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New Chief Justice, Louise Blenman, sworn in

HeadlineNew Chief Justice, Louise Blenman, sworn in

Acting Chief Justice, Michelle Arana, will go on to serve in the Court of Appeal

by Khaila Gentle

BELIZE CITY, Sat. Sept. 3, 2022

Guyanese jurist, Louise Blenman, has been sworn in as Belize’s new Chief Justice. Blenman will be replacing Kenneth Benjamin, who retired in March 2020. Justice Michelle Arana, who served as acting Chief Justice and who opted to not apply for the position, will go on to serve in the Court of Appeal.

Earlier this year, a press release from the Government of Belize revealed that, after advertising the position of Chief Justice both locally and throughout the Caribbean, they had received a total of eight applications, though none were from Belizean applicants. Justice Blenman and the seven other applicants went through a vetting process that included an interview panel conducted by senior members of the Bar Association. Based on her qualifications, her experience, and her interview, Blenman was recommended favourably to the Prime Minister for appointment as Chief Justice.

Justice Louise Blenman has been in the field of law for over thirty years now, including serving as a High Court judge in Anguilla in 2003. She was later appointed to the Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal in 2012 and served there up until recently. She has also served in senior judicial positions in St. Lucia, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, and Antigua and Barbuda. She holds an Honour’s Degree in Law from the University of the West Indies, which she obtained in 1986.

Justice Blenman took the oath of office in Belmopan on Friday, before Governor General Dame Froyla Tzalam.

“I am Guyanese by birth, St. Lucian by naturalisation and Caribbean by inclination. I am a Caribbean woman jurist. Similarly, Belize is Caribbean, and therefore we have that in common. I am greatly honoured to be given the opportunity to serve the people of Belize as Chief Justice,” said Justice Blenman, who noted that Belize reminds her of her home country, Guyana.

The new Chief Justice added that she intends to willingly share her experience and expertise with the people of Belize, as she is of the firm belief that the Caribbean is stronger when its people act unitedly.

Justice Michelle Arana, who attended the swearing-in ceremony, congratulated Justice Blenman in a social media post on Friday and expressed her well wishes. Justice Arana also stated that she is looking forward to continuing to serve the people of Belize after she is elevated to the Court of Appeal in the next few weeks.

In reflecting on her time spent as acting Chieft Justice since April 2020, Justice Arana noted that she managed to steer the administration of justice in Belize through the COVID-19 pandemic, despite shortage of judicial personnel, and many other crises.

“I thank all the international donor agencies for their support in providing resources to strengthen the administration of justice,” she wrote.

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