State Advocate requests judge's permission to appeal interim measure ordering magistrate's substitution

The order to substitute the magistrate was first suspending on Friday morning, but later reversed by the same court

A judge’s recent order for the substitution of the magistrate hearing a case against the Commissioner of Police was first suspended this morning, following urgent requests filed by the State Advocate, only for the same court to reverse that decision later this afternoon.

In two urgent applications filed today, the State Advocate asked the First Hall of the Civil Court in its Constitutional jurisdiction for permission to file an appeal to a recent decision by that court, which had earlier this week ordered the replacement of Magistrate Nadine Lia in hearing challenge proceedings filed  against the commissioner of police by NGO Repubblika.

The applications, which were signed by lawyers James D’Agostino and Isaac Zammit, asked the court to suspend the effects of the interim measure granted on 10 October as well as to  grant the State Advocate permission to file an appeal.

In view of the sensitivity of a dispute which had led to the removal of the presiding magistrate, it would be proper to have the matter conclusively decided by the Constitutional Court before the case continued on the merits, argued the lawyers.

Amongst the arguments raised was because the court had ordered the challenge proceedings to continue before another magistrate, this meant that it had effectively granted Repubblika’s request before the breach of rights alleged by the NGO had even been investigated by the court, creating a fait accomplit and reducing the rest of the proceedings to “an academic exercise,” the applications claimed.

In the first decree issued today, Mr. Justice Ian Spiteri Bailey simply stated that the court had seen the State Advocate’s application and was upholding the request.

However that decree was later today superseded by another one, stating that it was revoking its previous decree due to the fact that the court needed to hear the parties’s submissions before issuing a decision. The case was adjourned to 25 October for this purpose.

This prompted Repubblika’s lawyer Jason Azzopardi to file an urgent application of his own at around 3pm this afternoon.

In it, the organisation states that it had just been made aware that the court had just issued a decree in which “presumably some request by the State Advocate for permission to appeal was granted”, adding that it had not been served with any applications filed by the State Advocate. 

“Repubblika kindly draws the attention of the honourable court that as article 231(1) of the Code of Organisation and Civil Procedure states that such a decree must be given in open court, it has replies it humbly wishes to give to this request by the State Advocate.”

The application, which was upheld, requested the court to revoke every decree that it had issued today at the request of the State Advocate and allow it to make its submissions. 

The case was adjourned to October 25 for this purpose.