Defendant’s choice must be noted

When a defendant has a choice of being dealt with by the Summary Court or the Grand Court, there must be some written record of what the choice was.

The Court of Appeal made it clear that the choice, referred to as election, affects the question of which court has jurisdiction; it is not a point of procedure.

Consent has to be expressed; it cannot be inferred, the judges said.

Mr. Justices Edward Zacca, Martin Taylor and Elliott Mottley made their comments during the appeal and cross-appeal of Clarissa Zelaya De Acosta. See separate story.

Attorney Nicholas Dixey argued, as he did in Grand Court, that De Acosta had not been given the opportunity to elect Grand Court for her trial on a charge of importation of over five kilos of cocaine.

Crown Counsel Trevor Ward pointed to a statement from the magistrate, who indicated that she normally did not take a plea unless there was an election.

Mr. Ward said one could not presume the election did not take place.

Court president Mr. Justice Zacca said the election should be noted.

Mr. Ward agreed it would be best if it were reduced to writing.

The president replied that it was not the best way – it was the only way.

‘It’s an important aspect of the case and it should be noted,’ he summarised.

The judges also heard arguments on the burden of proof and said they would put the reasons for their decision in writing.