Tuesday, January 31, 2012

ReCAP in the Court Room


Dated: January 31st, 2011

What was fascinating for this case was watching how we did not start on time, how the lawyers all met in chambers before the case and the formalities of referring to the Justice as milady.It was also interesting to see the Catholic Bishop, Eugene Crawford, Scott Stirm, Maria Zabaneh all sitting in the first half of the pews while I sat beside Jules and Richard Smith. Who call, my good friends.

The section 53 case brought by UniBAM was set on fire on January 30th, 2011 when cross-applications were heard starting with the Churches. Listening to the Churches representation Michel Chebat, one would thing that we could not counter with any arguments Michel argued the following:

1).That UniBAM has no constitutional standing because it was not a person and as a result could not have sex.
2).That affidavits submission of expert witness by UniBAM needed to be struck out because they did not follow court procedures properly and they requested that their experts be allowed into the hearings.
3).That UniBAM made no statement that its constitutional challenge was violated.
4).That there is not statement to certify that experts of UniBAM would serve the court to help it understand the issue.
5).They argued that "in relation to him" was important to consider for the interpretation of rights violation does not

They arguments furthered from 10:30 until 11:30 when the light went out and the court was forced to adjourn for two. Interesting enough we realize that there were some procedural matters that needed to be challenged and that came when Lisa Shoman, instructing attorney for The United Belize Advocacy Movement presented. She presented her case in the following way:

1).This case was not brought against the church, it was brought against the Attorney General and as such, one needs to questions whether the cross-application should be entertained at all as the case was filed not as a co-respondent, but as respondent and interested parties.

2).She argued that UniBAM was a person and presented case law as evidence to the court.

3). She argued on the similar basis as our opponents that their experts be struck out, but we learnt later that the affidavits submitted by Wright, Lawrence etc were not submission of experts and that only now were the churches claiming from the court permission to submit expert witnesses.

4). She argued strongly that UniBAM is a legal person  and made reference to the interpretation act which went even further in the definition of what is a person with reference to the Maya Leaders case to an almost unlimited in scope.
5).She reference other case law like BELA to show that as long as a group has a track record of defending the weak, downtrodden etc, there was space for a class action representation, but if the group have member wealthy enough to defend themselves that such request may not apply.

6). She further challenge the submission of the affidavits as scandalous, devoid of facts, irrelevant and scandalous.

7).She argued for the inclusion of our experts, but we shall see what the judges decision is when she gives notice to all parties.

In the concluding arguments the AG office representative Nigel Hawke, pointed out that his office is aligned with the churches positions, then he changed the word to adopt. Then he shared that it was his view that the process seems still in case management. It was clear he did not like the perception created that his office was not doing its job.Still the case concluded with a laugh. People left  with the expectations that the court will give notice about judgement on who will stay and who will be struck out in the cross-application.

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