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Oct 24, 2011

Court of Appeal meets in emergency session

Lois Young

It’s a most unusual, in fact from we know, the first time that the court of appeal was convened over an entire weekend and as early as six o’clock in the morning.  It is also a first time that the court is being sought to stop the Governor General from enacting a law. The legal maneuverings began since last week and will continue on Tuesday in the court of appeal which this morning granted an injunction to give way to full arguments in the case of Vaughan Gill and Ricardo Castillo. Both Gill and Castillo went to the Supreme Court on Wednesday seeking to prevent the governor from putting his signature to the controversial Ninth Amendment before a referendum is held. The Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin did not grant that injunction. His ruling came one hour before the House meeting on Friday, which passed the Ninth Amendment. But even as the mood among government supporters was festive in Belmopan, in Belize City, Attorneys Godfrey Smith and British QC Peter Goldsmith were working against the clock feverishly filing an appeal. Late Friday evening, the Court of Appeal agreed to convene on Saturday, which as we said, is a rare undertaking. Attorney for the government, Lois Young, made her submission that Justice Douglas Mendes did not have the jurisdiction to preside over the case as an individual appeals justice. She could also not provide an undertaking that the government would not proceed with enacting the ninth.  The court adjourned to resume on Sunday; Young shifted her submissions, arguing that the Court of Appeal could not meet on a Sunday. Justice Mendes then asked for skeleton arguments and agreed to resume the session at six o’clock this morning. Shortly after nine, a decision was handed down; the Court of Appeal granted an injunction. Young addressed the press.

Jules Vasquez, 7News

“And now you all are asking for a suspended injunction. The injunction is till four p.m. tomorrow. What would have been the purpose of suspending the injunction until the full court is moved?”

Lois Young, Attorney

“Because if it was suspended, then we would have gone ahead with our application—we will go ahead with our application to set it aside. We do suspect that the court will rule on that before four p.m. tomorrow.”

Jules Vasquez

“So even if it does rule in your favor, the injunction will still stand?”

Lois Young

“No, no, we will ask the court to set that aside—it will override the injunction that set it until four p.m.—that will be overruled.”

Jules Vasquez

“It has been a very unusual weekend—we’ve been here on Saturday, Sunday and we came here at six a.m. on Monday. In court you described it as unseemly haste. What do you make of these extraordinary precedence setting hearings?”

Lois Young

“I have no idea what to make of it. All I know is the application was filed on Friday and we were summoned to court on Saturday, brought back to court on Sunday and brought back to court this morning at six a.m. I have no idea why it had to be done in that haste, but that’s the way it is.”

Jules Vasquez

“Because a referendum is only, as I understand it, informative; it is not mandatory—I mean if the legislation passes.”

Lois Young

“Well the application was never to restrain the senate, so why was there such a haste to have it heard today. I think what they were trying to do was to restrain the senate by a backdoor—by somehow having an injunction on someone to stop the senate from meeting, but that is not possible. The senate wasn’t made a party to these proceedings.”

Marion Ali, Love News

“Now you made your arguments based on few grounds over the entire weekend. Can you tell us what those grounds are?”

Lois Young

“Basically that there is no obligation to have a referendum and that this referendum can be held at any time for whatever purpose. It won’t stop the legislative process. We’ve said that about twenty million times all over—in the lower court and in this court—they try to say there is an expectation that it would stop the process but there is no such expectation. The prime minister has always said, I will abide the outcome of the public consultation process—that is the process that goes from district to district. He never once referred to any referendum—in partilcuar a referendum where they paid two dollars for every signature and that is in the evidence.”

Jules Vasquez

“Now, we’re going to presume that y’all are going to ask for a hearing of the full court immediately. The justice of appeal Mendez indicated that he does not expect that the application by Vaughn Gill and Ricardo Castillo will have much success going forward.”

Lois Young

“Yes clearly he said the appeal stands very little chance of success.”

Jules Vasquez

“But then, explain the principle why such exhaustive and extraordinary measures are then being taken to hear an appeal with a slender chance of success?”

Lois Young

“Well I don’t know if the appeal will go forward after this.”

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8 Responses for “Court of Appeal meets in emergency session”

  1. Charlie Price says:

    MILLION DOLLAR LOIS…………She knows how to get paid(the big bucks). A good example for young girls.

  2. check it out says:

    if Lois Young-Barrow makes four hundred thousand dollars during regular working hours, how much you think we tax payers will have to pay her for weekends and overtime!!!

  3. Jan says:

    As the saying goes it takes one to know one. That lady really knows what she does. She might be a respectable lawyer working with the present administration, she might be earning big bucks for her work done or given more cause of the neoptism the polticians always practice. But please oh respectable lawyer do not insult us, and I say it here in this forum I signed my name on that paper and I informed her that no one paid me $2.00 dollars. I want to exercise my right for democracy and I always do…

  4. CEO says:

    It does not matter the cost let the democratoc process work.

    It is a very good thing to have a referendum before the constitution is changed! It should be the will of the people and not the will of the politicians.

    Our system is experiencing some growing pains! This would have been a very easy Bill to pass 1) if they wrote a better Bill that did not disrespect the court of the land and 2) they should have sold the Bill better to the public. It just seem that they were raming it through and the significance of this Bill is far reaching and mainly undemocratic!

  5. Belize says:

    It is disgusting that the only persons benefitting from this ongoing ordeal are the lawyers from both sides. We the poor get nothing. this is where our tax paying dollars are going. They are the ones sucking this country dry.

  6. Retired CEO says:

    This looks like a very sick joke, GOB is all barrows, keeping the $$$$$ in the family, while the poor has to steal and turn to crime to survive and feed their families. Mr. Prime Minister where is your sense of decency and fairness. This is one of the major reasons why you and bunch of bufoons in Belmopan has to go.

  7. Steve says:

    I wonder why Barrow is afraid of a referendum? Come clean dean. If your 9th amendment bill is well crafted to benefit Belizeans figure out why open-minded and independent thinkers are against this bill. Can’t you see that only your family, ministers and paid lackeys are in favor of this bill? There comes Lois to your rescue but only she knows why she is fighting tooth and nail for this bill. I also wonder: if the PUP were passing this 9th amendment bill, what would be Lois position? Would she be defending the bill? Or she defends Deann?

  8. Natasha Waltemath says:

    It always takes me more than 3 weeks to get ready an excellent impromptu speech.

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