Members of the legal profession are among the most respected people in the society, largely because of how they carry themselves in the corridors of justice.
Justice Smokin Wanjala of the Supreme Court of Kenya is one of the legal minds who have won the admiration of many, judging from his grounded and sober personality when presiding over matters in the courts with the 2017 Presidential Petition, arguably, standing out.
However, a video of the judge giving his speech at the burial ceremony of Rtd. Justice Lawrence Peter Ouna in Busia County on Saturday, February 6 has taken many aback.
Mourners got the see the other side of Justice Wanjala, who was visibly intoxicated.
In the two-minute video that has surfaced on social media, Justice Wanjala addressed the mourners in his local dialect but his speech was hazy.
His movement was not stable as he staggered, like a drunk man.
To the amazement of the mourners, Justice Wanjala shelved his no-nonsense demeanour, to brag about his academic and professional achievements.
“I am well learned. I went to university and attained a degree. I also undertook my masters at Columbia University. I learnt English and I am a fluent speaker,” he said in a hazy speech amid laughter from the crowd.
He went ahead to praise the deceased describing him as “a great man”.
Justice Wanjala holds a PhD in law from the University of Ghent, Belgium. He also holds a Master of Laws degree from the Columbia University in the United States and a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) degree from the University of Nairobi.
Before his appointment to the Supreme Court of Kenya, Justice Wanjala had been a Law Lecturer at the University of Nairobi for 20 years (1986-2004) where he offered instruction in diverse areas of law including, Land Law, International Law, Human Rights Law, Criminal Law and Law of the Sea.
He was appointed as Assistant Director of the defunct Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission (KACC), in October 2004 where he served in that capacity until 2009.
In 2012, Justice Wanjala received the Presidential Award of the Chief of the Order of the Burning Spear (CBS) [First Class], the 4th Highest Civilian Award in Kenya, for his distinguished service to the public.
In 2016, Justice Wanjala was among six people shortlisted for the position of Chief Justice. He later lost to Justice David Maraga.
In September 2017, he was one of four judges who voted to nullify President Uhuru Kenyatta’s win in the August 2017 presidential election.