The New Democratic Party’s legal team in the election petitions case is “befuddled” by the decision of acting High Court judge Justice Stanley John to amend his ruling three months later, and even after an appeal has been filed.
A source close to the legal team, who asked not to be named, said there is “no legal basis” for the move by Justice John, as he is no longer a judge sitting in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
The source said even the Registrar of the High Court had alluded to this when a lawyer for the government wrote to her asking that Justice John give supplemental reasons for his decision.
Last Thursday, June 13, Justice John responded to a request by a lawyer for the government on March 22, one day after his appointment as a judge in SVG ended, that he provide reasons for ruling in favour of the government on two points in the North Windward election petition case.
Joseph Delves, the lawyer for the government, had made the request in three letters to the Registrar of the High Court since March 22, and suggested to the registrar that the chief justice reappoint Justice John to provide the reasons.
Justice John, a retired Trinidadian jurist, was appointed specifically to hear the election petition cases in SVG, part of the jurisdiction of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (ECSC).
He was later appointed to act as a High Court judge, from May 2 to July 31, 2019 under assignment to Antigua and Barbuda, another ECSC circuit.
But the source, who is also a legal expert, noted that Justice John referred to two cases — Verbin Bowen et al v The Attorney General et al and Peter Thomas v Desireen Douglas et al — as the basis on which he could give the supplemental reasons for his ruling.
The petitions case was not one where only an oral judgement was given, the source noted, adding that Justice John gave “a considered full-page judgement”.
“He is a highly experienced judge; he was in the court of appeal in Trinidad… How then could he forget or why would he need to give supplemental reasons?”
The source pointed out that the judge had also given an oral synopsis of his judgement and never alluded to needing to supplement his written decision, which was handed down the same day.
The source also noted that the request for supplemental reasons had come from the respondents, who won, and not from the appellants.
The NDP has appealed Justice John’s ruling in the North Windward petition, as well as his judgement on the challenge to the Central Leeward results, which were heard in a consolidated trial in March.
The source noted that Justice John gave his supplemental reasons beyond the time limit for appeal and after the appeals were filed and the grounds of appeal disclosed.
“How could that sit right for the administration of justice? The petitioners have filed their appeal; they have served it on the respondents; they know what the grounds are; it is public once it is filed and then a judge will give supplemental reasons after the petitioners have filed and disclosed their reasons for appeal? It’s very, very disturbing for the administration of justice.”
The source noted that even after supplementing his judgement, the judge remains silent on the issue of the missing election documents in North Windward.
Electoral officials have not presented to the court any Form 16 — a document on which vital polling data, such as number of ballots received and the preliminary result at each polling station are recorded.
Ville Davis, the returning officer for North Windward, said he lost all the form 16s for North Windward.
This admission raised questions about what figures the final count — which the petition is alleging did not take place — was verifying.
The source said:
“It’s perplexing because even though [Justice John] gave a supplemental judgement, he is completely silent on the missing Form 16s.
“So what? He is going to have to give another one (supplemental judgment) again?”
The source further noted that the judge is silent on the claim by the returning officer that that the final count ended at 8:30 p.m. on Dec. 10, 2015 — or some 90 minutes after the prime minister was sworn in.
The judge remains silent, event as he rejected the claim by Cheryl Sutherland, a witness for the petitioner, who said that the count lasted until 2 p.m.
In his supplemental ruling, Justice John noted that Sutherland testified that the process of opening each box, checking the contents and noting the count allegedly written on the envelope took ten minutes each.
This meant the entire process took 2 hours and 20 minutes in all, which left a further 2 hours and 10 minutes unaccounted for, as she said the process continued until 2 p.m.
The source said:
“So if he is accepting what Cheryl said, that it went until 2 o’clock, and, therefore, there was a final full count. What is he saying about Ville Davis who said that the counting went until 8:30. I find it very perplexing.”
The NDP filed the petitions challenging the results in North Windward and Central Leeward in the December 2015 general elections.
Those constituencies were among eight that electoral officials say the Unity Labour Party won, thereby maintaining its one-seat majority in the 15-member Parliament and a fourth consecutive term in office.
