Posted: Wednesday, January 18, 2023. 2:35 pm CST.
By Aaron Humes: With a new structure, says President of the Bar Association of Belize, Senior Counsel Andrew Marshalleck, the Senior Courts of Belize must avoid the “empty words” of reform by attending to greater financing and more equipped and qualified people.
The vehicle of justice needs to be fueled with sufficient funding, Marshalleck said, as he proposed a Judicial Fund, separate and apart from the Consolidated Revenue Fund, that would be populated and from which the Judiciary would be able to draw down appropriations subject to parliamentary approval: “It cannot be that our Chief Justice will be reduced to begging the Executive for the allocation of necessary resources, and subjecting the success of critical reforms to the vagaries of the Executive’s decision-making.” He cited the model of the regional Caribbean Court of Justice as an example.
Belize has traditionally given barely between $7 to $15 million in funding for the Judiciary in its annual Budget, covering salaries, equipment, and other expenses, and covering the management of the Magistracy (including the Family Court), High Court, and Court of Appeal.
As to human resources, Marshalleck reflected on having to update his curriculum vitae as an expert witness in an international case and going beyond his simply stated dream of being able “to practice law in Belize,” which he has done since 1995. He now says his career objective is “to be in service to others in the resolution of disputes, through the identification, interpretation, application, development and/or communication of legal principles and perspectives, with a view to discover truth and achieve justice for all,” which he describes as a common objective for which all should strive whether Bar or Bench, and, he submits, the direction in which the Judiciary should go.
He further warned that “bad people in a good system will ruin it [and] good people in a bad system may make it just fine” – the people that drive the system are the ultimate judges, so to speak, of whether it works.
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