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By Julia Daia-Bore

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (February 7, 2001 - The National/PINA Nius Online)---Papua New Guinea now has its first national woman judge. She is 40-year-old Catherine Kodana Davani of Dorom Village, Rigo, in Central province.

Mrs. Davani is one of four additional judges appointed to the National Court bench by the Judicial and Legal Services Commission (JLSC) on January 26 this year.

The landmark appointment was publicly announced yesterday in Mount Hagen by the JLSC Chairman and Justice Minister, Puri Ruing. The other three judges appointed are Ellenas Batari, Panuel Mogish and Salatiel Lenalia.

The four appointments bring to 18 the number of judges in the National and Supreme courts of Papua New Guinea. Mr. Ruing said the appointments were necessary to enable the national judicial system to work more effectively and efficiently.

Mr. Ruing said Mrs. Davani's appointment is a mark of the ministry's trust, confidence and recognition of her professional abilities.

"Her appointment is one of profound historical significance, and one of special joy to all Papua New Guineans, particularly for the judiciary and those associated with the law in their various capacities."

This appointment is also a recognition that PNG women lawyers can contribute meaningfully to the administration of law and justice, Mr. Ruing said.

Mrs. Davani, a former PNG soccer representative, is currently a senior associate with the law firm Blake Dawson Waldron in downtown Port Moresby, where she has worked since March last year.

Prior to that, she worked extensively with other legal firms – Sheppard Lawyers (1994-March 2000) and Gadens Lawyers (Feb 1990-1994). She was with the Public Solicitor's Office from 1984 to 1990.

Most of her legal practice has involved litigation, which entails being a courtroom lawyer dealing with civil cases.

Mrs. Davani holds a Masters Degree from the University of Sydney (1987-1988) and a Bachelor of Law from the University of PNG (July 1982).

The eldest in a family of six, Mrs. Davani is herself a mother of five sons whose ages range between 16 and 23 -- four of them her own and one adopted.

Her husband, John Davani, was a lecturer at the University of PNG for more than 20 years and is now with a private institution.

The other appointees -- Mr. Batari, Mr. Mogish and Mr. Lenalia -- are also senior members within the judiciary system.

Mr. Batari is senior in the legal fraternity, having served in top legal positions including Public Solicitor, and was recently appointed an Acting Judge of the National Court. He has an extensive and impressive practice record in this jurisdiction.

Mr. Mogish filled with distinction the Office of the Public Prosecutor, to which he brought an insistence on discipline that proved to be a model.

Mr. Lenalia is a senior provincial magistrate and until recently was an Acting Judge of the National Court.

Mr. Ruing said of the appointment, that the additional judges would relieve the backlog of cases and expedite the disposition of pending cases before the National and Supreme courts.

For additional reports from The National, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The National (Papua New Guinea).

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