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Lawyer Shirlan "Zita" Barnwell during a break in the court proceedings on Tuesday, when she was cross-examined.  (iWN photo)
Lawyer Shirlan “Zita” Barnwell during a break in the court proceedings on Tuesday, when she was cross-examined. (iWN photo)
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A lawyer and witness for the opposition in the election petitions case has admitted to making an error in her witness statement.

The error became apparent on Tuesday, day two of the trial, when counsel Shirlan “Zita” Barnwell was testifying in the petition that Benjamin “Ben” Exeter of the New Democratic Party has brought.

Exeter is challenging the announced victory of Sir Louis Straker of the Unity Labour Party in Central Leeward in the December 2015 general election.

The NDP’s Lauron Baptiste is also challenging the election of the ULP’s Montgomery Daniel in North Windward in the same polls.

Barnwell was present at the final count on Dec. 10, 2015.

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During cross examination by lead counsel for the government, Senior Counsel Douglas Mendes, Barnwell said she arrived sometime after noon and stayed until the end of the final count but could not recall how much time she stayed there.

She, however, told the court that it was more than four hours.

She said she was present when the ballot box from CLF was opened and when every box opened thereafter was opened.

She, however, told the court that she could not recall which boxes were actually opened when she was there but knows that CLF and CLF 1 and at least one other box was opened when she was there.

Mendes went through each box by name asking the witness if she was present when it was opened and in most of the instances, she said that once it was opened after CLF, she was there.

Mendes went through the list of ballot boxes in descending alphabetic order and repeatedly asked the witness if she was there when each was opened.

But lead counsel for the petitioners, Stanley “Stalky” John rose and indicated to the court that the witness had answered the question and that Mendes was suggesting that the boxes were opened in descending order of the alphabet.

Barnwell has said in her witness statement that in the count she observed that each ballot bore a crease less than half way up the ballot.

She said that she noticed that when placed flat on the table, the portion above the crease laid flat but the portion above the crease was slightly elevated.

The witness further said that she concluded that the resulting crease was a true reflection of how the ballot was folded before the voter voted.

The crease indicated whether they were folded in such a way as to obscure the initials and official mark of the presiding officer who handled them, the witness said.

Her witness statement included a photograph of the said ballot.

Mendes told the witness that he assumed that the ballot that she was attaching was a ballot that she saw.

“The exact ballot?” Barnwell asked.

When her evidence was put to her again, Barnwell said, “I believe they are.”

Mendes then called Barnwell’s attention to one of the ballots that she exhibited and asked her to look at the witness statement of then Supervisor of Elections, Sylvia Findlay-Scrubb.

He pointed to the ballot paper issued to CLA1.

Asked if she was present when CLA1 was opened, Barnwell said no.

The lawyer asked her if she wanted to revisit her evidence regarding what she had seen and Barnwell said, “This is an error.”

“What is the error?” Mendes asked.

“The inclusion of this ballot,” Barnwell said.

“What exactly is the error?” he responded.

“The inclusion of this particular ballot,” Barnwell told the court.

“So, in fact, you did not see that particular ballot?” Mendes told the witness.

“That particular ballot? No, I did not,” Barnwell said.

“So why did you say that you saw it,” he asked.

“That is an error. It obviously has to be when I was compiling my witness statement that was selected in error,” Barnwell told the court.

Barnwell took the stand after the conclusion of the cross examination of Maia Eustace, another lawyer, who is also an instructing solicitor in one of the cases.

Exeter, along with Ethron Crease, of Barrouallie, also testified on Tuesday.

The trial continues.

12 replies on “PETITIONS TRIAL: Lawyers admit to error in witness statement”


  2. The problem is that it has taken so long for the petitions to finally go to trial: YEARS!!! that those that are honest and may not really remember all the small details are seen as dishonest because they honestly may not be able to remember after all these years. It is a shame that we have such a justice system that the government has been able to keep these petitions from being heard for all these years. Then we have a phoney or just a very corrupt lawyer making comments on this site trying to discredit any, all and everything about the petitioners case. In SVG (as in the USA) it is all this corruption and corrupt people that is what is dragging SVG into the gutter. They grasp at any tiny little inconsistency of the petitioners but they in turn allow all the inconsistencies, including all the gross corruption, of the Defendants that would be grounds for a new election in any democratic country on earth…but not SVG!

    1. Truth can never be replaced, it does not age or expire, something as important as that will stay in one’s mind forever. On the other hand, “ a liar has no memory”


    3. Please detail how “the government has been able to keep these petitions from being heard for all these years” using improper means to do so.

      There would never have been any petitions if the opposition had not acted like cry babies by refusing to accept the democratic will of the people.

  3. Proving my point once again!!You don’t have to be bright to be a lawyer. None of these people were at the top of their class

  4. JUSTICE DELAYED IS JUSTICE DENIED! This so-called ‘hearing’ is just a sham! The delay was engineered by those who run this country similarly to their authoritarian comrades in Russia, China,Venezuela, Cuba, Indonesia, etc, etc . Militarizing our homeland with goons and ton-ton-macoutes who blatantly suppress/arrest/detain/pauperize anyone who dare to oppose their despotic views! Just look at what they did (and still doing) to Bigger Bigs, Luzette King, Marcus DeFreitas, and teachers involved in recent court debacle and many others; dead and alive!…In our hallowed House of Parliament they caused physical injury to duly elected opposition members. Abuse our woman-folk! NO ACCOUNTABILITY because they JUST DON’T CARE!
    Vincentians,….” And this too, shall pass.” When the time comes you can change it with the power of your vote. ..’nuff said.

    1. If what you say is true, it logically follows that there could never be a change in government. If there is a change in government at the next election, what you say about the current regime would be proven false.

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