Cayman judge elected regional VP of judicial group

| 29/10/2015
Cayman News Service

Justice Richard Williams

(CNS): Cayman Islands Justice Richard Williams has been elected for the second time to serve as Caribbean region vice president  of the Commonwealth Magistrates and Judges Association (CMJA). The appointment took effect at last month’s 17th Triennial CMJA Conference, at which Justice Williams was a panel presenter.

Chief Justice Anthony Smellie said that the appointment was a very welcome recognition of the judge’s work with CMJA over his many years of service, not only in Cayman but also as a magistrate in the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States’ courts and as judge in the Turks and Caicos Islands.

“I am confident that Justice Williams will continue to represent Cayman and the rest of the regional member states within CMJA with the high levels of commitment and enthusiasm that the appointment requires,” Smellie said.

The five-day conference, themed “Independent Judiciaries, Diverse Societies”, opened with a formal ceremony headed by New Zealand Prime Minister John Key. Attending were judicial representatives of all ranks from across the Commonwealth, including the Caribbean British Overseas Territories.

One of the main objectives of CMJA, of which Cayman is an associate member, is to promote understanding of judicial independence issues among Commonwealth judicial officers in all capacities. The CMJA also aims to enhance networking within the association on judicial developments.

Related topics of particular local significance included a keynote on “Judicial Independence in a Changing Constitutional Landscape” and a panel session on “Applying Concepts of International Human Rights in the National or Domestic Courts”.

During his panel presentation, Justice Williams addressed the conference on “Issues in gender-based violence,” a subject that was apparently as much a hot-button issue at the conference as it is locally. Characterising it as manifesting itself in four spheres of behaviour — verbal, psychological, physical and sexual — Justice Williams focused on teen dating violence.

Turks and Caicos Chief Justice Margaret Ramsay-Hale (former Cayman Islands Chief Magistrate) spoke on the topic of “Recruitment, Retention and Discipline of Judicial Officers in Small Jurisdictions”.

In other panel presentations and breakout sessions, topics included court administration issues, environmental law, youth courts, cybercrime, options for judges taking control of cross-examination of vulnerable witnesses, using expert evidence in courts, and current developments in refugee/asylum laws.

Justice Williams, first elected to the three-year vice presidency in 2009, has been a CMJA council member since 2006. As vice president, he is responsible for ensuring that the CMJA secretariat is aware of any developments in the Caribbean that may affect judicial independence, a responsibility requiring him to maintain contact with judicial bodies in the region and to receive their reports. He is expected to present regional reports at annual council meetings.

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