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Sep 23, 2011

Special Sitting of the Supreme Court for new Chief Justice

A special sitting of the Supreme Court was held this morning for the newly sworn-in Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin. Present were members of the judiciary and the legal profession. CJ Benjamin took the oath before Governor General Sir Colville Young to replace Acting Chief Justice Samuel Awich and succeed former Chief Justice Abdulai Conteh in mid-September but today was his first appearance on the bench. The chief justice assumes office at a time when the Bar has been at odds with the government and in his inaugural address, justice Benjamin outlined that he intends to improve the administration of justice. The CJ has met with the movers and shakers in the court system and with the Bar Association President Jacqueline Marshalleck.

Kenneth Benjamin, Chief Justice

Kenneth Benjamin

“Since arriving in Belize two weeks ago I’ve met with the key players of the judicial system including the honorable attorney general and senior members of the staff of the Supreme Court Registry and of the other registries falling under the Registrar General.  The judges have met as a group and we have addressed introductory matters and Mr. Courtenay you may be pleased to know that we have addressed issues of mediation and issues of judicial education.  I’ve also had meetings with the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Chief Magistrate Designate, the Director of the Family Court and the Deputy Registrar of the Supreme Court Registry.  These meetings have covered not only the transfer and assimilation of information but also the identification of key outstanding issues demanding attention in both the short and long term.  Consequently, it follows that these consultations must continue into the immediate and far future if we are to make the delivery of justice improved over time.  The president of the Bar Association paid a call upon me that was intended to be a courtesy call; however, it developed into more than a courtesy call and ended up being an extended consultation which I expect will continue very soon.  The exchange delved into matters and subject areas of concern of the practicing legal fraternity.  It cannot be gainsaid that notwithstanding the intensity of the discussions issues have been barely broached and much follow-up action is anticipated.  At the interim I’m at liberty to state that I’ve invited the president to consider my proposal for a bench/bar committee to address issues of common interest for the improvement of the administration of justice.”

Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin, a native of Guyana, comes highly decorated having served twenty-three years in various capacities of the judicial system as Chief Magistrate in Antigua & Barbuda, judge of the Criminal Division of the High Court in St. Lucia and High Court Judge at the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court.

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