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I’m not bipolar, I’m schizophrenic, jokes Chief Justice

Constitution conference speech: Ian Kawaley (Photograph by Akil Simmons_

The Chief Justice hit back yesterday at a claim by a government minister that dealing with him was like dealing with someone with a mental illness.

Ian Kawaley said: “I don’t think that I’m bipolar — as one politician recently described me.

“I think the correct medical term would be schizophrenic.”

The comments drew laughter and applause from his audience.

Mr Justice Kawaley told attendees at a conference on the Constitution that he grew up in a “diverse” household.

He explained: “It taught me that just because you like somebody, doesn’t mean you can’t disagree with them.”

Mr Justice Kawaley said his mother was a liberal and his father was a conservative.

He added that his parents’ views on religion also differed.

Mr Justice Kawaley said: “With this background, you can see that it might be said, by some, that I’m bipolar ... I think the correct medical term would be schizophrenic.”

The Chief Justice was speaking after Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch, Minister of Public Works, mounted an attack on him in the House of Assembly last week over a public statement on staff shortages in the courts.

Mr Justice Kawaley and Acting Registrar Alexandra Wheatley said in a joint statement that successive attorneys-general had failed to tackle a staffing crisis that had crippled the court system.

Colonel Burch accused the Chief Justice of sitting “silent and mute for five years” but “all of a sudden, as you are about to exit stage left, you find your voice”.

He added: “Will the real Chief Justice please stand up — it’s like having a bipolar person in the post.”

Colonel Burch added he believed it was “something to do with who is sitting on government benches”.

The attack came despite Mr Justice Kawaley’s concerns being aired in public in 2013 under the former One Bermuda Alliance government.

The Chief Justice spoke out again about the problem in January last year, six months before the General Election that propelled the Progressive Labour Party to power.