BELIZE CITY, Fri. July 14, 2017–Orlando Vera, the convicted Deputy Director of the National Forensic and Science Services in the Home Affairs Ministry who was sentenced to serve two years in prison for abetment to pervert the course of justice, got “enough” of court delays in his bail application and asked Supreme Court Justice Herbert Lord to recuse himself from hearing his (Vera’s) appeal late this afternoon.
It had become apparent to Vera that his bail application was not going to be successful after a series of appearances and several directives from Justice Lord.
During this afternoon’s legal wrangling between Vera’s attorney, Anthony Sylvestre, and the Director of Public Prosecution, Cheryl-Lynn Vidal, S.C., Vidal submitted that the question of bail be abandoned and that the matter should proceed, to a full hearing of the appeal.
Justice Lord agreed, saying “we have received 98 to 99 percent of the file.” The judge was referring to the notes of evidence file from Vera’s Magistrate’s Court trial, which is integral to the appeal process.
“My ruling is as follows: bail is still denied at this point in time. No exceptional reason has been brought before the court,” Justice Lord said.
Justice Lord went on to rule that the defense should make its submission on or before July 24, and the Crown should make its submissions on or before July 31. The compact disk which contains a recording of the conversation in which Vera can be heard making a proposal to tamper with evidence on behalf of businessman Michael Moderi, is to be presented to complete the bundle on or before July 31 and with the completed bundle, the appeal is to commence on August 1.
“I will hear submissions on that date,” Justice Lord told the court.
At this point, Sylvestre asked Justice Lord if he could confer with his client, to which the judge replied, “Take as much time as you need.”
When Sylvestre returned, after speaking briefly with Vega, he announced that his client wanted his Lordship to recuse himself from hearing the appeal.
Sylvestre said that his client felt that the timeline set by the court should have been complied with.
DPP Vidal addressed the court after Sylvestre had communicated his client’s request that Justice Lord recuse himself.
“The application for a judge to recuse himself must be grounded on certain biases that are well established in law,” she said.
She went on to describe Vera’s request for Justice Lord to recuse himself as, “a dangerous proposition for an applicant to be suggesting that if the court [judge] does not agree with his position, he should be put before another judge.
“No proper basis has been given for Your Lordship to even consider recusal,” DPP Vidal said.
Justice Lord decided to give the parties until Wednesday, July 19, to make written submissions on the recusal application. The case has been adjourned to Friday, at 1:30 p.m.
At the end of the hearing, the only order that stands is the order which stipulates that the copy of the compact disk in which Vera was recorded speaking to Michael Moderi, be handed over by the Magistrate’s Court in order to complete the bundle of the record of the notes of evidence.
The other orders relating to dates for submission from the defense and the Crown have been suspended.