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Magistrate Court

The Chief Justice is appointed by the Governor-General, acting in accordance with the advice of the Prime Minister given after consultation with the Leader of the Opposition. The Puisne Judges are appointed by the Governor-General, acting in accordance with the advice of the Judicial and Legal Service section of the Public Service Commission and with the concurrence of the Prime Minister given after consultation with the Leader of the Opposition.

There is also the "Lower Court" or Magistrate's Court. In our country every district capital has at least one Magistrate's Court. In Belize City there are four Magistrates' Court. If a person seems to have broken the law, he must be brought first before a Magistrate's Court. If the offence with which he is charged is not very serious, his case may be finally decided in the Magistrate's Court which has power to impose fines and also to send people to prison for up to six months. If a case is too serious for a Magistrate to deal with himself, he hears evidence about it and then, if he thinks that there is enough evidence, he sends the case to be tried in the Supreme Court where there is a jury.

In cases involving a serious offence, the evidence on either side is generally presented by a lawyer - one representing the Crown and the other representing the person accused of the offence. In many of the cases which come before a Magistrate the parties appear in person, that is to say they are not represented by a lawyer. Each person who gives evidence (such a person is called a witness) may be cross-examined by the other party, that is to say he may be asked questions designed to show whether his evidence is true or false. The rules of evidence are very important but are too complicated to be discussed in this publication.

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