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PM Barrow comments on Parke’s qualifications

The People’s United Party and the Bar Association of Belize have presented objections to the appointment of Franz Parke as a Justice of the Appeals Court. Yesterday Prime Minister Dean Barrow was asked about Parke’s appointment and he said Parke will make a fine Justice of Appeal.

Rt.Hon.Dean Barrow, Prime Minister

“While I was obliged to take on board the leader of the opposition’s objections I was not so obliged with respect to the Bar Association but I nevertheless did. You know how I am a fellow who is always so very concerned about ensuring that I take into consideration any point taken by any entity or person of good will. I’m afraid though that while I can, I understand the basis for their objection I really don’t agree with it and let me explain. Mr. Parke who was a classmate of mine, extremely bright, came to law after he had already qualified as an accountant; had a bachelor’s degree in accounting. He did law the same time I did, graduated the same time I did, practiced in Jamaica for five years where he is from then he moved to the states where he got yet another qualification he did the JD, the American equivalent of our LLB and practicing certificate and he spent the rest of his professional life up to this point in the states where his experience is completed variegated. The Bar and the leader of the opposition no doubt prompted by a particular member of the Bar whom we both know extremely well are taking the view but the bulk of his experience is not in Belize but in the US. Well listen the US is a common law jurisdiction in the same way as Belize is now if you are a US lawyer you go to Norman Manley for six months or something and you qualify to practice, he was already qualified not just having gone through the formal instruction and gotten his credentials but having practiced in his homeland for five years. Look at the CCJ because again it’s a CARICOM wide thing one of the Justices Mr. Justice Wit who is from Suriname had absolutely no experience in common law legal learning, he was a civil lawyer; nevertheless he came on to the CCJ where he is one of the more outstanding of the judges so I genuinely do not see that Mr. Parke the fact that the bulk of Mr. Parke’s practicing experience has been in the United States, more time practicing in the US than in the Caribbean I do not see that as a disqualification and when I look at the constitution what is required is that this person should have been entitled to practice in our jurisdiction for a certain number of years and he was so entitled from 1975. I’m sorry to say it’s as long ago as that I graduated and that therefore he graduated so I am convinced that he had come already and he did one session as a temporary judge, I had no complaints from the president of the court or from any other member of the court and I am convinced that Franz as bright as he is and with all the experience that he will make a fine Justice of Appeal.”