Appeal Court reinstates 3 magisterial cases

File photo
File photo

TWO appeals were reinstated on Friday because of errors by the presiding magistrate, and a third because the appellant failed to turn up for it.

In one of the matters, Leslie Joseph will face another trial for using annoying language to provoke others to commit a breach of the peace, after Appeal Court judges Allan Mendonca and Gillian Lucky reinstated the State’s appeal in the name of the arresting officer, Insp Arlet Groome, who charged Joseph.

Presiding over the appeal virtually, Mendonca said it appeared the “magistrate got it awfully wrong” in throwing out the charge against Joseph, because “his recollection was that it was not a charge known in law.”

Mendonca said it appeared the magistrate “misunderstood what the charge was all about” and didn’t take the time to look at the relevant section of law.

“If he did, he would have seen it covered…It comes across as if magistrates are not provided with lawbooks as well and have to recall from memory.”

Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions Tricia Hudlin-Cooper prosecuted the appeal, which was allowed. Since the matter was reinstated, it will return to the magistrates’ court for prosecution.

The other appeal to be reinstated involved a matter at the Arima magistrates’ court in which charges against Kevon Baptiste were dismissed because of the absence of the officer who charged him.

However, assistant DPP Sabrina Dougdeen-Jaglal, who prosecuted the appeal, said at the time the magistrate had been told the charging officer (or complainant) was at the Tunapuna court, and the matter could have been stood down to allow him to get to the Arima court.

“The police prosecutor was in communication with him.”

She also said the magistrate did not make further inquiries about the availability of witnesses or whether the matter could have progressed on that day, but simply dismissed it because PC Sean Bidessie was not there.

Mendonca said while delays did compromise the administration of justice, there was no record of whether on that day, the matter had been set aside for a trial.

Both he and Lucky agreed to allow the State’s appeal and have the matter sent back to the Arima court.

Also reinstated was a charge against an Arima woman, Marilyn Layne, who was fined $15,000 for being in possession of 13.65 grammes of cocaine.

Layne appealed the magistrate’s sentence and conviction, but did not show up on Friday to prosecute her appeal.

Mendonca said an appellant had a responsibility to follow through with an appeal. Layne’s appeal was dismissed and her conviction and sentence were affirmed. Mendonca said if she learned of their order, and was still interested, she could apply to have her appeal reinstated.

“Once you file an appeal, you have to pursue it,” was the court’s message.

Another matter was challenged by a man convicted of being in possession of seven grammes of marijuana back in 2017. Acknowledging that the law has since been amended, Mendonca said there was no argument the offence at the time was in breach of the law.

He said with Parliament’s intervention, societal norms now see nothing wrong with someone having 30 grammes for personal use.

“So where do we stand?” he asked.

“I am looking at his record, and the note that this appellant was a candidate for drug treatment court,” Dougdeen-Jaglal said as the judges questioned whether they should not reprimand and discharge Daniel Ramgoolam.

Dougdeen-Jaglal was given an opportunity by the court to find out whether Ramgoolam had been granted bail when he appealed his conviction or had already served the sentence imposed on him.

At Friday’s hearing of magisterial appeals, some were withdrawn and others adjourned to a date in November.

Also presiding over some of the appeals was Justice of Appeal Charmaine Pemberton.

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