Since former Chief Justice Abdulai Conteh was retired in late 2010, the position has been temporarily filled by Justice Samuel Awich. There was a lot of huffing and puffing about whether or not the Bar Association would have been part of the selection process for the new CJ but cooler heads prevailed and its members are on the Advisory Committee interviewing the candidates. There were five persons short listed for consideration but, as Prime Minister Dean Barrow told the media, the Advisory Committee has narrowed the list to three candidates.
“The Advisory Committee that we’ve set up, which is chaired by the Ms Jackie Marshalleck, President of the Bar, Mister Derek Courtenay and Mister Michael Young, cut that five to three: a candidate from Guyana, a candidate out of New Zealand but who is Jamaican and an Australian who is living in the UK. Arrangements have been made for each of them to be flown in at great expense to the Government of Belize. You see, if I had just gone and acted on my own we might have saved the tax payers some money, but in any event, clearly in my effort to accommodate the Belize Bar Association, it’s a small price to pay anyway, each candidate is being flown in to be interviewed by this panel. The candidate from Guyana and the candidate from New Zealand will be interviewed this month within, as far as I understand it, the next two weeks. There’s a problem with the candidate from England, who is currently on a visiting professorship in Australia and so can’t get away until the end of the month. So his interview will not be able to take place until early February. Once all the interviews have been completed, a recommendation will be made to me by the committee. I will either accept or not accept that recommendation. I would think that I will accept. I would think that we certainly would be able to have the new man in place for the start of – I can’t call it the new legal year – for when the court goes on recess in August, I would think that by the time the legal year is resumed the new Chief Justice is in place.”CHANNEL 5
The new legal year is in September.