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August 02
09:19 2018

Court of Appeal Justice Samuel Awich could lose his seat following a ruling by the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) that the Judicial and Legal Services Commission (JLSC) made an error in dismissing a request from attorneys for the ‘Ashcroft Alliance’ to investigate Awich’s conduct on a number of arguments that he was unfit to be a Court of Appeal Judge.

“If there is sufficient evidence of misbehavior or inability to perform, the matter will be sent to the Belize Advisory Council which shall sit as a tribunal and actually make findings as to whether or not Justice Awich should be removed,” Eamon Courtenay, attorney for the Ashcroft group, told the media following the CCJ ruling on Tuesday.

The matter dates back to May 2012 when Prime Minister Dean Barrow elevated Awich from the Supreme Court to the Appeals Court. The decision caused much controversy, drawing criticism from the Bar Association of Belize and the Ashcroft Alliance. A letter was sent to the JLSC by the Alliance requesting that the Belize Advisory Council launch an investigation into Awich’s conduct.

The Alliance argued that Awich was unfit for his position because he had a terrible record of excessive delays in delivering judgements. They claimed that some his rulings in the Appellate court had also been criticized and questioned. The JLSC, however, dismissed the complaint calling it “misconceived and premature.” The Ashcroft Alliance then filed a suit against the Commission and in 2014, Supreme Court Justice Courtney Abel ruled in the Alliance’s favor, agreeing that a preliminary investigation should have been carried out before dismissing the request.

GOB and the Commission disagreed with the ruling and filed an appeal in the Court of Appeals last year, which overturned the Supreme Court ruling. Now with the CCJ ruling, the JLSC is obliged to carry out an investigation into Awich’s conduct and the claims against him.

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