By NICO SCAVELLA
Tribune Staff Reporter
A DATE of December 14 has been set for the Supreme Court hearing of former Cabinet minister Shane Gibson’s application for constitutional relief on the basis that a magistrate’s lack of jurisdiction to grant bail according to the Bail Act is unconstitutional.
Additionally, Gibson has been granted leave by Justice Cheryl Grant-Thompson not to attend those proceedings, given the former Golden Gates MP is not seeking any relief from the application. However, according to his attorney Wayne Munroe, QC, Gibson remains on the application essentially “as a respondent” due to him being the original applicant.
Furthermore, Fred Smith, QC, attorney for self-styled activist Omar Archer Sr and attorney Maria Daxon, have filed affidavits . Mr Munroe told The Tribune that he and Mr Smith have agreed their respective matters should be heard together, given they cover the same material.
Last month, appearing before Justice Grant-Thompson during a mention hearing in connection with Gibson’s 31 bribery and extortion related charges, Mr Munroe sought to add several people to his client’s initial notice of motion for constitutional relief.
Those people, Mr Munroe said at the time, would have been remanded for different periods of time and would not have had the luxury of having such an application filed on their behalf like Gibson, who was granted $40,000 bail by Justice Grant-Thompson in August.
Nonetheless, Mr Munroe said at the time that should the application prove successful, it could result in a “substantial liability of the state” that could potentially cause the government to pay “millions of dollars” in damages to those persons affected.
On August 3, Gibson was arraigned in a Magistrate’s Court on 36 bribery and extortion related charges: one count of misconduct in public office, 16 counts of bribery, two counts of conspiracy to commit bribery, two counts of conspiracy to commit extortion and 15 counts of extortion – all of these concerned with Jonathan Ash.
The number of bribery and extortion related charges has since decreased to 31, though the amount he is alleged to have solicited from Mr Ash remains the same.
About an hour after his initial arraignment, Justice Grant-Thompson granted Gibson $40,000 bail with two sureties and on the condition he does not reoffend and attends his trial. She did not impose any travel restrictions on Gibson, and neither was he required to surrender his travel documents or check into any police station.
Shortly after Gibson was granted bail, however, Mr Munroe shared his intent to reporters to challenge the constitutionality of Section 4 3A of the Bail Act which removes the jurisdiction of magistrates to grant bail in those circumstances.
Last summer’s amendment to the Bail Act made charges of intentional libel, assault, stealing and a number of other previously bailable offences non-bailable in Magistrate’s Court which resulted in an increase in the number of persons being remanded to the Department of Correctional Services and having to apply for a bond in the Supreme Court.
Additionally, the amendment did not return the power of magistrates to grant bail for the offences of drug possession with intent to supply, certain firearms matters, rape, housebreaking, attempted murder and threats of death.