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Solomon Marin to stay free after Caribbean Court of Justice halts prison time

Posted: Monday, June 28, 2021. 10:41 am CST.

By Aaron Humes: Dangriga resident Solomon Marin, Jr., has had concurrent sentences of ten years for kidnapping and robbery stayed permanently by the Caribbean Court of Justice last week, after successfully arguing that the State breached his constitutional right to a fair hearing within a reasonable time.

Marin had duly appealed his conviction and sentences to the Court of Appeal but for some reason it took the higher court nine years to hear his case. Marin dropped the appeal against sentence and argued that the post-conviction delay breached his fundamental right to fair hearing within a reasonable time and asked that the conviction be quashed. The Director of Public Prosecutions, Senior Counsel Cheryl-Lynn Vidal, concurred but argued that the conviction was sound and the appellate court agreed, declining to grant a remedy and not quashing the conviction despite agreeing that Marin’s rights had been violated.

A full panel of the CCJ heard the case in March as argued by Anthony Sylvestre for Marin and the DPP for the State. It found that the Court of Appeal, as argued by Marin, had jurisdiction to and should have considered what remedy was appropriate to vindicate the violation. It did not agree with the State that Marin should have filed a separate originating application before the Supreme Court on the ground that this issue did not arise from and was not bound up with the substantive criminal proceedings.

The lead judgment of Justice Peter Jamadar explained that the Court of Appeal can, in certain circumstances, grant relief and a remedy for a breach of an individual’s fundamental rights where the breach arises during a case before it, even if not directly related to the issues that may or do arise from the substantive criminal trial and thus, a separate application need not be filed. 

Justice Denys Barrow concurred, discussing the reasons why both a declaration of breach of constitutional rights and an order suspending any further execution of the sentences imposed were the appropriate remedies in this matter.

He stated in the judgment, “Marin committed his crime in 2006 and could have expected to have served his sentence of 10 years imprisonment some time ago, with allowance for the usually expected parole or remission, as he would have done had there not been a total of 14 years pre-conviction and post-conviction delay. It is the State’s delay that has him still under sentence of imprisonment. To keep in existence the prospect of potentially sending him back to prison after that delay, now judicially pronounced to be unconstitutional, would be to extend the effect of the breach. To actually send him back to prison after that delay would be, if not inhuman, at least not “acceptable”, to use the epithet of the Privy Council in [the case of] Boolell. Since it would be wrong to send him back to prison, it serves no lawful purpose to leave him subject to that prospect.”

Marin was released on parole in February of this year; his sentence would have ended in January of 2023.

In a separate judgment, Justice Anderson found that the Court of Appeal possessed the jurisdiction to pronounce upon the claim of constitutional violations because that claim could properly be said to have arisen in the appellate proceedings before that court. He otherwise agreed that a clear breach had occurred and that a permanent stay of further enforcement of the sentences was the appropriate redress in all the circumstances of the case.


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