By LAMECH JOHNSON
Tribune Staff Reporter
FIVE of 11 men whose extradition requests to the United States on drug trafficking charges have been approved by the Court of Appeal must now ask that same court to consider reinstating their bail after a Supreme Court judge yesterday dismissed their bail applications.
Shanto Curry, Sheldon Moore, Gordon Newbold, Trevor Roberts and Devroy Moss appeared before Acting Chief Justice Stephen Isaacs hoping that he would accept submissions argued by their lawyers Murrio Ducille and Maurice Glinton, QC, concerning their release from the state’s custody pending their appeals to the London-based Judicial Committee of The Privy Council.
However, the judge ruled that a lower court could not rule on a decision made by a higher court.
The five applicants had been on bail since September 28, 2006 up until two weeks ago when their bail was revoked by the appellate court that committed them to the Department of Correctional Services to await extradition to the US.
“A number of issues were determined by the Court of Appeal in its judgment,” Acting Chief Justice Stephen Isaacs noted in his ruling.
“The committal order made May 7, 2013 was affirmed, the matter of the proper constitution of the court hearing the appeal was resolved and matters arising under Section 178 of the Evidence Act as it applied to the extradition hearing before the magistrate was disposed of.”
Mr Ducille, on Tuesday, argued “the principles guiding the court on bail applications as enunciated in Hurnam v the State (Mauritius) which are well received as well as the decision of the Court of Appeal in Attorney General v Daniel Ayo which is also well received. In both cases, the latter being a murder case, bail was granted. The overriding principle is that the accused will appear for his trial, will not interfere with the course of justice and will not re-offend while on bail.”
Mr Glinton adopted those submissions and focused on the questions raised regarding the Privy Council’s direction that the applicants be allowed to test evidence put before the committal magistrate under Section 178 of the Evidence Act to determine if the evidence ought to be disallowed for being more prejudicial than probative.
Franklyn Williams, deputy director of public prosecutions and one of two Crown respondents, replied that the matter “has moved out of the Supreme Court, which otherwise has unlimited jurisdiction.”
Loren Klein, the second Crown respondent in the bail application, offered the cases of Chokolingo vs the Attorney General of Trinidad and Tobago and Glinton vs The Registrar of The Bahamas Court of Appeal to support the Crown’s position concerning the principle that “a lower court cannot affect the decision of a higher court, and any relief sought from the decision of a higher court must be sought from that higher court.”
“I accept this principle as being applicable in the instant applications,” the judge ruled yesterday before dismissing the applications.
US federal prosecutors requested the extradition of Melvin Maycock Sr, Wilfred Ferguson, Carl Culmer, Lynden Deal, Brenden Deal, Curry, Moore, Newbold, Roberts and Moss back in 2004.
Two weeks ago, the appellate court ordered the committal of the accused men to the Department of Correctional Services to await hand-over to the US.
Committal proceedings began when they were apprehended in 2008.
Following disposal of the legal challenge to the Listening Devices Act (LDA), which was appealed to the Court of Appeal and then to the Privy Council, the judge hearing the case committed the appellants on May 7, 2013 to await extradition.
Following that committal, the appellants sought writs of habeas corpus in the Supreme Court before then Senior Justice Jon Isaacs.
After the hearing of the application for the writ, but before the decision, the Privy Council ruled on the LDA appeal on April 16, 2014.
The Privy Council dismissed the appeal against the constitutionality of Section 5(2)(a) of the LDA but granted the appellants the opportunity to open investigations during the extradition proceedings as to whether the limits of the authorizations were observed, if no findings had been made.
However the Supreme Court denied the appellants’ request for habeas corpus and the appellants appealed that decision to the Court of Appeal.
On appeal, the ability of Justice Abdulai Conteh to sit and hear the appeal was raised as a preliminary point.
The Court of Appeal, in its recent decision, addressed that point in dismissing the appeal of the 11 men.
The appellate judges also noted that the 11 appellants did not seize the opportunity provided by the Privy Council when it ruled on the constitutionality of the Listening Devices Act.