Senior Attorney Richard Bradley has expressed concerns over the appointments of four news judges. We reported on Tuesday that come January, for overseas judges are expected to arrive in Belize to assist in the shortage of judges in our local courts. Two of the judges are from Canada; one from Jamaica and another from Portugal. Attorney Bradley says his concerns stem from the difference in cultures and how it would affect court judgements.
Richard “Dickie” Bradley, Attorney: “The pandemic has added to the situation of the shortage. I understand that there are four new judges coming in January to be part of the system. I don’t think the criminal jurisdiction will take up all of them but at least two and hopefully three would be assigned to the criminal division of the Supreme Court. It’s not just a question of bringing some judges and coming in. Now a layer has brought to my attention and I’m going to share it with you this is a tricky subject I should have consulted the Commissioner first, I don’t know how to really say this so your listeners or your viewers will have to make allowance for the fact that I’m going to share something which I myself have not thought it through but the optics of it – some of the judges who are coming for want of a better term they’re white people. I just want to ask a rhetorical question in our society got independence 1981, two weeks ago Barbados was celebrating that they have cut the last official ties with the British by not having the Queen being the titular head of state, just titular but even that they want to slice. Alright first of all we can’t hurry jump and want do that because we have a neighbor that is claiming half of our country so having British troops here claiming that the Queen is the head of our state is kind of a little protection for us so we need to be careful that people like me that want nothing more to do with the British they have chanced us all these years and so we need to just understand the reality okay? Other parts of the world people walk into other people country and take it and that happens and Guatemala can do us that and nobody will chase them out hear ? But what I’m leading up to is like I’m just trying to think like in my society where when you look on the news the vast majority of people being arrested and being accused of crime and who are committing crime too and are packed up in the prison like to have white people sending black people to jail that won’t go good hear ? So I’m just saying that like I don’t know who is behind those kinds of decisions but man can you believe we are bringing white judges to Belize ? I don’t want to sound racist. We are bringing white judge to Belize when we are part of the CARICOM, we are part of the commonwealth where there’s no shortage of our type of people with our background. That is a serious matter to me you know but I leave it there.”
Love News confirmed with the Attorney General that the four judges are coming to aid with the backlog and are coming through support from the Commonwealth Secretariat. The appointment of the new judges, however, is not the only concern that Attorney Bradley expressed. He told our newsroom that the Magistrates being appointed are too inexperienced, leading to additional clogs in the court system.
Richard “Dickie” Bradley, Attorney: “The backlog situation is more than just a shortage of judges. Ninety odd percent of all cases go through the Magistrate Court. There has been a shortage of Magistrates for like maybe two years now, a very serious shortage. The other problem with that is that it is unfair to the public to accuse persons that green Magistrates are put on the bench to make very serious decisions especially given some of the laws that they’re required to administer. You want trained persons, you also want experienced persons otherwise the pressure comes on the same Supreme Court which is short of judges to have to be spending a lot of time granting bail, a lot of time having to do appeals when persons believe that they have been wrongfully convicted or wrongfully fined monies so one thing leads to the next leads to the next. So it’s a question of more prosecutors if you have to have more judges, more courtroom space. As it is the lawyers are very concerned that under the pandemic jurors are still basically – some of them are maybe three or four feet apart from each other that’s not safe. We’re locked up in a courtroom which is not open the breeze is not blowing through and through the court that is not safe but everybody is trying because then it’s unfair to have people not getting their trial within a reasonable time. This is a big problem it needs special attention.”
The new judges are expected to arrive in Belize in early January.