Court rules it has no jurisdiction to hear the application
BELIZE CITY, Mon. Oct. 21, 2019– The Director of Public Prosecutions’ appeal of the acquittal of Calaney Flowers for murder and attempted murder came up as the Court of Appeal opened this morning. In a noticeable departure from the tradition, the court heard oral submissions from the Crown, represented by Senior Crown Counsel, Sheiniza Smith, before it heard from attorney Anthony Sylvestre, who represented Calaney Flowers.
Following the submissions, which took about an hour, the court adjourned for a few minutes, before the appeal justices returned to the courtroom and the president of the Court of Appeal, Justice Manuel Sosa, delivered the court’s ruling on the application for leave to appeal.
Justice Sosa thanked both counsels for their assistance to the court with both their written and oral arguments, before handing down this ruling: “The application for leave to appeal by the Crown is dismissed, without adjudication, for want of its jurisdiction on the part of the court to hear this application.”
Justice Sosa added, “The reasons for this decision will be given in writing at a later date.”
In August 2012, Flowers, who is the mother of a child fathered by Lyndon Morrison, 29, allegedly knocked down Morrison as he rode his Kawasaki Ninja motorcycle on Freetown Road. Traveling with Morrison on the motorcycle was his new girlfriend, Sochyl Sosa, who was pregnant at the time and suffered a miscarriage.
Flowers was booked on murder and attempted murder charges and remanded to the Belize Central Prison until her case came up.
In March 2017, the then Supreme Court Justice, John “Troadio” Gonzalez, found Calaney Flowers not guilty of the murder of her baby’s father Lyndon Morrison, 29, and the attempted murder of Morrison’s girlfriend, Sochyl Sosa. The judge acquitted Flowers after her defense team had made a no-case-to-answer submission at the close of the prosecution’s case.
The office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) challenged Flowers’ acquittal when they filed an appeal at the Court of Appeal. The matter came up for mention on more than one occasion when Flowers had left the jurisdiction. Flowers returned to Belize last December, after she was deported from the United States, where she had gone after the conclusion of the Supreme Court trial, with the judge sitting without jury.
After the hearing, attorney Sylvestre gave an interview to reporters and he was asked for his impression of what had transpired in court today.
Sylvestre explained that when he took up the case and did the legal research, he discovered that the DPP did not have a right to appeal an acquittal in cases where a full trial had taken place. That right to appeal could only have been done at the end of the prosecution’s case where the judge had directed the jury to return a not guilty verdict.
Sylvestre went on to explain that in our laws, if it was a jury trial, the DPP would not have been able to appeal the acquittal; “similarly, that rule applies to a non-jury trial,” he said.
Sylvestre said that for an appeal to be allowed, there have to be legislative changes, “so Parliament would have to come up with a piece of legislation to deal with that.”
Sylvestre stressed that for his client, the matter has effectively come to an end with the Court of Appeal decision today. However, he cautioned that the DDP still has a right to appeal the Court of Appeal decision, which they will have 42 days to file, after receiving the written judgment from the Court of Appeal.