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Caribbean Court of Justice upholds right to appeal verdicts of non-jury trials

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Posted: Wednesday, July 15, 2020. 10:23 am CST.

By Aaron Humes: The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) yesterday ruled that the State, represented by the Director of Public Prosecutions, has the right to appeal any verdict obtained from a trial held without jury which he may consider a miscarriage of justice.

In the case of The Queen vs Calaney Flowers, on appeal from the Court of Appeal of Belize, CCJ president Adrian Saunders told the assembled grouping on video conference via YouTube: “We shall deliver the court’s written judgment, that will embody the reasons for the orders, in due course. But, as of now, I can say that the appeal is allowed, with reasons to follow. The orders prayed for by the Director of Public Prosecutions are granted, namely that Section 65, C, 3, of the Indictable Procedure Act gives the DPP a right of appeal against the verdict of acquittal of a judge, in a trial conducted without a jury. And the decision by the Court of Appeal, dismissing the application by the DPP, for want of jurisdiction, is set aside. In criminal matters, we make no orders as to costs.”

The Director, currently Cheryl-Lynn Vidal, represented herself and the State in the case while Flowers’ attorney is Anthony Sylvestre.

After introducing legislation, Belize’s Supreme Court has been conducting trials by judge alone for specific offenses, such as murder, since 2012.

Flowers was charged with the death of ex-partner Lyndon Morrison, 29, and attempted murder of his new girlfriend when they were allegedly knocked down while traveling together on a motor bike. Flowers was tried by now-retired Justice Troadio Gonzalez and acquitted.

Appeals to the Court of Appeal are routine in such matters, but the Court of Appeal last October refused to hear the appeal on the basis that it lacked jurisdiction and that the DPP’s Office had no right to appeal acquittals which come from non-jury trials.

Effectively, it means that Flowers faces an appeal on the merits of the case, but the written judgment must be handed down first.

 

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