Supreme Court judge Roy Jones has called for the United States government to make its voice heard in court proceedings seeking to determine if Minister of Justice Dorothy Lightbourne has the authority to decline the extradition request for West Kingston strongman Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke.
Jones made the recommendation yesterday while releasing Opposition Leader Portia Simpson Miller and Joseph M. Matalon, president of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ), as defendants in the proceedings initiated by Lightbourne, who is also the attorney general.
Lightbourne had initially declined to sign a request to proceed with the extradition of Coke on the grounds that the evidence on which the United States’ case is based was acquired illegally. In court documents, the justice minister contends that she properly exercised her discretion with respect to the extradition request. “In my view, the party whose legal interests may be affected by the grant of the declaration sought by the minister is the government of the United States of America,” the judge said.
“They (US), however, enjoy sovereign immunity and cannot be named or served to be a party in this matter. The minister says, however, that they have been made aware of these proceedings and can elect whether they wish to intervene in any capacity they so choose.”
Jones ruled that Simpson Miller had no legal interest in the proceedings and should not be a defendant. She had filed an application seeking to be removed as a defendant in the matter.
Lightbourne had conceded last week that the PSOJ should not have been a defendant in the proceedings.
Hunt on for Dudus
Coke, who was one of the defendants, was not served with the claim form and was, therefore, not party to the proceedings. Dr Adolph Edwards who, along with Dr Lloyd Barnett, is representing the minister, told The Gleaner yesterday that “further attempts will be made to serve Coke”. The case-management conference for the declarations Lightbourne is seeking is set for June 1 in chambers at the Supreme Court.
No order was made as to legal costs for the two defendants. Lightbourne’s lawyers said yesterday that they were taking instructions from her as to whether they should appeal the judge’s ruling removing Simpson Miller as a defendant.
Coke, 41, has been named as a defendant because he is the accused in the extradition request. He is wanted in the United States to face charges for conspiracy to distribute cocaine and marijuana and conspiracy to illegally traffic firearms.
Portia Simpson Miller, for her part, said she would not be commenting until the matter had come to its end.
Attempts to reach Matalon proved futile.
A representative of the US government could not be reached for comment.