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Dec 8, 2017

Marilyn Williams Moving Up to Supreme Court

Marilyn Williams

In other judicial news, the complement of the Supreme Court is to increase by two starting in January. One of the appointees is none other than attorney Marilyn Williams, a former political candidate for the ruling United Democratic Party in the Albert division in 2003. Since then Williams has ascended the ranks, being a Senator, head of the Financial Intelligence Unit and currently chair of the Integrity Commission. But did politics pave her way to the new post? Not according to Prime Minister Dean Barrow, who says the Judicial and Legal Services Commission did most of the heavy lifting. All that is left is his advice, with the concurrence of the Leader of the Opposition, to the Governor General. The Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin is likely to be grateful for the new hires, even as he continues to clear his own backlog of judgments to be delivered.

 

Dean Barrow

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“Let us be very clear as to how her appointment came about: in terms of the judges of the Court of Appeal, I am the decider, I am the decision-maker; in terms of justices of the Supreme Court, I am not. And in this case, it was the Judicial and Legal Services Commission that saw the need for two additional judges. As I understand it – by the time it got to me and I saw the history – the J.L.S.C., chaired by the Chief Justice, advertised the vacancies, not just in Belize, apparently, perhaps Caribbean-wide; received applications. They sat, went through those applications, came up with a shortlist, interviewed those that were on the shortlist and thereafter they came to their choice. Now Constitutionally, I still have to concur and advise the Governor General after consulting with the Leader of the Opposition; I did all that. But the point I made to the Leader of the Opposition – this does not originate with me, this was not initiated by me, and so the question of Marilyn’s political activities or certainly her political candidacy – long ago and far away – I don’t know if that was a consideration in terms of the people on the Judicial and Legal Services Commission. But if it was, clearly they are convinced that that will not interfere with her ability to deliver justice in an unbiased way and in accordance with the oath that she will swear once the Commission comes through.”

 

Reporter

“How will it work, insofar as you still have persons, I believe, assisting the Chief Justice; it’s an awful thing to say, but is he working according to schedule?”

 

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“I don’t know – you’d have to ask the Attorney General. I hear anecdotally that he is delivering judgments. And I don’t know that there is anybody helping him; he rejected the notion of retired judges coming from abroad. He is obviously a proud man and I commend him – he said, no; that happens, what’s to stop people from thinking the judgments aren’t really his? So, as far as I understand, what he is producing he is producing entirely on his own, and hallelujah.”

 

 

The Prime Minister said he would begin looking immediately for a replacement for Williams as chair of the Integrity Commission.

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