Some are successful and shed tears of joy, others leave sad and disappointed when their appeal is either upheld or dismissed at the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court of Appeal now meeting in Dominica.
Some cases are upheld with light variations, with a matter involving Kerval Jno Baptiste being an example.
Jno Baptiste now has six months to obtain a $75,000 fine imposed on him by the court. If he cannot find that money he will be spending six months behind bars.
Jno Baptiste’s case goes way back to October 2010 when he was convicted for the possession of 39,138 grams of marijuana. He was fined $75,000 and given three months to pay up or spend 18 months in jail.
Court reports indicate he was arrested by the police after his bus was stopped and searched on the way to Portsmouth. The illegal substance was found concealed at the bottom of food bags in the bus. He told the police that the bags were given to him by someone called “Sammuel.” He said he did not know the person and was only doing an errand for which he was being paid $80.
The sentence was appealed with attorney, Lennox Lawrence, arguing before the court that when the sentence was imposed, the magistrate failed to consider, among other things, that Jno Baptiste was a first time offender and whether there were any mitigating and aggravating issues involved.
He stated that the sentence was harsh and excessive and the 18-month default payment was beyond the jurisdiction of the magistrate who had ‘erred in law.’
But state attorney in the office of the DPP, Sherma Dalrymple told the appeal court that the sentence was not excessive and the fine was okay.
She stated that Jno Baptiste actually got a 50 percent discount on the fine since the maximum penalty for the offense is $150,000 or six months in jail.
In handing down the decision on the matter Justice of Appeal, Mario Michel, dismissed all grounds of the appeal stating that the magistrate properly convicted Jno Baptiste based on evidence.
“We are of the view that he carried a substance knowing that it was a controlled drug,” he said. “The court does not consider the fine as excessive since it is consistent with being a first time offender. In the circumstances the appeal is dismissed; the fine of $75,000 remains but is varied and must be paid within six months of today’s date ( Thursday, March 27) or in default six months in jail.”
The court also noted that it has been four years since Jno Baptiste was convicted and it hopes that he has the fine ready to be paid.