The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) yesterday made its first written ruling in Guyana, granting an application for special leave to appeal a criminal conviction.
CCJ President Sir Denis Byron and other members of the court, Justices David Hayton, Jacob Wit, Winston Anderson and Adrian Saunders, heard arguments on Monday when the CCJ began its first sitting in Guyana, at the Guyana International Conference Centre at Liliendaal.
In delivering its ruling yesterday, the Court agreed with submissions by attorneys Sanjeev Datadin and Charles Ramson Jnr that there was an arguable appeal on behalf of their clients Paul Lashley and John Campayne, who had been charged with break and enter and larceny in the Magistrate’s Court and were subsequently convicted.
Datadin had argued that the incompetence of Counsel for Lashley and Campayne was such that it deprived them of a fair hearing. He had additionally argued, in the alternative, that the sentence of the Magistrate was unduly severe. Sonia Joseph, who is attached to the Director of Public Prosecutions’ office, appeared for the State.
The judgment was read by CCJ President Sir Denis, who said that it was the decision of the whole Court that leave to appeal against the decision of the Court of Appeal of Guyana to the Caribbean Court of Justice be granted.
The Court went on to set the hearing of the substantive appeal for April 10th, 2014 at the seat of the Court in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, with Joseph being permitted to address the Court via video-conference after she said she was not interested in travelling to Trinidad.
After the judgment was given, Datadin, in an invited comment, said that he was pleased with the judgment but was even happier that the decision of the Court was delivered in less than 24 hours. He said it was a great example of the system working. When asked whether the Guyana Courts should strive to deliver their rulings with similar promptness, he said, “It wouldn’t hurt.” He, however, declined to make further comments about the Guyana judicial system but admitted, “It’s no secret that cases are taking too long to be completed and judgments are taking too long to be delivered.”
Ramson, when asked about his thoughts of the decision, said, “All cases, and especially criminal cases, must be viewed through the lens of fairness and any instance of an unfair conviction resonates beyond the walls of that single courtroom–it is systemic. So, in granting this application, the system of justice and equally important the perception of justice have been manifestly protected.”
The CCJ also completed hearing two other cases yesterday—Feizal Mohamed Amin (trading under the name and style and firm of Amin Lumber Enterprise) v Guyana Oil Company Limited and Daniel Ramlagan by Ramkumarie Ramlagan v Narine Singh by Saiojine Singh.