Thursday, June 5, 2014. AARON HUMES Reporting: There was some legal history today in Belize City, as for the first time in a case involving extradition, there has been a challenge mounted to the lower court’s actual decision in addition to the standard habeas corpus application filed in such cases.
28 year old Deon Bruce is accused of murder and related charges in the United States and Chief Magistrate Ann-Marie Smith ordered him to be extradited to stand trial in Chicago, Illinois earlier this year.
But Bruce’s attorney Audrey Matura-Shepherd is challenging how she arrived at the decision via judicial review.
She told reporters that there is precedent for simultaneous cases such as this in UK law and that the case against the extradition decision is solid.
In court, Matura-Shepherd laid six grounds for judicial review: that Chief Magistrate Smith acted above her authority legally to order Bruce’s extradition after concluding that there was sufficient evidence when the actual decision to extradite is up to the Minister of Foreign Affairs; that she made certain errors of law, procedure and exercise of authority; that the evidence presented by the U.S. Government was inadmissible both in form and substance and there was nothing for the court to consider; that the Chief Magistrate misguided herself on the evidence produced, leading to an erroneous conclusion in favour of the Government; that she erred in law by concluding that there was sufficient evidence under the laws of Belize that would satisfy extradition; and finally that she facilitated abuse of process by allowing the Solicitor General’s office to essentially conduct a private criminal prosecution of her client and demonstrated apparent bias against Bruce in the pre-hearing stage and despite that continued as adjudicator.
The case now turns to the habeas corpus application, which began this afternoon after Bruce was brought to court, having missed the morning session.
Arguments continue into Friday when the Government responds.
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