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Oct 20, 2010

Justice Elliott Mottley resigns; he’s the third Judge to leave the Bench

The President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Elliott Mottley was showered with praises today at a special sitting of the court of Appeal by colleagues and members of the legal profession.  Last Friday, the Government issued a release announcing the (Quote) retirement of the Justice but by Monday, no less than the Bar Association referred to his departure as a resignation.  It is known that the Attorney General BQ Pitts had visited the Justice to say that his term of appointment had been cut from life to one year. Mottley is the third Justice to leave the bench at the behest of the government. He joins the former Chief Justice Abdulai Conteh whose term was not extended to even conclude the cases before him and Justice Boyd Carey who similarly left in March. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports on today’s special sitting.

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

Members of the Bar Association and the judiciary gathered inside the chamber of Acting Chief Justice Samuel Awich this afternoon to honor Justice Elliott Mottley.  Mottley, a judge in the Court of Appeal, has served Belize since January of 1999.  It’s been an eleven year tenure that has seen the Barbadian justice along with others from the Caribbean presided over several high profile cases including the removal of former Justice George Meerabux from the bench in 2002 for judicial misconduct.  Mottley learned that his service would come to an end three months ago but according to his colleague, Justice Denys Barrow, it was not foretold.

Justice Elliott Mottley, Judge, Court of Appeal

elliott mottley

“It was in August of this year that the former Chief Justice Conteh brought to my attention the amendment to the constitution.  It was then that I discovered that the terms and condition of my appointment as president of the Court of Appeal of Belize had been unilaterally altered and this was done without my knowledge and consent.  Once I became aware of this I determined that I would resign my position as president of this court.”

denys barrow

Justice Denys Barrow

“The announcement by the president of the Court of Appeal, the honorable Elliott Mottley, that he is resigning with effect from the end of the year was not foretold and has been used as fuel for the commentators’ fires.  It is especially in times like these, of heightened attention, that judges need to be true to their judicial character.”

Along the way Mottley has sat beside a number of other reputed appellate judges including justices Dennis Morrison, Manuel Sosa and Denys Barrow who together stood firmly behind his many decisions.

Justice Elliott Mottley

“I’ve had the full support of Justices Sosa, Morrison and Barrow.  As I leave the court effective the 31st of December this year I am satisfied that I leave the court with the full knowledge that it is being left in the hands of the extremely competent justices of appeal.”

Mottley, himself an experienced judge, tendered his resignation a few days ago to leave at the end of the year.  Like former Chief Justice Abdulai Conteh and Justice Boyd Carey it is reported that Mottley was forced out by the current administration.  Despite the turn of events Attorney General B.Q. Pitts commended Mottley during today’s special sitting for his remarkable ability to dispense justice fairly.

B.Q. Pitts, Attorney General

b.q. Pitts

“You have done an excellent job and have left indelible imprints on our judicial sands of time.  One has only to survey if even concerning the many judgments which you were given and it should be without difficulty to observe that not only were they impressive but they were sound and full of learning and instruction especially to those of us who resorted to your court.  You will long be remembered not only for your seriousness in posture but also for the serious attitude you displayed.”

But it wasn’t all a sad goodbye for Justice Mottley; his peers, namely Senior Counsel Simeon Sampson humorously remembered the last session Mottley presided over earlier this morning.

simeon sampson

Simeon Sampson, Attorney at Law

“And I’m happy to say that this morning again in your last session among us I was proud to be, for the final time, advocating before you.  Throughout these eleven years I can tell my colleagues that not once have you manifested any behavior in anyway resembling the bad man situation.  Your demeanor on the bench, your conduct and decision was always so firm, so cool and sometimes we try to put it over but you were always there.  So you go from Belize and wherever you go from here we are certain that you will always be shedding light and even the judicial light that you shed in Belize have made so much of an indentation upon our jurisprudence that it will always surface here and there.”

In his address Justice Mottley spoke on the failure for Belize’s appellate court to hear certain cases despite the number of appeals filed.

Justice Elliott Mottley

“My last concern to which I want to advert is something which I raised with the former Chief Justice when he was in office is the failure of appeals to take place when persons who appear before those lay magistrates actually appealed.  If you look at the records there are very few appeals that are heard that is not right.  People are sentence to four and five years imprisonment which I would say is much higher than most jurisdictions in the Commonwealth, the Caribbean Commonwealth where there are qualified magistrates and yet those appeals are not heard.”

mia mottley

Mottley’s departure for his native country will see him conferred with an honorary degree of Doctor of Laws from UWI in recognition of his distinction in law within the Caribbean.  His return however is expected to be bittersweet as his daughter Mia Mottley has been ousted from the leadership of the opposition Barbados Labor Party, a position she has held since 2008. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

The Justice’s resignation is effective at the end of December but this is the last session of the court of appeal so Justice Mottley leaves forthwith. As it now stands, Justice Dennis Morrison, who’s tenure has also been cut short, is the only other non-Belizean Justice on the Court of Appeal.


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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8 Responses for “Justice Elliott Mottley resigns; he’s the third Judge to leave the Bench”

  1. Michael MT says:

    The resignation of the president of the court of appeals is devastating in that there was a change in his tenure. The Bar has all the legal rights to provide a statement in this regard for the change that was neither discussed or debated with the input of all involved in the business of justce, both the veterans and newcomers, since this has resounding impact for the future.

    It appears now that we have a term for the President of the Appeals Court, let us pay attention to how this entire scenario is going to play itself out. We should be watchful of his successor, and pray it is not family. There are legal situations emanating from our takeover of BTL and we would hope that this does not play a part in the other decisions for the court.

    I do not have the capacity to be a part of the nomination, but I would respectfully request the bar association be involved with the vetting process of a new president selection. This should give us the transparency and remove any bias that any other member of the justice system, including the bar association may have during the process.

  2. abi says:

    Great, is always good to have Someone related to you in a court of justice. We’ll done, we want only belizeans there.

  3. cindy says:

    I guess every one showing dean barrow they cant operate with his system. crime high he does nothing. soon we will have the worst country belize. it sad to see the news every day. how every person that committs murder is left to be free. come on people lets rebell

  4. BZNpeace says:

    @ abi. Are you serious!?!?!? Belize is truly doomed if others think the way you do. What is a Court of Justice if it cannot be impartial? Belize used to be a model for other nations in the region. Now we are on the road to oblivion. I weep!

  5. Skywalker says:

    Another one bites the dust as they say… How this PM can say that no one can accuse him of corruption is beyond me. He hasn’t done anything but advance a personal agenda since he got into office.

  6. Lets keep it real says:

    Justice mottley is damn near 72 years old. Time for him to step down and let some of our bright belizeans take up the mantle! I support this move 100%.

  7. GOD FEARING youth says:

    PM GOT SOME serious things up his sleeve watch out my people.This could get crazy

  8. bix says:

    @BZNpeace
    have you ever hear the words “sarcasm”?

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