From the Courts
May 13, 2016
Election Petitions trial set for May 27

May 27, 2016, has been set as the trial date to hear the election petitions filed by the New Democratic Party (NDP).{{more}}

Lawyer for the petitioners, Queens Counsel Stanley ‘Stalky’ John made it clear indications that he wants the matter sent to the Court of Appeal, where he believes it would inevitably arrive.

John explained that because of the views expressed by Justice Brian Cottle in his judgement, the judge is unlikely to change his point of view on the issues if they are heard in open court, as distinct from when they were heard previously in chambers.

“That being the case, we will certainly appeal to the Court of Appeal… we have a right of appeal… his decision is not binding… if he were to hear them again and rule in a similar way we would be appealing. If he rules otherwise the other side would be appealing, so we may as well go to the Court of Appeal immediately, because they are very variable issues – it goes to the court of appeal and the court of appeal agrees with him, that’s the end of the matter; the court of appeal doesn’t agree with him, we come down and we go ahead with the trial.”

The QC said that Cottle wishes to have the preliminary issues addressed expeditiously, as he has previously expressed.

Counsel for the respondents Senior Counsel Anthony Astaphan, however, agreed with Cottle’s ruling stating it was the right thing to do in light of his earlier ruling.

“I think it’s just unfortunate that it has taken so long because of resistance to get to this very sensible position” Astaphan added.

He also noted that he would be making the same submission. “Hopefully I’ll make them a little better,” he said.

The Dominican lawyer further stated that there is a deliberate refusal to accept the fact that there were three sets of international and regional observers for the 2015 general elections.

“They said the election was free and fair and it is a profound lack of understanding of the nature of the election law, which requires there to be strict compliance with condition precedent before you can get to a trial, and all we are doing is following the law. There’s no trickery here, there’s no voodoo economics there’s no obeah or magic, we’re really sticking to the facts and to the law.”

Astaphan added that they are entitled to do that as other election officers throughout the Caribbean have done. (AS)