Advertisement 87
Advertisement 211
Senior Counsel Anthony Astaphan. (iWN file photo)
Senior Counsel Anthony Astaphan. (iWN file photo)
Advertisement 219

The main lawyer for the respondents in the elections petitions case has speculated that the judge will reserve her decision about whether to throw out the petitions as improperly filed.

Senior Counsel Anthony Astaphan, however, said that it would not be fair for him to speculate about when the judgment will be handed down, but said he believes it would come “fairly early”.

The High Court will, on Thursday, also hear arguments from the petitioners that the motion to strike is an abuse of the process and should be dismissed.

Speaking on Boom FM on Wednesday, Astaphan said, “I’ve always felt that we are on good ground. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that the judge can’t rule another way.

“It is entirely for the judge, but we are confident with our position.”

Advertisement 271

If the court rules against the respondents, the judge would then be expected to give direction for trial.

“Whoever loses the petitions is going to appeal… And that will take us into what? 2018?” Astaphan said of the proceedings, which are challenging the 2015 election results.

The court has set aside Thursday for the continuation of the proceeding and parties have indicated that they will be available Friday morning, if needed.

Astaphan has told the court that he needs about 2.5 hours to make his submission, while lead counsel for the petitioners, Queen’s Counsel Stanley “Stalky” John has said he would need a similar amount of time.

Grahame Bollers, a counsel for the respondents, has said he would need about five minutes, while Kay Bacchus-Baptiste, a member of the respondents’ legal team, has said that she would need about 30 minutes.

Stalky John
Queen’s Counsel Stanley “Stalky” John and his son, Akin John, also a lawyer, leave the court on Tuesday. (iWN photo)

The senior lawyer, however, expressed some objections to Keith Scotland, lead counsel for one of the petitioners requesting two and a half hours to make his submissions to the court.

“The cases are consolidated. Stalky John has filed very comprehensive and detailed and long submissions. I don’t see the necessity for another lawyer taking up another two and a half hours representing the petitions, because, when I tell you there is no issue in this case that Stalky John has not covered in his submission. None!

“I may not agree with it some. I definitely disagree frontally with most of it. Stalky has covered everything that could be said about the case on his side, plus more. Everything: the foundation, the yard, the pipeline, the electricity post. Everything.”

Astaphan said that his side is responding to John’s arguments, but added that he doesn’t know why all the lawyers for the petitioners “want to say a piece”.

“Keith Scotland, necessarily, has to say something because he is lead counsel for one of petitioners, but not two and half hours,” Astaphan said.

He added in the vernacular: “But, you know, we go see wha’ we go see.”

Astaphan further said John has covered every issue “that arose, could arose, should arise, will arise, would have arose covered.”

Astaphan, however, said that the respondents are “very, very prepared”.

“The fact that somebody has their bases covered doesn’t mean that it is property and correctly covered, mind you. But he has raised the issues and Stalky John is fighting this tooth and nail, and we are responding, tooth and nail.”

Astaphan, however, said he has seen “canyons and valleys” in John’s submissions.

“Major holes, bigger than some of the holes that you have in some of the streets in some of these islands over here. Potholes, my brother,” Astaphan said.

He, however, added: “But then again, the judge might see it as the smoothest five-lane highway in the history of the world.”

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, John said that in these matters, it is difficult to say you are confident.

“But we feel that we have a persuasive argument. We are preparing right up to the last wire. We are doing the best we can in giving the court the fullest assistance in deciding the matter in the fashion in which we are asking the court to decide,” he said.

The court is hearing arguments in two election petitions brought by the main opposition New Democratic Party (NDP), challenging the results in Central Leeward and North Windward in the December 2015 general elections.

The matter has reverted to the High Court for hearing by Justice Esco Henry, after the Court of Appeal ruled on March 7 that Justice Brian Cottle showed apparent bias in his decision to throw out the petitions last June as improperly filed.