Our Community – Magistrate Earl Jones

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 16, No. 49            December 14, 2006

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Magistrate Earl Jones a very strong advocate for the youth, family and attends conferences on how to address the matter of domestic violence.

Earl Anthony Jones was born on September 17th, 1954 in the city of Belize. Parents Barbara Savery and Karl Jones welcomed their second child to what would become a family of five girls and three boys. Growing up in Belize City, Judge Jones recalls playing marbles in the street side and enjoying a calm and peaceful childhood.

    At the age of seven, Judge Jones remembers vividly when tragedy struck the country of Belize. On October 31st, 1961, Category 4 Hurricane Hattie struck Belize City causing havoc and leaving damage in its path. “I remember having to evacuate and run to a nearby apartment which was incomplete as the wind was tearing our house apart. By the time the Hurricane was over, we had to return home by way of a canoe. The water had risen as much as seven feet or more. It took days for that water to go back to normal. From our house on the Canal Side you could see all the way to the swing bridge every thing was flatten. All the houses had literally been blown down and all you could see was water,” he comments. At the end of the Hurricane over 275 people had died and countless people were left homeless. “We went from being a middle class family to a lower class family. It took us close to 15 years to get back on our feet.” Hurricane Hattie was such a powerful hurricane that it forced the Belizean government to relocate its capital from Belize City further inland to its present location in Belmopan.

    Prior to Hurricane Hattie Judge Jones was attending Annette Mehia’s private school, however after the devastation caused by this force of nature, he had to attend public school and was enrolled at St. John’s Infant School. He successfully completed his studies there in 1967 and since his family had no financial resources to have him continue his education, Judge Jones went to work. He was employed at Cain’s Press. There he was responsible for printing and binding of the printed materials, as well as any minor jobs that were required. With the money he made he paid for his schooling, since he was too late to enroll at a high school, he returned to St. John’s Primary for one more year, graduating again in 1968.

    After completing his studies at St. John’s once more, Judge Jones enrolled at St. Michael’s College, were he pursued his Academic education majoring in General Studies. While attending college, he remained working at the press but still managed to complete his studies in 1974.

    Walking down the Fort George area one day, Judge Jones met the Comptroller of Custom Mr. Telford Vernon who offered him a post at the Belize City Customs Department. He gladly accepted and went to work as a security officer. Soon enough he kept getting promoted, moving his way up the ladder from security to clerk to tally clerk to custom officer and eventually being assigned the post of Senior Customs Officer.

    On December 17th, 1978 Judge Jones shared his love and commitment with his partner when they joined their lives in holy matrimony. Rita McFaddzean gladly accepted to become his wife and the happy couple now have two children, Karen and Karl.

    As a Custom Officer from 1983 to 1985, Judge Jones was posted at the Northern Border and from 1986 to 1988 he was posted at the Western Border as Officer in Charge. In 1988, however he heard of a wonderful opportunity. The government was offering scholarships to qualified people who wished to further their education. Being accepted for the scholarship, Judge Jones went to study at the University of the West Indies where he studied Public Administration. “I knew I had to further my studies,” he says, “I never wanted to remain complacent. The only way to keep moving forward is to get qualified. That is the only way to move up.” After two years of hard work and dedication to his studies, Judge Jones obtained a Certificate in Public Administration.

    Upon completion, Judge Jones was appointed the Officer in Charge of the Philip Goldson International Airport’s Custom Department. In the year of 1995, he retired from the custom’s field and opened his own business named KJ’s Copy and Computer Rentals. His business was an Internet/Computer café but also served as a courier service. Wanting to further his education, Judge Jones stumbled upon an ad for a Correspondence School in England. He submitted his application to Wolverhampton and after arduous studying he received an LLB (Honors), Degree in Law.

    Judge Jones returned to government service in 1998 as the Director for the evening division at the Belize Technical College, and in 2000 was the Director for the Adult and Continued Education department for the University of Belize. “I never saw my law degree as a way to make money. I figured that I could impact people by sharing my knowledge and in this way enrich many lives,” he explains.

    In April 2002, Judge Jones made the official move and became a Magistrate working for the Belize Judiciary. “From my experience as a Custom Officer and working at various level of the service I figured that this knowledge could enhance my career as a judge.” And so he has. In November of 2005, Judge Jones was transferred to San Pedro Magistrate Court. He accepted the challenge of opening the first Magistrate’s Court in San Pedro and fitting it to meet the island needs. With nothing on hand, the San Pedro Magistrate’s Court now boasts full services including Criminal, Civil and Family matters. Since January 2006, Judge Jones has heard over 1,153 criminal cases and continues.

    Judge Jones is also a very strong advocate for the youth, family and attends conferences on how to address the matter of domestic violence. “With the aid of many people we try to bridge the gap and bring parents and children together. There are certain issues that really need to be worked on and that is what we are working hard to fix. Communication has broken down in the family unit and that issue is of high priority,” he explains.

    In his free time, Judge Jones enjoys fishing, a sport that he takes pleasure in during the week. “I have grown to love San Pedro. It is nice and tranquil. I feel free to walk the streets, with everything going on I still feel free. San Pedro is still a peaceful community unlike other parts of our country and we must try to keep it that way.”

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