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Jan 9, 2018

Historic Five Women on Supreme Court Bench

Kenneth Benjamin

Time does fly, but it was twelve years ago, on the occasion of the Supreme Court opening in 2006 that Supreme Court Justice Michelle Arana was sworn in by then-Chief Justice Doctor Abdulai Conteh as Belize’s first female Supreme Court judge. Now for the first time, with the swearing-in of Marilyn Williams on Friday and her ascending the bench on Monday, there are five women on the bench compared to four men including current Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin. Following in Justice Arana’s footsteps are noted attorney Antoinette Moore, also who was appointed a judge and is working in the criminal division. In the civil division, Justices Sonya Young and Shona Griffith are presiding. The Chief Justice and the Attorney General formally welcomed Williams during Monday’s ceremonies.


Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin, Supreme Court of Belize

“The Judiciary began 2017 with a reduced compliment of judges in the criminal division, and that state of affairs continued for the entire year. That vacancy has now been addressed with the appointment of a Justice of the Supreme Court in the person of the Honorable Madam Justice Marilyn Williams. Her Ladyship was sworn in on Friday, January fifth, 2018, and she will take up duties in the criminal division, and assigned to the central district in Belize City. She is the holder of a Jurist Doctorate degree, and she was admitted to practice in Belize in 1999. Prior to that, she served as crown counsel in the Attorney General’s Ministry, and senior crown counsel in the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, during the period 1994 to 1999. She has served as Director of the Financial Intelligence Unit for six years, and has practiced privately as an attorney at law. We welcome Justice Williams to the bench, and offer the full support of the Judiciary.”


Michael Peyrefitte, Attorney General
“My Lord, I must start from the outset, by congratulating and thanking Justice Marilyn Williams for taking up appointment as a judge of the Supreme Court, and for being willing to leave her illustrious private practice, My Lord, and offer herself for service to the Judiciary and the country. I know Justice Williams both personally and professionally, and I can boldly say, My Lord, that Justice Williams is the embodiment of quality in all respects.”


Belize’s last two Chief Magistrates – Sharon Frazer and predecessor Ann-Marie Smith – are female, and there is a healthy complement of magistrates at main and Family Court level, but only one Court of Appeal justice has been female – former Supreme Court Justice Minnet Hafiz-Bertram.

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