Justice Adolph Lucas retires amidst challenging times for the court
Supreme Court Justice Adolph Lucas turned 75 on December 23, and according to the Constitution of Belize, he must demit office upon the attainment of that age. But Judge Lucas’ retirement comes at a particularly difficult time for the Supreme Court, which is struggling under the weight of a massive backlog of cases in the Criminal Division—as the list of accused murderers hovers near 300.
Since attorneys practicing at the criminal bar have discovered that the criminal justice system is in violation of the constitutional provision that accused persons must be tried within a reasonable time, they have begun the process of bail applications for accused murderers and have been successful in having a number of them released on bail.
Justice Lucas has been one of the most able and sterling of the local Supreme Court justices, with only a limited amount of his decisions being turned back at the Court of Appeal.
Adolph Lucas is a man of humble beginnings who began his working life as a police officer. In 1964, Lucas enlisted in the then British Honduras Police Force, and by the time he left he had risen to the rank of Assistant Superintendent of Police.
When Lucas left his job as a police officer, he worked for six months as a Magistrate, before he left the Magistracy to pursue his studies of law in 1986, in Jamaica.
Lucas returned to Belize with a Bachelor of Laws degree, LLB and a Certificate of Legal Education from the Norman Manley Law School. He then took up employment as Belize’s Director of Public Prosecutions, a post he held for two years, because in his words, “I wanted to practice my craft as a lawyer.”
Lucas worked as a Crown Counsel, and Senior Crown Counsel in the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, and after leaving the DPP’s office he worked as a Magistrate and was eventually appointed as Chief Magistrate.
In June 2003, Lucas was appointed to the Supreme Court bench as a Justice of the Supreme Court, a job he performed with complete and total dedication up to his retirement.
A few months ago, another Supreme Court justice, Dennis Hanomansingh, reached the mandatory retirement age and has since demitted office.
Two new judges were hired to fill the openings created by the two retiring justices, but the court’s backlog of cases in the criminal division continues to grow.
Because of the way the court is designed to function, it is doubtful if it will ever catch up completely with its ever growing backlog of cases, unless more judges are hired and the court is prepared to have night and weekend trials.Amandala