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Oct 20, 2017

No help for C.J. on overdue judgments

The Bar Association has been critical of the backlog of judgment by the Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin, so much so that the Prime Minister went on record several weeks ago to inform that outside assistance would be given to the C.J. to fulfill his workload. But now, a decision has been taken not to have a pair of judges from the wider Caribbean jurisdiction come in and help with the writing of judgments.  According to Attorney General Michael Peyrefitte, preparations were already underway to provide support for the Chief Justice when they thought better of it.  The practice of having other jurists aid in the dispensation of justice, says Peyrefitte, is nothing new to the court system, but its introduction to Belize would have raised serious eyebrows by others outside of the judiciary.

 

Michael Peyrefitte, Attorney General

Michael Peyrefitte

“When the situation became really serious with the supposed leakage of what the bar association had discussed in one of their meetings the matter became a national issue and rightly so because the delivery of judgments is extremely important in the dispensation of justice, in general.  When the Chief Justice indicated to me that he would be taking a leave of absence to write the judgment, the news started to go around the Caribbean and the world, I mean we all have an interest to ensure that our judiciaries and our judicial systems are running in tip top shape with each other.  So the president of the CCJ and other eminent jurists reached out to the Chief Justice offering help and the Chief Justice being mature and responsible also was having discussions with different people so as to make sure that he could deliver these judgments on time.  The president of the CCJ, subsequent to one of the discussions with the Chief Justice and other jurists, made a suggestion.  He suggested that two judges be sent here and to help the Chief Justice in the researching of law and stuff like that in putting the judgments together.  You have to understand that this is not a strange phenomenon, judges seek help all the time.  In the mighty United States of America, Supreme Court judges really have their clerks write the judgments and they sign.  It’s not unusual, you have to agree to the judgment in any way.  There are some aspects to the judgment that only the judge hearing the case can attest to, like demeanor of witnesses and the evidence itself.  So the judges would not have been coming into Belize to write the judgments for the Chief Justice and to replace him, that’s not the case at all, even if that was going to happen.”

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