Lawyer James Lewis leads the civil lawsuit against Juan Carlos I that will be heard this Monday and Tuesday in London before the High Court of Justice of England and Wales
One of the three attorneys listed in the civil lawsuit against Juan Carlos I (harassment, illegal tracking and defamation), together with the signature in handwriting of Corinna zu Sayn-Wittgenstein, is named James Lewis. He currently represents the United States government in the procedure to extradite the journalist. Julian Assange, founder of the Wikileaks agency, detained in the Belmarsh high security prison. Although a judge has already denied his delivery for health reasons, an appeal prepared by Lewis keeps him in prison and caused a new hearing, held at the end of October. The denouement is imminent.
To that prison, located in Thamesmead, south-east London, he was transferred in a wheelchair, only once before an English judge, the former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet on December 11, 1998, to appear at the beginning of the trial of his extradition to Spain. After Pinochet’s arrest in a London clinic on October 16, 1998 – he had just undergone surgery for a herniated disc – the judges of a section of the High Court of Justice granted the Chilean dictator immunity in his capacity as former head of state From Chile.
Great connoisseur of extraditions
The Crown Prosecution Service was instructed to file an appeal against the immunity of judge Baltasar Garzón – head of the central court of instruction number 5 of the National Court and today in the team that defends Assange – who had issued the arrest warrant to London. The Crown Prosecutor’s Office therefore hired two lawyers on October 20, 1998. The top extradition expert, Alun Jones, and a lawyer to handle the criminal proceedings. His name: James Lewis.
The appeal against the first court, the so-called Divisional Court, was presented to the judicial committee of the House of Lords, which acted as the Supreme Court. A first ruling of the judges-lores contrary to Pinochet had to be repeated. However, on March 24, 1999, the new sentence once again denied him immunity from torture crimes by an overwhelming 6 to 1 majority. Because, they ruled, torture is not part of the duties of a head of state.
On April 15, 1999, Lewis predicted: “Pinochet can sit in six months on the bench in Spain & rdquor ;. He was wrong. Although he won the trial against sovereign immunity and jurisdiction, the government of Tony Blair, instead of delivering the former dictator to Spain, sent him to Chile because, he argued, he suffered from supervening senility, which would prevent him from participating in a trial.
Lewis, like his colleague Jonathan Caplan, are part of a select group of lawyers barristers -which present the cases before the courts- called Queen’s Counsel or advisers of the queen, an honorary title of merit after a work experience of fifteen years. Another participates in the team barrister, Adam Chichester-Clark.
All three share a background in criminal and civil law, are specialists in corporate, individual and government litigation and experts in the media. It is difficult to find a national case in the United Kingdom and international in which one of these first swords is missing. In front of them, Juan Carlos I has hired the legal team of the international law firm Clifford Chance.
Lewis’ case is interesting regarding one of the problems that Juan Carlos I’s defense invokes in the face of Corinna’s claim: his immunity from civil proceedings for having been a former head of state.