Lawyer Jomo Thomas says the decision by the legal team for the trade unions to not cross examine witnesses in the vaccine mandate lawsuit is intended to ensure that the trial goes ahead next week, as scheduled.
Today (Friday), Thomas’ team informed the court that they will not cross examine any of the witnesses for the respondents (government) in the matter.
The decision came one week after he told a Teachers’ Union rally that his team was looking forward to grilling Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Simone Keizer-Beache.
“…when we last went to court, we had expressed an interest in cross examining a number of persons,” Thomas told iWitness News, on Friday, adding that his team had told the court that the cross examination might have lasted for about 90 minutes.
“And there was a particular interest we had in cross examining the CMO,” he said, adding that the respondents, however, filed an application opposing cross examination.
“And once they filed the application, we were concerned that if we opposed the application and we won, that they would have appealed. And if they were to appeal, it would throw off the trial date,” Thomas said.
“If you notice, all along, we were talking about protecting the trial date. So, we didn’t want that to happen at all,” Thomas told iWitness News.
The lawyer said that cross examining witnesses would have been part of the “trial tactics”.
He told iWitness News that whether or not witnesses are cross examined “does not, fundamentally, affect our case as it relates to the law.
“We are convinced that our clients had a right to be heard, that the declaration of the medical emergency did not comply with the constitutional requirements as it relates to Section 17, that the compunction that people had to take the vaccine under pain of losing their jobs and their pension and so on were not in keeping with various sections of the Constitution,” Thomas said.
The St. Vincent and the Grenadines Teachers’ Union, the Public Service Union and the Police Welfare Association have brought a joint legal challenge against the government over the COVID-19 vaccine mandate, which saw hundreds of public sector workers losing their jobs for failing to take a COVID-19 jab last December.
Thomas said that the legal arguments his team intends to make still stand.
“And clearly, when Justice Henry ruled that she can proceed with the case without allowing for intervention of expert medical evidence, then it meant that the evidence, which, for example, the CMO would present, is evidence like any other witness could give — because Simone Keizer-Beache is not going in as an expert,” Thomas said, adding that he does not know that the CMO is a virologist.
“The evidence that she would give is an opinion that may be augmented by what other people say.”
The lawyer said he is not sure how Justice Henry would proceed with the matter.
“I think what is going to happen, since there is not going to be any formal cross examination –they have not expressed any interest in cross examining our people — what it might take is that Justice Henry would have lawyers from both sides present based on the legal submissions that we did. And so we would present, they would respond, and then we would have a right of response. And then she asks us to do more substantive legal submissions.”
Thomas said that if this is the case and there is no cross examination, the trial might not take the two days that the court has allocated to it.
The lawyer was asked to comment on the hype that might have been generated by his comments last Friday about grilling the CMO.
“I don’t think people understand trial tactics,” Thomas said. “Because part of the trial tactic was to put them on notice that we were prepared to vigorously cross examine her based on some things that she said in her affidavit, because it was a very extensive affidavit,” he said.
“But the point is that our case is hinged on law. It is not hinged on the cross examination of Keizer-Beache. Part of that was to get our people to understand that we have an unassailable case. And we intend to show that.”
Thomas said that in the final analysis, Justice Henry will rule on the matter,
“… but we are absolutely convinced that on the law, our case is formidable.”