Leader of the Opposition Godwin Friday has described as “extraordinary”, efforts of lawyers for the government to get the court to amend the March 21 ruling in which a judge dismissed the two election petitions.
“As you know, we are not the only ones who believe the judgment is flawed,” Friday told a press conference in Kingstown on Thursday.
“The lawyers for the respondents also think so and have written to the Registrar of the High Court saying that the decision is flawed and urging that Justice Stanley John fix it by giving additional reasons for his decision.”
Joseph Delves, a lawyer for the respondents in the case, has written three letters to the court, asking that then acting High Court judge, Justice Stanley John, explain why he ruled in the respondents’ favour on two of the claims made by the North Windward petitioner.
In that district, Lauron “Sharer” Baptiste of the New Democratic Party (NDP), which Friday leads, is challenging the election of Montgomery Daniel of the ruling Unity Labour Party.
The NDP has announced that it will appeal the ruling, as well as the decision of the court to dismiss its Central Leeward petition.
Justice John’s appointment as an acting High Court judge ended on March 21.
In the latest development, Delves on Thursday wrote to the court, asking that the Chief Justice reappoint Justice John temporarily so that he can provide his supplemental reasons for ruling as he did.
“This is extraordinary! The people who claimed they won the petitions cases are now complaining that the decision of the judge in respect of the North Windward constituency case is seriously flawed.”
He pointed out that in a letter on March 22 – one day after the judgment, Delves wrote to the registrar of the High Court saying that the decision did not deal with significant evidence presented by the petitioners at the trial and suggesting that the problems with the judgment be corrected before an appeal is launched.
Five days later, on March 27, not having had a response from the court, Delves wrote a second time to enquire whether their letter had been received by Justice Stanley John and when his supplementary reasons would be given.
Friday said: “So, you see the respondents’ lawyers in the North Windward constituency case are very concerned about the judgement in which they say they won. They were very anxious and could not wait even a week for the court to reply to their first letter. They had to write again.
“It would seem that they were anxious to have the judge write additional reasons for his decision to fix the problems with the judgment that they had identified before an appeal is filed by the petitioners! What are they afraid of?”
He said that the respondents are probably more worried after receiving the response of the court saying that Justice John is no longer a judge of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court as his appointment ended on March 21, 2019 — the day he gave his judgment.
“So, the registrar confirmed that the Judge was no longer was a judge of the court. This means that he could no longer do anything as a judge in the cases,” Friday said at the press conference, which came before it was made public that Delves had asked that the judge be reappointed.
Friday said that the judge had made it clear during the trial that he had only until March 21, 2019 to complete the matter, and when he finished his oral judgment in the court on that day, he said that this brought the matter to an end.
Further, on the website of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, there is publicly available information showing that Justice Stanley John was appointed as a judge only until March 21, 2019, Friday further noted.
“Knowing this, the lawyers for the respondents still felt it was proper and useful to write to the court to ask the judge to continue to act as judge in the matter by writing additional reasons for his decision to correct problems they saw in the judgement.
“I will note that the letter from the Registrar of the High Court replying to Mr. Delves’ letters is dated April 1, 2019. However, it was only delivered to our lawyers on April 3, 2019. Why the delay, especially as this was such as urgent matter?” Friday said.