Belize's courts are finally getting rid of those handwritten transcripts and moving towards digital recordings. The Judges and stenographers, who have to write down as precisely as possible, what is said during proceedings, know all too well how tedious that is. Then there are the claimants who have to wait and hope that those transcripts are accurate enough for deliberation, knowing full well that, handwritten notes are susceptible to errors.
Well, all that doubt and anxiety should not be a problem anymore. That's because this morning Representatives from the US Embassy, on behalf of CARSI, which is the Central American Regional Security Initiative, handed over Court Audio Recording Equipment at the Supreme Court. US Ambassador to Belize Carlos Moreno discussed how significant this recording equipment will be during court proceedings.
Carlos Moreno - US Ambassador to Belize "This is really a big step forward in assisting the Magistrates to help create and to preserve a record at the proceedings and an accurate record at the proceedings is really essential for the purposes of Appeal in cases that dispute is to what is said or what the basis of the Magistrate's ruling was. It can serve many purposes so that when an appellant court is reviewing what happened below, we have now ready made an accurate recording of all the proceedings. My understanding is that previous to the equipment being installed the courts had to rely on the hand written notes and recollection of Magistrates themselves. So, this is a step for improving the quality of that record that is going to be reviewed on appeal. It also provides for more efficient proceedings, if there's a dispute as to what was said or what happened in the trial court, well, the recording of everything that goes on in the court room would be here digitally preserved forever."
Kenneth Benjamin - Chief Justice "The instillation process was not an easy one. There have been a number of challenges, but I'm pleased to say they were systematically resolved thanks a lot to our systems administrators who were with the software programmer who was here with us, the hardware installer working hand in hand to make everything at the end of the day be the process that originally envisage."
But apart from the basic documentation of proceedings, this donation should assist in limiting adjournments and speeding up trials which is a major hurdle in the Belize court system. Ambassador Moreno says everyone needs to be on board for adjustment to be effective:
Carlos Moreno, US Ambassador to Belize "Having served in trial courts for over 16 years, I know that one of the reason why there is court delay is the excessive number of adjournments or continuances. If we can limit those, I can assure that the Court system would operate more efficiently. So, I'm hoping and I would expect that the beginning of the Magistrate level rules of criminal procedure would be adhere to, that lawyers would fully accept and adopt those rules and limit the number of adjournments that occur in criminal trials. I think for cases to proceed the trial after the passing of even 3, 4 or even 5 years is not good for any justice system and it is often been said, there is either justice delayed is justice denied and that applies equally to those who are accused, who are entitled to a speedy and efficient and accurate trial, but it also applies to the prosecution, who will suffer in the cause of justice with witnesses no longer being able to be located, memories being lapsed and so forth. So, I think the efforts of CARSI is really to improve the system in that respect."