The call from the Belize Bar Association for the resignation of Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin comes as shocking news.

The Bar Association wants to see him gone because, it says, he is too slow in dealing with the ever increasing backlog of cases in the Supreme Court.
During the last five years, crime in Belize has grown by leaps and bounds. We now see teenagers being accused of all sorts of crime from muggings to murder. The range and complexity of the crime situation in Belize is truly bewildering for such a relatively small population.

The Supreme Court with its 10 justices are expected to deal with this avalanche of cases and take it in stride, even while a greatly expanded Police Department is stretched to full capacity.

The Belize Bar Association is not complaining because our Chief Justice has compromised himself in any way, or that his judgements have been unsound.
On the contrary, Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin is known for his knowledge and respect for the rule of law and for the careful consideration he gives to his cases. He is the chief of nine Justices of the Supreme Court.
Not a whiff of scandal has tarnished his reputation during his seven years of active duty in Belize, and if he has kept himself aloof from the hoi polloi, it is with good reason.

He became Chief Justice of Belize in succession to Justice Abdulai Conteh and has three more years to complete his tenure before mandatory retirement.
During his time with us, Chief Justice Benjamin has worked with vigour to bring about criminal justice reform and for a more adequate annual budget for the work of the Supreme Court in Belize. He has supervised the computerization of Supreme Court records and spoken up in favour of a witness protection program.
He has presided over the most crowded, most stressful times in the history of the Supreme Court of Belize.

We understand the predicament of the Belize Bar Association. Lawyers can’t make a decent living if the justice system does not move apace with the times. Justice delayed is justice denied!

But pace is only one aspect of Supreme Court work. A quicker pace is not to be pursued at the cost of thoroughness or care that the mills of justice which traditionally grind slowly, also grind exceedingly fine.

We would like to suggest that the concern of the Belize Bar Association is misdirected. Instead of blaming the Chief Justice for the slow pace in an expanding environment, they should direct their concern to Belmopan, to provide one or two more justices to shoulder the extra load.

We feel confident that the Prime Minister, who is himself an attorney at law, will look with favour on their plight and respond as best he can under the circumstances.

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