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Dec 19, 2012

Mexican in Court for drugs and arsenal inside hotel room

A drug trial was set to start this morning in the Corozal Magistrate Court. Units of the police and B.D.F. were deployed to the courtroom area in numbers as a Mexican national arrested in the November Las Vegas Casino bust was escorted to court. As the first order of business, attorneys for Zurisday Villasenor Mendez, asked for the recusal of the Cayo Magistrate on the bench. News Five’s Delahnie Bain reports.

 

Delahnie Bain, Reporting

The portion of Fifth Avenue in front of the Corozal Magistrate’s Court was closed to traffic this morning and once again, the area was flooded with heavily armed police officers and B.D.F. soldiers as Mexican national Zurisday Villasenor Mendez was taken to court. But instead of starting the trial, Mendez’ attorneys, Dickie Bradley and Arthur Saldivar, submitted an application seeking to have Cayo Magistrate, Nardia Morgan, recuse herself from the case.

 

Zurisday Villasenor Mendez

Arthur Saldivar, Attorney for Zurisday Villasenor Mendez

“In reading the Inferior Courts Act, it is clearly expressed that where there is a special magistrate brought in to try a particular case, the Judicial Services Commission should do that appointment and that in that regard, it would happen where there are reasons given for the actual magistrate in that jurisdiction not being able to do the function that he is appointed to do. In this case, that has never been done so it basically cast a specter of bias, an appearance of bias on the whole proceeding, which goes contrary to the requirement of a fair trial that the constitution guarantees.”

 

Saldivar says they first approached the magistrate in chambers to avoid bringing embarrassment to the bench.

 

Arthur Saldivar

Arthur Saldivar

“All the portions of law that were pertinent to the issue were brought to her attention. In that situation, she said well she wouldn’t recuse herself because she did not have the advice needed, meaning that she didn’t have time to read and appreciate what the law was saying. And her reply was that this was a practice in Belize. I have never had that situation occur in any case that I have done, that a magistrate from another jurisdiction would come and hear a particular case like that so I didn’t know where she was coming from with that particular suggestion. Apart from the legislation itself, the court of appeals judgment in the B.E.L. and P.U.C. matter, which is civil appeal number eight of 2009, was presented to the magistrate, which shows clearly that where there is any slight inkling that bias may be cited and could be evidenced, that it is the right and proper thing to do in removing oneself and allowing another magistrate.”

 

But Magistrate Morgan did not recuse herself and the application was then submitted in open court.

 

Arthur Saldivar

“In that regard now, she will go and seek advice I believe and advise herself. But the law is clear, the right and proper thing was for her to have stepped aside and allowed for another magistrate to come. This case should have been done today by another magistrate. Now this person, is having his freedom being deprived of him without due process; not as a result of disclosure not being available because that has been given already; not as a result of the prosecution not being ready because they were here; but because the magistrate does not appreciate the requirements of law as it relates to her position and does not appreciate under what authority she is made to function.”

 

Her refusal, Saldivar says raises even more questions regarding interference in the judiciary.

 

Arthur Saldivar

“It basically places the defense in a position to question whether or not the government is actually interfering with the processes of the court, which is something that none of us want to really contemplate because it means then that he government is manipulating the process and such a process could never be fair.  This magistrate has only one year of experience, one year. She is a very new and green magistrate. In the northern districts in particular there are two magistrates who have more experience and one who is a senior magistrate who operates in the Orange Walk Magistrates Court. Certainly, the defense would have no problem with any other magistrate coming in to do this matter and the senior magistrate from Orange Walk would have been fine for us to come and do this matter.”

 

Mendez was charged with keeping prohibited firearm and ammunition, unlicensed firearm, drug trafficking and possession of controlled drugs in November after a bust at the Las Vegas Casino yielded a cache of firearms, ammo, drugs and communication devices. But, according to Saldivar, the circumstances of his arrest still do not justify a specially selected magistrate.

 

Arthur Saldivar

“Certainly, a handpicked magistrate coming all the way from Cayo, neglecting the people of Cayo because now all those matters that were scheduled to be tried in the San Ignacio Magistrate Court had to be put on hold and for what? For her to come here to try an offense that is common to all jurisdictions? This is not a special offense that needs some magistrate with specialized training to come and do. This is a kept firearm without a license case. This is as mundane as they come. It’s a dime a dozen in Belize these days to have these kinds of cases. Certainly, I believe that the issue of the appearance of bias is sufficiently strong to ward against her imposing herself onto the matter. The mere fact that the application was made now in open court, presents that specter being even more pronounced and amplified. So if we feared a fair trial not being done before, we obviously would know if she comes back that we won’t be getting a fair trial.”

 

The case was adjourned until January third and Saldivar says he doesn’t expect Magistrate Morgan on the bench for trial. Delahnie Bain for News Five.

 

While Mendez will spend Christmas and bring in the New Year behind bars at the Central Prison, Saldivar opines that it’s better than being sentenced to fifteen years or more because of what he would consider a biased judgment. In the raid, police also confiscated vehicles, drugs, telecommunications and other paraphernalia. Two other men fled the area and were never arrested.

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9 Responses for “Mexican in Court for drugs and arsenal inside hotel room”

  1. Joe says:

    one man, yet all those Police and others involved with the plane in the south go free. Big JOKE,
    Laws in Belize are not equal

  2. Eye in the Sky says:

    It will be interesting to see who all will have their heads cut off by the Zetas and hung from the trees in front of the Corozal courthouse.

  3. Bear says:

    Dickie, we don’t want to hear about your precious Zeta having his “freedom being deprived.”

    He should be shot. He came to do war on the Jewel, and he is a public enemy.

    Good work, police, Now let’s finish the game with total victory.

  4. sandy box says:

    Wea wrong with u?? U kant bribe this one…

  5. gramps says:

    lock em down

  6. R.I. says:

    ARTHUR & DICKIE CONTINUE TO DEFEND THOSE ZETAS FROM MEXICO!!! GOOD JOB GUYS!!!! THEN BLAME THE GOVERNMENT WHEN CRIME GETS OUT OF HAND!!!.
    THE POLICE ARE DOING THEIR JOB AND THESE MONEY SEEKER LAWYERS ARE DEFENDING FOREIGN CRIMINALS WITH MONEY. SOMETIMES MONEY IS NOT ALL THAT IN LIFE!!! I WOULD PREFER MY COUNTRY RATHER THAN DEFENDING DRUG LORDS1!!

  7. egghead says:

    Heavily armed police and BDF for a trial, why can’t we used all these arms to patrol Belize City to get rid of all the scums?

  8. John T says:

    Saldivar is worried that he is unable to deliver on this one. Not all can be bought. look at the intensity of his words that are tantamount to contempt of court. Be careful oh little one the Guatemalan are still waiting on their money owed.

  9. rite says:

    This is crazy all that for one guy giving him special treatment come on dick ur one and arthur ur one too i know that its all about the money but come on why don’t represent a belizean that don’t have money and is innocent why this guy is guilty of all charges u have the evidence the judge should do his job put him behind bars just like any one.

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