his predicament. She should have conducted herself in a dignified way. Wherefore, the State prays that the application be dismissed for lack of merit,” said the State in its submissions.
Magistrate Nduna remanded the matter to November 10 for ruling.
Chin’ono is charged with incitement to commit public violence or alternatively incitement to participate in a gathering with the intent to promote public violence by posting messages through his Twitter handle between March 1 and July 20 this year.