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Bar Chastises Media, Softening Stance on Outstanding Judgements

Reports surfaced a few days ago of a possible hard stance that the Bar Association of Belize would be taking against the Chief Justice, Kenneth Benjamin due to outstanding judgments that have been pending for years.  That hard stance was reported as being a possible call for Benjamin’s voluntary resignation or the undertaking of the formal procedures required to have him removed.  These issues were reportedly to be discussed at Friday night’s AGM.  Today we contacted the President, Priscilla Banner but she was unavailable and is yet to return our call.  We did, however, receive a press release from Banner which did not really speak of the issue at hand but rather served as a scolding for media houses.  The one page document reads, quote, “The Bar Association of Belize first wishes to express its concern that documents relevant to its Annual General Meeting held on Friday, 21st July 2017 were provided to the media without authorization.  The reports which followed in the media sought to portray the issue of the outstanding judgments and the resolve of the Bar to address that issue in a sensational and wholly inappropriate manner.  The Press must be reminded of its duty to elevate the quality of public discourse and engage issues of public importance responsibly, particularly when relying on document obtained with authorization.  The facts are that there are outstanding judgments and the Bar is duty bound to do all within its statutory powers to seek the delivery of those judgments.  In seeking to ensure that it carries out its mandate the Bar intends to work as closely as it is permitted with the judiciary and in a manner that demonstrates the respect which it has for the Judiciary and acknowledges that the proper and efficient administration of justice must be the mutual desire of both the Bar and the Judiciary.”  End of quote.  In the document obtained by some members of the media, it noted that there are thirty pending cases before the Supreme Court with a delay period of two to five and a half years with majority of them being before Chief Justice Benjamin.  In mid-2016, the Chief Justice had committed to present judgments on the pending matters by mid-September 2016 but that did not happen.  Love News understands that the Chief Justice has renewed his commitment and has indicated that the outstanding matters would be dealt with over his two month vacation.