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Judicial and Legal Services Commission challenged over Justice Awich

Belize Supreme Court building

Belize Supreme Court building

Wednesday, June 25, 2014. AARON HUMES Reporting: Today a two-day trial concluded between Dean Boyce, the British Caribbean Bank, and the Judicial and Legal Services Commission.

The names are familiar and so is the legal scenario.

Since he was on the Supreme Court, Justice Samuel Awich has been dogged by accusations of lagging judgments and general lack of competency.

Despite this, he has been appointed acting Chief Justice in the interregnum between Dr. Abdulai Conteh and Kenneth Benjamin, and appointed to the Court of Appeal over the objections of the Bar Association.

Senior Counsel Godfrey Smith, who along with Magali Marin-Young represents Boyce and the Bank, says the Commission was presented with enough evidence to substantiate complaints it received about the jurist and should have forwarded the matter to the Belize Advisory Council, which has final say on removing judges from the Bench.

According to Smith, the case would be sent back to the Commission if successful.

And Awich’s potential removal, he says, would not be a first in Belize.

George Meerabux was dropped from the Bench after unsuccessfully appealing his removal all the way to the Privy Council.

The action against him was likewise taken by the Bar Association.

But it appears the Government is willing to fight the Bar and Awich’s opponents to the death.

A strongly-worded release issued on Tuesday warned of potential action against current president Eamon Courtenay and former presidents and husband and wife Jacqueline and Andrew Marshalleck.

Smith, at least, appears unfazed.

He hit back at the Prime Minister’s use of his office to get involved in a matter that is not necessarily of his concern.

According to Smith, no matter how many members of the Bar attended the meeting, the resolution spoke for them all.

It was wrong of senior attorney and Prime Minister Dean Barrow to allow his office to be used in this manner, Smith said.

Justice Courtney Abel has set the end of July for judgment.

Trienia Young appeared for the Commission.

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