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Six new commissioners sworn in at Supreme Court

The Belize Supreme Court gained six new commissioners today as they were sworn in by Belize’s Chief Justice, Kenneth Benjamin in Belize City.  At the ceremony, Chief Justice Benjamin explained the vetting procedures involved in becoming a commissioner of the Supreme Court.”

Kenneth Benjamin Chief Justice of the Supreme Court: “And the criteria for appointment is that you should be an upstanding citizen. In fact the language used is a fit and proper person which in short means a person with possessive integrity. We conduct a vetting of your criminal record. We do not do it through Special Branch of the Police because we are not interested in your political affiliations or anything of that nature. We are interested of your criminal record and none of you have a criminal record I am pleased to report. We also vet you to see if there is any pending litigation because it would not do well for you to be a Commissioner of the Supreme Court and you have pending litigation going on in the Supreme Court, there would be something very wrong with that. It doesn’t mean that you would be disqualified, it means that after you resolve you litigation we can then become eligible be a commissioner.”

Sitnah Blease: “The new slate of Commissioners are Steven Humes, Marina Gongora, Aura Guy, Haisam Diab, Sr., Eddie Webster and Mary Vasquez.  These men and women are now entrusted the power to receive documents for litigation among other roles.

Kenneth Benjamin Chief Justice of the Supreme Court:Now the fact that you are appointed as a commissioner doesn’t mean that you are authorized to practice law. It simply means that you have certain duties given to you under the law and I am going to tell you what they are: first of all the main function is to witness and subscribe to documents for use in the court and for other official purposes so generally you would be dealing with subscribing to affidavit by person who come before you sign them and then you will authenticate them as having them properly signed. There are two other duties that are prescribed for you in the rules of court. First of all there’s the examination of witnesses by special order of the judge. I am not aware that any orders have been made in recent items in Belize. I am aware in other jurisdictions it has been done and so I need alert you to the fact that the judge can make and order ordering you to conduct an examination of a witness. Also you have the power to receive documents, in some cases documents are required for the litigation and the judge can make an order authorizing the commissioner of the Supreme court  to receive those documents for handing over a new litigation.

Sitnah Blease: “These six persons join Diana Locke, Director of Immigration; Assistant Commissioner of Police Desiree Phillips-Magdaleno and Sandra Arnold, retired Magistrate of the Family Court, among several others who have been appointed as Commissioners of the Belize Supreme Court.