The Trinidad, Port-of Spain-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) has ruled that a Belizean Court of Appeal judge should be considered for investigation.
The ruling was delivered recently in the case of Dean Boyce, British Caribbean Bank Ltd. and Lord Michael Aschroft KCMG v the Belize Judicial and Legal Services Commission (JLSC), according to a release from the CCJ.
The CCJ said in the 2012 complaint against Justice Samuel Lungole Awich, now a judge in the Court of Appeal, should be properly considered by the JLSC, paving the way to allow the commission to refer the complaint to the Belize Advisory Council, which would then investigate whether the judge should be removed from office as Justice of Appeal.
He was appointed as a judge in the Court of Appeal on April 24, 2012 and was sworn in in May of that year.
In a joint letter dated July 17, 2012, Boyce and Lord Aschcroft made a request to the JLSC that Justice Awich should be investigated by the Belize Advisory Council.
The request detailed allegations of lack of judicial “acumen,” delays in judgment writing and lack of timeliness in the delivery of judgements while Justice Awich was a judge in the Supreme Court of Belize. In the letter, they suggested that it should be considered whether the judge should be removed from office for inability and / or misbehavior.
Objections to his appointment had previously been raised by the Bar Association of Belize and the Leader of the Opposition.
The JLSC had refused the appellant’s request on the basis that the complaint was misdirected to matters relating to the performance of the judge in his previous position of Justice of the Supreme Court and therefore had no relation to his present office of Justice of Appeal.
The decision of the commission was successfully appealed at the Supreme Court of Belize but the Court of Appeal subsequently set aside the decision of the trial judge.
The court held that the complaints made against Justice Awich as a Supreme Court judge were not relevant to any consideration of his removal from office as a Justice of Appeal. The matter then moved to the CCJ.