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Aug 24, 2006

Magistrates move to new courtrooms

Story PictureThe “perp walk” … It’s a term used to describe the movement of accused criminals, also known as perpetrators, from police holding cells to their appearance in court. Over the years we’ve followed many of those suspects into a number of different judicial venues … and beginning next week, viewers will see a new one.

Jacqueline Godwin, Reporting
Even the magistrates themselves took an active part as the Belize City Magistrate?s and Family Courts relocate to new offices in the old treasury building downtown. It may have been the result of a disaster, but finally all of our judicial services are now in the same location.

Herbert Lord, Chief Magistrate, Magistrate Court
?Shortly after the Paslow Building Fire the then Attorney General, the Chief Justice and the prime minister as I understand it decided that they would bring all the courts together and this area will then be called the courts square. The Family Court will be brought into the building, the Magistrate?s Court will be here, the Supreme Court is over the next side and upstairs and also the court of appeals and so all the courts are in one area.?

The previous Magistrate?s Court was housed at the Paslow Building at the corner of Queen and North Front Streets. After it was destroyed by fire on September twenty nine, 2002. It briefly functioned from the second floor of the Queen Street Police Station before being relocated to number Four Bishop Street where we understand it cost the government some ten thousand dollars a month to rent.

Chief Magistrate Herbert Lord says those needing the service of the courts will now find things more accessible.

Herbert Lord
?I can say it makes it easier for the public, to have access to all the courts of justice in one area. Rather than having to go to many different areas to search for where the courts are located. Here you can go from one court to another court much easily.?

There are a total of seven court rooms all situated on the ground floor of the building. And while the space is tight, the new quarters have some distinct advantages. The magistrates now have their own offices that are adjacent to their respective court rooms. No longer will people need to walk through one courtroom to get to another. Prisoners will access the court from the rear of the building that will take them directly to the holding cells one for males and females.

Jacqueline Godwin
?Do you see any problems being presented as a result of this?

Herbert Lord
?The Magistrate?s Court and the Family Court will be sharing the administrative section. The courts itself for the Family Court will be upstairs. The courts for the Magistrate?s Court will be on the lower flat on the other side plus the side where we are. Administratively I do not foresee any problems at the moment as the courts are not together and they will be separate at all times.?

?We will have to solve the problems if and when they arise.?

Jacqueline Godwin
?Because the place does look confined.?

Herbert Lord
?It is to a certain extent, but we will be able to sort it out once we being operating properly. As it stands only the administrative section will be working mad. The administrative section will be out there along with the Family Court administrative section, but the rest of the courts that those the actual work, the criminal section and the other sections will not be together, will be separate and a part.?

The move is scheduled to be finished by Monday.

With respect to those cases currently before the Magistrate’s Court, they will be adjourned until Monday September fourth. Meanwhile those persons who have not received their adjournment dates are advised to report to the courts’ new location next week Tuesday.

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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