AG quotes scripture in support of Chancellor nominee despite backlog judgments


By Devina Samaroo

Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Basil Williams on Monday resorted to quoting a biblical scripture as he shrugged off concerns about the aptness of Belize Chief Justice, Kenneth Benjamin’s nomination to serve as Chancellor of the Judiciary in Guyana given his challenges in reducing a backlog of his written judgments.

“If anyone of you is without sin, let him cast the first stone,” the Attorney General stated in response to a question posed by a reporter about the concerns relating to the performance of Justice Benjamin.

Justice Benjamin came under scrutiny by the Belize Bar Association in September 2017, when the Bar passed a resolution calling on him to deliver delayed judgments for 32 cases that he has heard but on which he has not yet issued a ruling, a Belize online media outfit reported.

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The Bar Association had also threatened to file for Justice Benjamin’s removal from office for misconduct.

When pressed for a response outside of the scriptures, Guyana’ Attorney General proffered: “there is no jurisdiction, certainly not Guyana, that is not beset by these issues of a backlog of cases.”

The Stabroek News had reported in its January 8, 2018 edition that Justice Benjamin was not the top pick from the committee which was put together to nominate suitable candidates for the post of Chancellor of the Judiciary.

President David Granger and Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo met a few days ago to discuss the nomination of Justice Benjamin for the post but Jagdeo requested a month to conduct due diligence on the nominee. The two sides will meet again on February 7, 2018 to continue the discussion.

Article 127 (1) of the Constitution stipulates that “the Chancellor and the Chief Justice shall each be appointed by the President, acting after obtaining the agreement of the Leader of the Opposition.”

Therefore, if Jagdeo does not endorse the nominee then Justice Benjamin cannot be appointed as the substantive Chancellor of the Judiciary of Guyana.

Recently, the President of the Caribbean Court of Justice Sir Dennis Byron expressed concerns that since former Chancellor Desiree Bernard demitted office in 2005, an agreement has not been reached on a substantive appointment of a Chancellor.

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