Efforts to unseat Justice Samuel Awich continue

The elevation last year of Supreme Court Justice Samuel Awich to the Belize Court of Appeal continues to face challenge from the Ashcroft Alliance. 

On Wednesday, a case management hearing was held in the Supreme Court of Justice Oswald Legall.

Attorneys representing Dean Boyce, Michael Ashcroft and the British Caribbean Bank are proceeding with an application before the court to declare the appointment invalid.

Justice Awich was appointed last April to sit on the Belize Court of Appeal, after he retired from the Supreme Court, at the retirement age of 65. But his appointment was opposed by the Belize Bar Association and the Leader of the Opposition, who urged Prime Minister Dean O. Barrow to reconsider the appointment.

Last year, the Ashcroft Alliance referred a complaint to the Judicial and Legal Services Commission (JLSC) asking it to consider the removal of Justice Awich on the grounds of misbehaviour and the inability to perform his functions as a judge.

Following the process for the removal of a sitting judge, the JLSC was asked to submit the matter to the Belize Advisory Council, which is the second step of a two-step process.

But the Judicial and Legal Services Commission  after considering the matter, said that it did not think that  the matter should be referred to the Belize Advisory Council.

One of the Ashcroft alliance’s attorney, Mr. Godfrey Smith, S.C., told The Reporter that he thinks that the JLSC is wrong not to have referred the matter to the Belize Advisory Council.

Smith said that  is why the Ashcroft Alliance has filed a fixed date claim at the Supreme Court to have the court declare that the JLSC was  wrong not to have referred the matter.

Smith said that the case is premised on how the claimants have been treated in previous cases by Justice Awich.

He pointed out  that the Solicitor General sits on the JLSC and that he has  also filed an affidavit in a claim in which Appeal Justice Awich has been asked to recuse himself.

This is not the first time that Justice Awich has been  at the center of controversy.

In 2009, the Belize Bar Association pushed for him to leave  office, because of excessive delays in his delivery of judgments, which the Bar  then characterized  as “misbehaviour” in office.

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