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Jasmine Hartin Wants the Presiding Judge Over her Custody Battle to Recuse Himself

Jasmine Hartin wants Family Court Director, Dale Cayetano to recuse himself as the presiding judge over the custody battle involving her and her estranged partner, Andrew Ashcroft. Hartin’s attorney Audrey Matura has filed an application against Cayetano asking him to do just that over the appearance of bias. Love News managed to get a copy of the claim and senior reporter, Hipolito Novelo takes a closer look at it.

Jasmine Hartin returned to the Family Court in Belize City as she continues her custody battle with her estranged partner Andrew Ashcroft over their twin son and daughter. 

But there was little advancement made in the family matter and that’s because of claim 531 of 2021.  (pg 67) On July 28 2021, Attorney Wendy Auxillou wrote to the Director of Family Court Dale Cayetano regarding Hartin’s request for Cayetano to recuse himself (69) from the matter as the presiding magistrate. In the letter, Auxillou reminds Cayetano of a July 2 meeting at the Belize Family Court where Hartin requested a “Single Mother Letter.” 

According to the letter, Cayetano told Hartin that he would not be able to grant the request and that she had prejudiced her own case and put him in a bad position and as a result he would not be able to deal with the matter anymore despite there being no case before the court at that time. 

(69) Hartin was served with a summons on July 5 and then again on July 17 to appear not at the San Pedro Magistrate’s court but at the Belize Family Court. Cayetano presided over the hearing as the trial magistrate. On this basis, Auxillou says that there is the appearance of bias and request that Cayetano recuse himself from hearing the matter and new magistrate be appointed to hear the case. 

(71) The claim includes the conversation transcript between Hartin and Cayetano in which hartin asks Cayetano why she is being denied the letter. In His response, Cayetano says (quote) you see you’re not being denied but it’s a question of eligibility. “Why wouldn’t I be eligible?” Hartin asks. Cayetano says, “uhm because every jurisdiction has their own laws when it comes to custody of the children and Hartin quickly rebuts, telling Cayetano that in belize it says that the mother gets sole custody of the child. But Cayetano then says (quotes), right right but but right…but that’s if you’re in Belize…I don’t know what your guys arrangement of prior coming to Belize (unquote) The conversation continues and Hartin leaves empty handed. 

(2) Hartin’s attorney Audrey Matura has filed an application for judicial review asking the court to quash the decision to holding the hearing under the Family Court’s jurisdiction and changing the venue from San Pedro to Belize City. 

The court is also being asked to declare Hartin has the right to be informed the reason why the venue was changed and who made the decision. She is also asking the court to quash the decision taken by Cayetano to not issue her a Single Mother Letter. 

Hartin is asking that the court declare that Cayetano’s decision not to recuse himself from the matter amounted to a breach of natural justice namely the right to be before an impartial and unbiased magistrate. Hartin is also seeking to be granted custody of her children by asking the court to squash the interim custody order handed down on July 20 when Cayetano ordered that the children remain in Ashcroft’s custody. Reporting for Love News, I am Hipolito Novelo