By LAMECH JOHNSON
Tribune Staff Reporter
MEVLIN Maycock Sr is awaiting a Court of Appeal decision over his questioning its jurisdiction to order that he serve two more years in prison if he fails to pay a $250,000 fine. The Appeal Court had upheld his prison conviction for the possession of $1.2m worth of marijuana, but in doing so added the fine to better reflect the worth of the drugs confiscated.
After more than two hours of discussions yesterday on the issue, the Court of Appeal said it would reserve its judgment.
The court asked prosecutor Ambrose Armbrister to file submissions in a week about a possible variation of the fine, if in fact the court did rule that the additional sentence imposed was not legal.
Before addressing the legality issue, however, Jerone Roberts, Maycock Sr’s lawyer, was asked if he still wished to pursue the application in view of the London-based Privy Council’s decision to refuse Maycock Sr special leave to be heard on the same application.
Mr Roberts submitted that the Privy Council did not have jurisdiction to hear the matter because the Court of Appeal is the highest court for magisterial matters.
Justice Christopher Blackman, in response, noted that the matter in question has been an abuse of process considering that the nature of the application has changed since it was first brought to the court.
Justice Anita Allen added that the Court of Appeal did not have the jurisdiction to entertain their application if the Privy Council had already ruled on the matter, whether it had the jurisdiction or not.
This response prompted a back-and-forth between the judges and Mr Roberts on this point as he still maintained his position.
Justice Abdulai Conteh, however, reminded them that the underlying issue was the legality of the court’s decision to impose an additional fine and whether it was appropriate was not determined because the Privy Council did not grant leave to be heard on the application.
Mr Armbrister submitted that Maycock, Sr, the appellant, had no basis for being before the court.
On the question of the fine, Mr Roberts said his client had $50,000 in reserve to pay and was waiting on the sale of property valued at $84,000.
Mr Armbrister was not prepared to make submissions on this and was given a week’s time by the court to file submissions.
In February, the drug convict’s then-lawyer Roger Gomez II asked the court if it would allow his client to pay the fine in instalments. However, Mr Gomez was of the view that the court has the jurisdiction to do so, notwithstanding the application being relatively new to the country’s second highest court.
Mr Armbrister, however, has questioned the basis on how the application could be made to the appellate court. They were given time by the appellate court to do research and produce an authority to defend their respective positions on the matter.
In April, however, Maycock Sr dismissed the services of Mr Gomez and retained Mr Roberts to plead his case. He is now also questioning the Court of Appeal’s jurisdiction to stipulate that he receive two additional years in prison if he failed to pay an increased fine of $250,000.
Maycock Sr was convicted in the Magistrate’s Court for possession of $1.2 million worth of marijuana and sentenced to three years in prison as the magistrate took into consideration that he had already served two years in prison on remand.
On appeal against that conviction, the judges said they could find no fault with the magistrate’s ruling.
However, having dismissed the appeal, the appellate court added a $250,000 fine to the sentence to better reflect the worth of the confiscated drugs.
Maycock Sr, who has already completed his sentence, was told by the appellate court that he would face an additional two years in prison if he failed to pay the fine.