A lawyer for one of the respondents in the two election petitions that the opposition filed challenging the results of the December 2015 general elections is asking for a postponement of the hearing of evidence, scheduled to begin on Monday.
High Court judge, Justice Esco Henry, who is presiding over the matter, will hear tomorrow, Friday, the application by Grahame Bollers.
Bollers is lead counsel for Sir Louis Straker and Montgomery Daniel, Members of Parliament for Central Leeward and North Windward.
The New Democratic Party’s candidates in those districts — Ben Exeter and Lauron “Sharer” Baptiste — are challenging the outcome of the vote in those districts.
Electoral officials say the two constituencies were won by the Unity Labour Party’s candidates to secure eight of the 15 parliamentary seats and a fourth consecutive term in office.
The NDP won the remaining seven seats.
The protracted trial of the petitions was slated to being hearing oral testimonies next Monday through Friday.
On July 12, the court fixed Dec. 3 to 7 for the hearing of oral testimonies.
Justice Henry reportedly told the parties then that it would take something earth-shattering for the court to allow another postponement.
However, this week, Carlos James, a lawyer for the government in the matter, wrote to the court saying that Bollers “has been becoming progressively unwell over the last three to four months, and experiencing symptoms not inconsistent with cardiovascular problems”.
James said that these symptoms include “shortness of breath, dizziness, chest pains, and neck pains”.
In his application, James, who is also a senator for the ULP administration, said that on attending his general practitioner, Dr. Wayne D. Murray, Bollers was told “to cease and desist all work related activity and has been referred for various tests and to cardiac specialists out of the jurisdiction”.
James said Bollers has had complaints of a similar nature previously and is prepared to show such supporting documentation to the court and to the lawyer for the petitioners.
He said this will be done “in confidence if so required, but in interest of privacy would not wish this information to be part of the public record available to the public at large”.
The application said Bollers has considerable experience in election matters, and his junior — James — “is not sufficiently experienced to conduct the said respondents’ cases without Mr. Bollers’ guidance and supervision and general input especially given the short notice and “the specialised nature of the election petition proceedings “and also in view of the high importance to all parities and to the public at large”.
The application said that the respondents have also said they wish Mr. Bollers to conduct the matter personally, since he has been involved in these proceedings since their inception.
“Mr. Montgomery Daniel and Sir Louis Straker verily believe they will be seriously prejudiced in their respective cases unless represented by Mr. Bollers as the consequences of an adverse ruling will mean they will have to vacate their seats.”
Speaking to iWitness News on Thursday, Stanley “Stalky” John, QC, lead counsel for the petitioners, said his clients have objected to Bollers’ application.
He said that the judge has given further directions so that all parties can be ready for the scheduled hearing next Monday.
“But, in the meantime, lead counsel overseas for one of the respondents, called and spoke with me indicating that since the judge did not hear the application of Mr. Bollers but had put it down to be heard on Monday, whether or not, in order to avoid the inconvenience and the expense, lawyers for both sides could approach the judge and ask her if they can hear it earlier — before the end of this week.”
John said that legal practitioners for both sides signed a letter asking the judge whether the application can be heard on Friday.
The judge met with the lawyers on Thursday (today) and decided that the application would be heard on Friday — tomorrow.