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Oct 24, 2011

Godfrey Smith says the case is good for democracy

Godfrey Smith

The attorneys for Ricardo Castillo and Vaughan Gill are holding onto what pundits believe is a shoe string before justices Dennis Morrison, Manuel Sosa and Duke Pollard.  They faced a tough day in the Court of Appeal, but Godfrey Smith says the case is good for democracy.

Godfrey Smith, Attorney

“The injunction is in place—that was not upset by this full court. We hoped that as we prayed for in our application, the full court will vary the order of the single judge and extend the injunction to cover until the full determination of the appeal is heard.”

Jules Vasquez

“Are you satisfied with what transpired in court today? It seemed at times—this is just an outsider’s opinion—that you all were fighting a pill because the precedence nor the law necessarily support the binding nature or the needfulness of a referendum?”

Godfrey Smith

“I will not deny it is not the easiest of cases, but I thought that our side made sufficient point to distinguish the one Privy Council case that everybody refers to which si the decision of Vellos that started here in Belize. But we believe that we made sufficient points to attempt to distinguish that and hopefully the court will be attracted to those points of distinction.”

Jules Vasquez

“It has been an extraordinary weekend in terms of weekend hearing—Sunday hearing, six a.m. hearing. At the end of it, do you feel it would have all been worth it?”

Godfrey Smith

“Absolutely. I believe it would have been worth it regardless of how decision goes Jules because I think it is good for democracy; it’s invigorating for democratic process. And you know a lot of people have said how did this come about? How do they sit on Saturday, Sunday, six in the morning? Actually there is nothing extraordinary abut that in other places. Courts provide a service just like any other service provider and providing you can show that your situation merits an emergency hearing, courts should do it—it happens all the time in many parts of the commonwealth.”

Jules Vasquez

“How would you respond to the other side made a criticism that this is all just political—that your clients are political operatives and all the motivation for this is political and the court should not effect what the opposition could not do in the legislature?”

Godfrey Smith

“Well, this is not the first case in which the issue of referendum arises. In the Vellos case that everybody refers to—lawyers on both sides; judges at every stage—that deals with referendum and what is the meaning of the referendum act and when it should be held, etc. We have followed right in the wake of that case—this case is about the referendum act, the democratic process and under what conditions, the timing of referendum—when it should be held or shouldn’t be held. Nobody will deny that the case emanates from a political context—everything in Belize is hugely political as we all know. So in that sense it’s political, but certainly the actual claim that’s brought is legal. And the simply proof of that is at no stage—neither before the chief justice, nor before the single judge nor indeed before the Court of Appeal—has any of the judges said this is frivolous or vexatious claim. Chief Justice Benjamin characterized it as a serious issue—he wasn’t persuaded. And for the same reason, if the single judge did not think that it merited an emergency meeting, he would have thrown it out.”

Jules Vasquez

“But he said that it has a very little prospect of success.”

Godfrey Smith

“He did say that, but that is not the same thing as saying it’s a frivolous case; it’s brought for political motives, etc—it has a meaning in law.”

So that’s where we stand tonight. An injunction has been granted preventing enactment of the hugely controversial ninth amendment, which has been passed by both House and Senate.

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1 Response for “Godfrey Smith says the case is good for democracy”

  1. CEO says:

    Very good! The politicians should never be allowed to ram a Bill with this much significance through the House and their Rubber Stamp Senate.

    Let’s start ellecting our senators so they can stop being a rubber stamof the government in power.

    Thwe democratic process is at work!

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