Appeals court unable to judge merits of case after witness confuses testimony

Judge Giovanni Grixti remarked that depositions in summary proceedings should be registered to avoid confusion at appeal stage

Judge Giovanni Grixti
Judge Giovanni Grixti

A judge has called depositions in summary proceedings in court to be registered before the court, in order to avoid unnecessary confusion and delays.

Judge Giovanni Grixti was presiding over the Court of Criminal Appeal in a case involving a man who stood accused of threatening his wife and causing her to fear violence, in an incident dating back to September 2016. 

The man was found guilty of causing his wife to fear violence and not guilty of threating her. He appealed against the guilty verdict on one of the charges.

In her testimony before the appeals court however, the woman had recounted an incident which took place in July of 2013. 

“It is evident that what [the woman] testified about before this court refers to a different incident than that being examined,” the court said, adding that the accused had also chosen not to testify.

“We therefore now have a situation  where it is not possible to know whether the first court could have legally and reasonably arrived at the conclusion it arrived at.”

The court observed that such a situation was due to the fact that depositions in summary proceedings are not registered. 

This, it said, led to a number of consequences including, “the witness forgetting what they had testified to by the time the appeal is heard, the witness changing their version of events, the witness confusing one incident for another… and many others, including a waste of time at the appeal stage”. 

“This is something that can be resolved by registering every deposition without there being the need to transcribe it, unless an appeal is lodged.”

The appeals court found the man not guilty on all counts.

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