Lauron “Sharer” Baptiste and Benjamin Exeter each filed petitions challenging the announced victory of the ULP’s Montgomery Daniel and Sir Louis Straker in North Windward and Central Leeward.
Until the NDP learn strategy, they will forever be BEFUDDLED!
Vincy Lawyer. A bigger problem is that the entire ULP is “befuddled” but they never admit it and that is why the entire country is such a mess. Then we have people commenting on this site that never refuse the opportunity to criticize the NDP and worship the ULP in spite occasional criticisms. Interesting how governments can fool thier own people to cheer-on the destruction of thier own country and its systems!
Regardless of whom you support in party politics in SVG my Vincy Lawyer, I am quite sure, that you are fully aware of that legal Maxim that goes something like this; “Justice delayed is justice denied”:
Therefore, in the circumstance and taking into account the profound importance and legitimacy of true democratic government here in SVG, may one ask you, how can it be right, that the Vincentian people through the opposition in parliament, are having to wait this length of time for a proper resolution of these seriously vexed matters?
James H. I think Vincy Lawyer will give you a “hogwash” answer because he/she is obviously a BIG ULP supporter. Many of these ULP trolls on this site have the purpose to look neutral but influence the reader to support the ULP. There are not many that cannot see through this. Both parties have great ideas and have bad ideas.
The ULP should be careful or the Garifuna will come and take thier homes while they are building a tunnel under Cane Garden to the new Kingstown to be built so that the real Kingstown does not have to be renovated, cleaned and further brought to an efficient up-to-date condition. I am waiting for the current government to announce they want to build a space program and put a man on Venus before the end of the next election cycle.
Jamal, The ULP certainly could put a man on P….I mean Venus. Have you not heard that our Prime Minister is appointed by God? Maybe you can read that in his latest book or possibly at least the book he wrote about himself.
It is comical how Vincy Lawyer and a few others can attack everything the NDP says but they let all of the much greater quantity of nonsense go that comes from the ULP.
These are the same lawyers who may one day be appointed to the CCJ. If the people have to select them then you know they can never make it.
I too George would say, that Ralph Gonsalves was indeed appointed by God and hope that this does not surprise you. Yes I would most definitely agree with that proposition that Ralph Gonsalves was appointed by God, just as Judas was appointed by God in the case of Christ’s death.
We read at Acts 2:22-24 New King James Version (NKJV) 22 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know—
23 Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; 24 whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it”. Indeed God had determined it! For sure, there are no accidents in this life. We as individuals are however nevertheless commanded to do only good in this life and not the bad to the hurt of others which is against God’s moral Laws!
Indeed God has forsure appointed us Ralph Gonsalves, just as he had given the Christ, the man Judas, and look where we are told Judas went for his crimes against the Christ! God is sure in charge of all events and of all men too, but the deeds of men are most surely not unaccountable.
Just take a note of Matthew 10:29-30 New King James Version (NKJV) to see that God’s will is indeed paramount in all events. 29 “Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. 30 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered”.
And Ephesians 1:11 New King James Version (NKJV) this text reminds us that nothing in this world is by chance but is surely of the will of God “……being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will,”
Yes George, all men for sure will have to answer to God for their crimes against other men, just as that Nazi, Adolf Hitler will have to so do or that Egyptian Pharaoh, as is mentioned at Romans 9:17. Above all just read Romans 9: 1-24 New King James Version, and be thoroughly startled!
The declaration of “I did it my way” or “I had no choice” could never be put up in one’s defence! The only measurement is that of “The Moral Law of God” otherwise known as the 10 Commandments, to be summed up in Love God and one’s neighbour as one’s self!
God thus puts his own position quite clearly in this at Romans 9: 11-13. A position that should cause all men to tremble at their possible deeds.
Read: 11 (for the children not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls), 12 it was said to her, “The older shall serve the younger.” 13 As it is written, “Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated.” And at Romans 9: 14-23.
Would that all men do question their sorry deeds in the light of these realities and sobering truths! We are given to understand, that Judas for his part, eventually came to a most sad and sticky end!
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