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Apr 2, 2001

New justice sworn in at Supreme Court

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It certainly wasn’t planned that way, but just as one justice of the Supreme Court was suspended, another has appeared to take his place. Ann-Marie Williams was on hand this morning for the swearing in.

Ann-Marie Williams, Reporting

Justice Samuel Lungole-Awich officially took his oath of office this morning and joined his colleagues on the bench of the Belize Supreme Court.

The oath was administered by Chief Justice Abdulai Conteh at a special sitting of the Supreme Court in the Chief Justice’s chambers.

Adbulai Conteh, Chief Justice

“I have every confidence that he will be a boon to the judiciary of Belize with his experience in comparative Commonwealth jurisprudence. I’m sure before too long the law report or at least the judgements of the Belize Supreme Court will be adorned with some jewels, planning and wisdom from Mr. Justice Awich. It gives me great pleasure to welcome Justice Awich on the bench.”

Awich holds a bachelor of law degree from Makerere University in Uganda and a diploma in legal practice from the Uganda Law Development Centre.

He started his professional career as a state counsel in his native Uganda and has since distinguished himself as a career judge having worked as a Senior Magistrate, Deputy Registrar, Barrister and High Court Judge in the Solomon Islands in the Pacific.

Samuel Lungole-Awich

“I shall embark on my duties with the assumption that the executive, that is the government, the legislature and the general public in Belize value the independence of the judiciary. I am pleased to report that in my previous expatriate postings, I never had to complain about interference with my judicial duties. The order and peace in Belize deserves maintaining and even improving upon. On an early occasion such as this, I say that I viewed the appointment of a judge as a sentence on the appointee, requiring him to keep strict disciplined conduct for life. That was my sentence then and I am to report today that I have not had the sentence reprieved.”

President of the Bar Association, Derek Courtenay, took time out to welcome the new judge.

Derek Courtenay, President, Bar Association

“I would wish to pledge our support in every way that we can to preserve the independence, the autonomy and the integrity of the judiciary. And I would hope that you will find sir, that everything that we do is in support of you in the exercise of your function as a member of the Judiciary.”

And this member of the judiciary comes well armed.

Derek Courtenay

“It is gratifying to learn that you first of all have had some experience in private practice. So often practitioners are disturbed that judges, who are in any event, a little remote from what happens on the floor, are even more remote because they have had no experience in private practice. I am happy to see that among your other accomplishments you have so to speak, “put your toe in the water of private practice”.

Attorney General Godfrey Smith is hoping too as he says Justice Awich comes at a time when the legal system is emerging from a long period of ill health.

Godfrey Smith, Attorney General

“The ailments that I speak of are contain Milords in a plan of action which was endorsed by the Bar Association and the Government of Belize. But equally in that plan of action was set out our objectives and aims under the various heads within the legal system, through which we hope to bring about an improvement in the administration of justice. Again, I will not take time to detail these since I spoke about them at length at the opening of the Supreme Court earlier in January. But Milord, if there be no object from any side, I would wish to introduce into evidence in these proceedings a copy of the plan of action for presentation to Mr. Justice Awich.”

Ann-Marie Williams for News 5.

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