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Jul 1, 2022

Bar Association Speaks on Justice Blenman’s Intended Appointment as Chief Justice

The appointment of a new presiding judge to lead the High Court, an amalgamation of the various arms of the justice system, will see Acting Chief Justice Michelle Arana being elevated to the Court of Appeal bench. She will be succeeded in a full-time capacity by Justice Louise Esther Blenman, as the highest ranking court officer in the judiciary. The recommendation for Blenman’s appointment comes from the Bar Association of Belize whose involvement in the selection process included participation in an interview panel where pertinent questions were put to several candidates. No Belizean jurist applied for the post and there has been public concern surrounding Blenman’s intended appointment. Following a release from the Bar Association on June twenty-ninth, News Five sat with Senior Counsel Andrew Marshalleck, President of the Bar Association of Belize. He explained the process, as well as the subsequent recommendation to the Office of the Prime Minister.

 

Andrew Marshalleck

Andrew Marshalleck, President, Bar Association

“As is usually the case, the post was advertised, both locally and internationally, and then applications were received and the bar’s involvement normally comes at the interview process, in that we form a part of the interview panel that is appointed to interview the prospective candidates. We don’t get to choose who is appointed.  We only get to recommend who we think is the best choice based on the interview process.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“There is this notion that, perhaps, the acting chief justice was glossed over.  I understand that she never applied for the job, but, perhaps, in some corners people are thinking well, she was in that acting capacity for at least a year and a half or so. Perhaps the job or first preference should have been given to have her confirmed.”

 

Andrew Marshalleck

“I’m not aware of any such practice.  To the contrary, that has never been the case.  When there’s a vacancy in the office, the vacancy is advertised and anybody who meets the qualifications can apply for consideration for appointment to the post.  The acting chief justice was free to apply and she having acted and being able to demonstrate a track record in the office may have given her an advantage in the application process.  But having acted doesn’t mean that you automatically get appointment without having to participate in that process.  I mean, that has never been the case.  The last person who held the office in an acting capacity was, I believe, Mr. Justice Samuel Awich and he served in an acting capacity for a number of years.  He was never appointed.  He was elevated to the Court of Appeal.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“Which is similar to what is being proposed in the case of Justice Arana.”

 

Andrew Marshalleck

“Yes, it looks very much like the same thing.”


Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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