J’can sworn in as Belize judge despite mounted opposition

Thursday, October 19, 2017

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — Jamaican attorney Franz Parke was on Tuesday sworn in as a Court of Appeal judge in Belize amid controversy over his appointment.

According to Belizean reports, the appointment came despite a claim filed last week by the Leader of the Opposition People’s United Party, Johnny Briceño, to have the Belize Supreme Court declare his appointment null and void on the claim that his appointment violates the Belize Constitution — the highest law of the land.

It was also stated that the oppositions surrounding Parke's appointment comes from two standpoints — his qualifications and his past.

Reports have surfaced, which suggest that Parke has very limited knowledge of Caribbean law, although he has been an attorney in the US for over two decades.

Critics, including the Opposition party, have pointed out that the laws in the US and in the Caribbean are very different and argue that Parke does not meet basic requirements to hold the job.

However, Prime Minister Dean Barrow, who is a former law-school classmate of Parke's, dismissed concerns raised by the Bar Association over the appointment last week.

In addition, it was stated that Parke has, as described by media reports, a “questionable” past because of an inter-agency investigation that took place at the Miami-Dade State Attorney's office in the US, which focused on Parke, who was a prosecutor at the time.  The investigation reportedly never materialised and Parke left the attorney's office a year later and started private practice.

Despite Barrow's assertions, at least one prominent defence attorney is said to have declared that he will be challenging Parke directly if any of his clients come before him in the Court of Appeal.

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