Commencement of the 2018 Legal Year Print E-mail
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Thursday, 11 January 2018 00:00

On the second Monday at the beginning of each new calendar year, the legal year is opened and celebrated with a procession and ceremony to open the new schedule. The formal opening of the 2018 Legal Year took place on Monday, January 8, 2018. The ceremony started at the Wesley Methodist Church with a church service and was followed by a procession of the Bench and Bar of the Honorable Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin and judges and other legal bodies of the Supreme Court.

They and other invited guests marched from the church to the Supreme Court building where the Chief Justice gave a report of last year’s legal calendar. In that address, the Chief Justice highlighted a need for more magistrates as well as other civil and criminal matters. According to the Chief Justice, 2017 saw plenty civil as well as criminal matters. A total of 838 civil claims, inclusive of petitions for bail, were filed. 711 claims were disposed of. There were also 364 divorce petitions filed, for which 292 decrees were granted. In the criminal side 424 persons are awaiting trial, 5 persons are awaiting decision, and 2 persons are awaiting sentence, and 1 person is detained pending extradition. Of 230 accused persons awaiting trial in the Supreme Court, 156 or 68.26%, have been in custody over 2 years.  With the appointment of two additional judges, the rate of disposal is expected to increase significantly. One of the two judges includes newly appointed Justice Marilyn Williams who was sworn in on Friday, January 5, 2018.

Attorney General Michael Peyrefitte moved to adjournment but first spoke on the appointment of Justice Williams to the Supreme Court bench as well as the progress made in the Toledo Land Rights Commission, an area which falls under his ministry. “I must start from the outset by congratulating and thanking Justice Marilyn Williams for taking up the appointment as a judge of the Supreme Court and for being willing to leave her illustrious private practice to offer herself up for service to the judiciary and the country.  I know Justice Williams both personally and professionally and I can boldly say that Justice Williams is the embodiment of quality in all respects.” “There was the Maya Land Rights Commission under the directorship of Ms. Alamilla in which we worked towards ensuring that the Mayas get the rights that they deserve, fully within the constitution in respect of the rights of any other citizen in Belize.  Under the ministry as well My Lord, we swore in on September sixteenth, 2017, some seventy-eight alcaldes and deputy alcaldes.  This is a landmark occasion in Belize because for the first time the alcaldes were sworn in by the Attorney General.”