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Jan 15, 2016

Magistrates and Support Staff on Two Day Retreat

The lower courts across the country suspended session today to give way to magistrates and their support staff to meet in a two day retreat at the Best Western Belize Biltmore Plaza in Belize City. The conference is looking at several areas in which the judicial system can become more efficient. Chief among the discussions is the proposed establishment of a drug treatment court and the expansion of mediation to the civil courts. The latter is a concept that was introduced back in 2014 in the Supreme Court and because of its success the process will now be used at the lower courts. Chief Magistrate Ann Marie Smith says the delay in delivery of cases will also be discussed.

 

Ann Marie Smith, Chief Magistrate

“We saw the progress and we saw the benefits of mediation in the Supreme Court and we realized that we need mediation in the civil court in the Magistrate’s Court. There are a lot of matters that come before court that really don’t have to come to trial. If it can be mediated, it is beneficial to us in terms of time and it is also beneficial to the litigants because their matter gets through the system better. And so that’s the reason why we are looking at mediation in the civil court at the Magistrate’s Level.”

 

Duane Moody

“Is the retreat going to also focus on the issue of the backlog in case?”

 

Ann Marie Smith

Ann Marie Smith

“Yes…later on, I think Justice Moore should be with us at eleven o’clock and Justice Moore is going to talk about the criminal procedure rules. And you know that the new criminal procedure rules are to look at delay within the system—not just for Magistrate’s Court, but for Supreme Court also. So Justice Moore is going to be coming to look at that.”

 

Duane Moody

“It’s a real comprehensive event for the judiciary?”

 

Ann Marie Smith

“Yes it is indeed. Support staff will be having their own section; they are going to be looking at a healthy lifestyle. They are going to also hear from a consultant from the Ministry of Public Service who will be looking at the reclassification of some of their jobs. So they are going to be dealing with that later on today as well. So we brought the whole Magistrate’s Court is here today; support staff and magistrates.”

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