Lord Michael Ashcroft, KCMG, Dean Boyce and the British Caribbean Bank, the so-called Ashcroft Alliance, has taken on another fight. This time they are gunning for the removal of newly appointed Belize Court of Appeal, Mr. Justice Samuel Lingole Awich, who was appointed to sit on the high court on May 16, 2012.
Prime Minister, Dean Oliver Barrow, after following the requisite constitutional procedures advised the Governor General to sign the instrument of appointment, elevating Supreme Court Justice, Awich as a Justice of Appeal.
Despite the strong opposition from the Belize Bar Association and the Leader of the Opposition, Awich took the oath of office to serve on the high court on May 16, 2012, one day after his 65th birthday and his retirement from the Supreme Court.
In a letter dated July 17, to Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin, who is also the Chairman of the Judicial and Legal Services Commission, the Ashcroft Alliance painstakingly chronicled the shortcomings of Justice Awich.
The letter makes the case that Awich is unfit to sit on the high court and makes an argument that he has misbehaved while serving on the Supreme Court bench.
Ashcroft and his cohorts said in their letter that for Awich to remain on the Court of Appeal would be inimical to the administration of justice.
This, however, is not the first time that Awich has come under this kind of fire. In 2009, the Bar Association tabled a resolution to have him removed for misbehavior in office and his consistent long delays in delivering judgments.
But Awich survived that onslaught. And when his name came up for appointment to the Court of Appeal, again the Bar Association passed another resolution opposing his appointment.
The Ashcroft Alliance letter cites a number of cases that they were involved in that went before Awich and apparently they are under the perception that Awich has not discharged his duties as a judge in a competent manner. His excessive delays in delivering judgment has caught the attention of his fellow jurists, some of whom have criticized him.
But in the end, the task for the removal of a judge falls on the shoulders of the Belize Advisory Council. In Belize judicial history, only one judge has been removed from the Supreme Court.
That was Supreme Court Justice George Meerabux.