By FARRAH JOHNSON
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE Court of Appeal has denied a man’s request to appeal his extradition case to the Privy Council, after ruling his matter did not raise an arguable case or highlight a point of law of general public importance.
On December 12, 2002, Sean Bruey, also known as Shawn Saunders, was indicted in America on drug trafficking charges and a request for his extradition was made. Three days later, provisional warrants of apprehension were issued for Bruey and his co-accused pursuant to the Extradition Act. An Authority to Proceed was also issued, followed by committal proceedings which were conducted before Magistrate Carolita Bethell. Those proceedings concluded on November 12, 2003 with Bruey and the other fugitives being committed to prison to await their extradition.
Following this, Bruey applied for a judicial review and habeas corpus in the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal and the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. At the time, Bruey had applied to the Privy Council for special leave to appeal an earlier dismissal of his habeas corpus and constitutional applications by the Court of Appeal, but had withdrawn his application. According to a judgment on the Crown’s website, this withdrawal meant “all domestic proceedings pertaining to the extradition request were at an end, and (Bruey) was now amenable to be surrendered”.
Still, Bruey launched a “new constitutional challenge” to his extradition based on Article 17 of the Constitution and two sections of the Extradition Act. The matter eventually came before another judge, who rejected the applicant’s habeas corpus application and his effort to “engage the Constitution to achieve his release from custody”.
Bruey then filed an application with the Court of Appeal, but that was dismissed after the panel concluded the constitutional application was an “abuse of the courts’ processes’’ and argued there was “no merit in the applicant’s section 13 complaint”. Most recently, the applicant asked the panel to grant him leave to appeal to the Privy Council since he believed the judge and the justices were wrong when they failed to consider the “additional time” he spent in custody after he withdrew his application before the Privy Council.
On Monday, Justices Sir Michael Barnett, Jon Isaacs and Milton Evans denied his request but granted a 14-day conservatory order to give Bruey the “opportunity to seek special leave from the Privy Council”.
According to court documents, Bruey’s counsel argued his client’s appeal lay “as of right to the Privy Council” due to terms outlined in the Bahamas’ Constitution. His attorney further asserted the judge and panel failed to consider the “intolerable conditions” he was forced to endure while in custody “awaiting his surrender”.
In his judgment, Justice Isaacs noted how Bruey’s July 16 affidavit failed to show any evidence of him making a complaint to the Review Board or the Commissioner of the Bahamas Department of Correctional Services about his living conditions at BDCS. He said this showed the applicant did not resort to the “procedure set out in the inmates’ rules for redress of his grievance” which suggested he “failed to exhaust a reasonable and adequate means of redress” before he applied for constitutional relief.
“There is nothing exceptional about the applicant’s case that would cause the court to allow the applicant to utilise the Constitution in his bid to avoid his surrender to the requesting state,” he stated. “Importantly, he has already had an opportunity to mount a constitutional challenge to his extradition on virtually the same grounds in the present application; which he withdrew.
“We are satisfied that the applicant’s case does not cross even the first threshold of the two-stage test enunciated in RDA (a benchmark case), that is ‘an arguable case’. Moreover, the application does not raise any point of law of general public importance.”
Justice Issacs said it must be noted how the Court of Appeal dismissed Bruey’s application on the “constitutional aspect” of his case because the panel agreed with the judge’s view that Bruey’s applications “amounted to an abuse of the processes of the court”.
“In the premises, the application for leave to appeal to the Privy Council is refused,” he continued.
“Inasmuch as the applicant is in the same position as the fugitives in Austin Knowles et al, that is, in peril of undergoing a uniquely irreversible process, we grant a conservatory order for 14 days to allow the applicant the opportunity to seek special leave from the Privy Council.”