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Jun 26, 2018

CCJ Hears Case about Justice Samuel Awich in the Belize Judiciary

Samuel Awich

The Caribbean Court of Justice today heard arguments concerning a judge in the Belize judiciary. In 2012, Dean Boyce and the British Caribbean Bank Limited, as well as Lord Michael Ashcroft, challenged the lawfulness of a decision made by the Judicial and Legal Services Commission.  That autonomous, body which recommends the hiring of judges and other judicial officers within the Attorney General’s ministry, chose not to refer a complaint against former Supreme Court Justice Samuel Awich to the Belize Advisory Council.  Although Justice Awich has since been elevated to the appellate bench, the matter has meandered its way through the judicial circuit and today was heard in the Caribbean Court of Justice. The appellants argue that the JLC should determine whether Justice Awich should be investigated for misbehavior given the long delays in delivery of judgments.   This morning, Senior Counsel Eamon Courtenay opened his presentation by reading from a previous decision handed down by Justice Courtney Abel who presided over the matter in the Supreme Court.

 

Eamon Courtenay

Eamon Courtenay, Attorney for Belize Bank Ltd.

“Upon the court having found that Justice Awich’s prior conduct as Supreme Court judge was not insignificant and may have been relevant to the consideration by the Judicial and Legal Services Commission of whether or not to refer for investigation to the Belize Advisory Council the matter of his removal as a Court of Appeal judge.  And upon the court having found that the Judicial and Legal Services Commission was wrong as a matter of principle to have found that the request for the removal of Justice Awich was misplaced and misguided, premature as his appointment to a new office of a Justice of Appeal was the commencement of a new situation, but that the Judicial and Legal Services Commission ought to have engaged in a consideration of the relevance of Justice Awich’s alleged misbehavior and/or inabilities as a Supreme Court Justice functioning as a Court of Appeal judge.  Upon the court having found that the evidence put before the Judicial and Legal Services Commission was capable of amounting to and therefore could have amounted to misbehavior and our inability to discharge the functions of the office related to the office of the Court of Appeal and therefore that the Judicial and Legal Services Commission did not properly exercise its discretionary power with regards to its consideration of the passing of the complaints to the Belize Advisory Council.  The court thus declares that Justice of Appeal Awich’s conduct as a Supreme Court judge prior to his appointment as Justice of Appeal is relevant to the consideration of the question of inability to perform the functions of office or misbehavior under Section 102-2 of the constitution in the Judicial and Legal Services Commission consideration of the claimant’s complaint.  Two: the decision of the Judicial and Legal Services Commission dated November 14th, 2012, declining to refer the claimant’s complaint is unlawful, void and of no effect and it is hereby ordered that the claimant’s complaint against Justice Awich is referred back to the Judicial and Legal Services Commission for it to reconsider its position.”

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