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Dec 11, 2017

C.J. Needs More Time for Court Judgments

Kenneth Benjamin

The overwhelming backlog of cases that have inundated Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin continues to weigh down on his ability to mete out justice in a timely manner.  When the Bar Association of Belize called him out for the surfeit of pending decisions, the CJ said he would dispense with those matters by December fifteenth.  That deadline is less than five days away and, by the look of it, CJ Benjamin won’t be able to clear his desk before the end of the legal year.  According to Attorney General Michael Peyrefitte, two-thirds of the thirty-two cases that have been languishing on his desk have been decided upon.  The remainder, says the A.G., will have to be dealt with during the 2018 legal calendar, and the CJ must find time to conclude those cases.

 

Isani Cayetano

“In respect of the Chief Justice and the backlog of cases that he would have had to dispense with by mid-December, where are we insofar as the work ahead for the Chief Justice?”

 

Michael Peyrefitte

Michael Peyrefitte, Attorney General

“Well it would have been extremely difficult for him, given the time frame, to have completed all thirty-two judgments.  But a couple weeks ago, he told me that he had full intention of completing at least twenty-two of them.  Yesterday he told me that he did complete twenty-two of the judgments and so that he is still ten short, but out of the thirty-two, we can say that he has concluded a significant number of those judgments.  So I am sure the bar association will take a position on it, but I think that the Chief Justice has now fully appreciated, I mean he always did appreciate the impact of not delivering the judgments, but he has fully appreciated the extreme seriousness of it.  So from now on we hope that he would do more to ensure that that type of backlog does not build up anymore and he has every confidence of that going forward.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“Nonetheless, the legal year is winding down, we come back in January with a new calendar but he will still be ten cases behind, so to speak.  How does one develop any optimism seeing as though he would still be going in with sort of a deficit?”

 

Michael Peyrefitte

“Well we will have to see what happens.  He is fully aware that he asked for about mid-December to tackle the judgments.  He hasn’t done all of them.  Come next year he will have to find the time in addition to the duties that he has on a day-to-day basis.  He just has to find the time to produce them and it’s not that he doesn’t want to produce them.  He wants to produce them, so let’s see what happens in the New Year.”

 

The backlog in the delivery of judgments is seen as justice denied. Some of the cases go back to 2010. 

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