The Belize Family Court is also seeing changes as its director, Dale Cayetano has gone on pre-retirement leave with retirement becoming effective on March 2, 2021. In the interim, Magistrate Danae Grant is acting in that capacity. Turning over to the Magistrate Court, they too are experiencing a shortage in human resources as two have recently gone on pre-retirement leave. Madam Justice Michelle Arana explained that two new attorneys have been appointed as magistrates.
Chief Justice Michelle Arana: “Regarding judicial personnel in the Magistracy Ms.Patricia Arana who previously served as Magistrate in the Orange Walk Magistrate’s Court is now Deputy Registrar at the Belize Supreme Court General Registry. Magistrate Ladona John resigned from her position as Magistrate of San Ignacio with effect from August 2020 and Mr.Emerson Banner who was Magistrate in Belize City proceeded on pre-retirement leave as of December 21st 2020. Ms.Audrey Grinage and Ms.Kiana Gordon have recently completed their training at the Norman Manley Law School and are now fully trained attorneys at law. Both have answered the call to serve Belize on the bench and they have been appointed as Magistrates. We congratulate both on their achievements and we look forward to these appointments alleviating some of the burdens caused by the inadequate number of judicial personnel for the courts. Despite the shortage of magistrates in Punta Gorda, Independence, San Ignacio and Belize City Magistrates have been steadfast in stretching their limited human resources in order to provide continuous service to the public by way of rotations and deferrals of their leave entitlements. It is hoped that adequate human resources, repairs to physical infrastructure and much needed legislative changes to allow for virtual hearings in the Magistrate’s Courts throughout Belize will be provided shortly to allow for improvement of efficient and effective service to the public.”
The Belize Court of Appeal is seeing a woman appointed for the first time as its President. Acting Chief Justice Michelle Arana welcomed Madam Hafiz Bertram to the chair.
Chief Justice Michelle Arana: “Sir Manuel Sosa MBE who has served as president of the Court of Belize since January 3rd 2011 reached retirement age in December 2020 and has since demitted office. We take this opportunity to thank President Sosa for his distinguished contributions to our jurisprudence and his years of dedicated service to the people and country of Belize,. We wish him well on his retirement. With the demitting of president Sosa from office Madam Justice of Appeal Minet Hafiz Bertrand has been appointed as the acting president of the Court of Appeal of Belize. We extend warm congratulations to Madam Justice of Appeal Hafiz Bertrand and we celebrated unreservedly the singular honor of her being the first female in Belize to be president of the Court of Appeal. We extend best wishes to her during her tenure.”
Madam Arana also noted that at the end of 2020 there were 411 prisoners on remand awaiting trial. Data from the prison also shows one hundred and twenty-two persons charged with murder who are currently on remand. It also shows that over one hundred persons have been on remand awaiting trial for over two years.