Magistrate loses bid to prevent instructed committal of Regan Rodrigues

Regan ‘Grey Boy’ Rodrigues

Regan Rodrigues, called ‘Grey Boy,’ is expected to be placed before a magistrate’s court and committed for the murder of political activist Courtney Crum-Ewing.

This is in light of a ruling by Justice of Appeal Dawn Gregory, who last Friday denied Magistrate Judy Latchman’s request to stay a ruling compelling her to commit Rodrigues to stand trial for the murder.

Like Justice Brassington Reynolds, Justice Gregory, during an in-chamber hearing, asserted that the magistrate should comply with the direction given by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

At the conclusion of a preliminary inquiry (PI) on June 5th, 2017, Magistrate Latchman found that a prima facie case had not been established and discharged Rodrigues, ruling that there was no case against him.

Two days later, DPP Shalimar Ali-Hack issued a directive to the magistrate to take steps to commit Rodrigues to stand trial in the High Court for the capital offence.

Magistrate Latchman has since then, however, maintained that she would be unable to comply with the DPP’s directive, as she had found no evidence presented by the prosecution that it was Rodrigues who killed Crum-Ewing.

Speaking with this newspaper on Tuesday, attorney Arudranauth Gossai, who is representing the magistrate, explained that with Justice Gregory’s ruling, the DPP can now have Rodrigues committed.

Counsel said, however, that the court noted that Rodrigues’ committal will not affect the substantive appeal filed by Magistrate Latchman, which seeks in part to question the constitutionality of the DPP to interfere with the judicial discretion of the magistrate.

A date is yet to be fixed for the hearing of that substantive appeal.

After the magistrate made it clear that she was not going to comply with the directive, DPP Shalimar Ali-Hack commenced proceedings in the High Court, seeking among other things, that she shows why her decision to discharge the accused, should not be declared ultra vires, null and void.

Ali-Hack had issued the directive by way of a letter to Magistrate Latchman, while citing provisions set out in Section 72 (2) (ii) (a) of the Criminal Law (Procedure) Act. “I hereby remit to Your Worship the above-mentioned matter and direct you to comply with Sections 65 and 66 of the Criminal Law (Procedure) Act (CLPA), Chapter 10:01 with a view to committing the accused,” the letter stated.

In her application, the DPP advanced that the magistrate exceeded her authority in refusing to comply with her instructions to commit Rodrigues to trial.

The state also sought an order or rule nisi of certiorari directed to Magistrate Latchman, to show why her non-compliance with sections 65 and 66 of the CLPA Cap. 10:01; after receiving directions from the DPP to re-open the enquiry, to comply with Section 72 (2) (ii) (a) should not also be quashed for being void.

Finally, the DPP sought the similar order, directing the magistrate to show why she should not be compelled and directed to re-open the PI as directed.

In an oral ruling delivered on November 17th, Justice Brassington Reynolds said the court was unsatisfied that the magistrate had sufficiently shown why the orders nisi for certiorari and mandamus should not be made absolute.

The court ruled further that in her defence Magistrate Latchman “misconstrued and misapprehended her statutory obligations.”

It was a contention of the DPP that the magistrate “is not vested with a discretion, statutory or otherwise, to refuse to comply with the provisions of Section 72 (2) (ii) (a) of the CLPA, Chapter 10:01.

Noting that she was dissatisfied with Justice Reynolds’ ruling, Magistrate Latchman filed an appeal, and is contending, among other things, that the judge’s decision cannot be supported, having regard to the evidence and the law.

 

 

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