GUYANA: CJ throws out election petition case over failure to serve Granger on time

– orders GECOM to hand over SOPs in 2nd matter

Chief Justice (Ag) Roxane George-Wiltshire.

 Jan 19, 2021 – Kaieteur News – Failure to comply with a fundamental principle in legal procedure has led to one of the election petition cases being thrown out of the High Court. Chief Justice (Ag) Roxane George-Wiltshire, yesterday dismissed election petition (99/P) for procedural non-compliance of service on leader of the A Partnership for National Unity +Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) party and former President, David Granger.

The Chief Justice (CJ) nonetheless agreed to continue hearing the other election’s petition case (88/P) which was filed on behalf of Claudette Thorne and Heston Bostwick to challenge the legitimacy of the elections report which allowed for Dr. Irfaan Ali to be sworn in as President.   

In this case, the CJ ordered the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) to hand over its Statements of Poll and Statements of Recount to the High Court for safe-keeping pending the hearing and determination of the election petition case scheduled to continue in April 7, 2021.

The orders were issued at the request of Senior Counsel, Douglas Mendes, the lawyer of the People’s Progressive Party Civics’ leader, Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo, and Attorney-at-Law Kashir Khan who is representing The Change Guyana party.

Mendes had requested an order be made that the Chief Election Officer produces all of the election documents and put them into the custody of the Registrar of the Court for possible inspection by the Court at a later date.

The CJ granted the request to allow for safe keeping of the documents. She noted the Statements of Recounts (SORs) will also be retrieved and kept in the possession of the Registrar.

Meanwhile, in her ruling to dismiss petition 99/P, Chief Justice George-Wiltshire, said that non-adherence of service in a specific timeline would make the petition a non-starter. She noted that because Granger was not served within the required five-day timeline, and he has been found to be a necessary party in the proceedings, the petition was declared a nullity and dismissed.

“From the time it was served out of time on the necessary party, it was a non-starter,” Justice George-Wiltshire said, adding that the rules of filing an elections petition must be strictly complied with.

Elections Petition (99/P) filed by Monica Thomas and Brenan Nurse who sought to challenge the outcome of the March 2, 2020 Regional and General Elections.

In dismissing that case, the CJ rejected supplementary affidavits filed by the petitioners which sought to explain that Granger made a mistake when he signed September 25, insisting that he had signed on September 18.

Alluding to their explanations, the CJ in her decision described the arguments as no less than “preposterous” and “absurd.” She therefore noted that Court had no other choice than to discard the matter.

At the last hearing, Senior Counsel John Jeremie, one of the lead attorneys arguing in the election’s petition case, had asked the High Court to ignore the purported late service of documents on Granger.

Jeremie, who represented applicants in both petitions (88/P) and (99/P), was at the time responding to claims contained in a preliminary application by Attorney General, Anil Nandlall, to strike out the election’s petitions based on the faulty service.

In his submissions before the Court, Jeremie said that the issue of late or defective service upon which Nandlall based his application to strike out the petition should be interpreted as nothing more than a careless blunder on the part of the petitioners.

However, Senior Counsel Douglas Mendes, lawyer for PPP/C Leader, argued strongly that the evidence in the date of service to Granger and the date of Granger’s acknowledgement was contradictory and unreliable. The evidence, which included a signed document by Granger himself, acknowledging receipt, shows that the documents were not served within the legally prescribed period.

The petitioner is arguing that the document was prepared on September 15 but all the other documents including one which Granger himself signed shows that it was served on September 25,” the lawyer had pointed out.

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  • brandli62  On 01/20/2021 at 3:36 am

    This is story incredible and hugely embarrassing. I cannot believe that the lawyers representing the Coalition messed up in such a dilettant manner in filling the election petitions. They had ample time do get their act together and failed at the most simplest hurdle, the filing an elections petition according to the rules and time lines given by the law. How embarrassing can this be! Granger must be steaming and mad, but he also bares responsibility for not properly overseeing the process.

    It is presently unclear to me with of the two election petitions had more weight and chances of succeeding? If the two are at the core redundant, then the damages of through one election petition out on the basis of violation of procedures is annoying but not fatal.

    • Brother Man  On 01/23/2021 at 6:14 pm

      “Granger must be steaming and mad, but he also bares responsibility …” writes Brandli.

      “bares responsibility”?

      For an educated chap, you should know that that is a poor choice of words. It should be ‘bears responsibility’.

      I normally don’t point it out, but when it comes from someone who claims to be a professor, I make an exception.

      Brother Man

      • brandli62  On 01/24/2021 at 2:42 am

        Many thanks for pointing out the typo, Brother Man! I have made grammatical errors in my commentaries in the past, so true! Nobody is perfect, even university professors make mistakes and rely on bright students to point them out. There is always room for improvement! By the way, English is my mother’s language, but I was raised largely raised in Switzerland speaking Swiss German.Hence, please correct or forgive me an English grammar mistake, as long as the argument is still clearly understood.

  • the only  On 01/20/2021 at 1:13 pm

    It is very sad that so many people who dont live here in Guyana are still trying to RUIN it. There should be a law against this.

    • brandli62  On 01/21/2021 at 7:19 am

      @the only: Why are you saying this? The coalition as been exercising their constitutional rights to contest the outcome of the general elections. This was done without any outside interference. Your comment does not make any sense. If I am wrong, please specify based on facts not fiction.

      • the only  On 01/21/2021 at 2:49 pm

        This was done without any outside interference. then who is paying for this, just asking.

      • brandli62  On 01/21/2021 at 3:02 pm

        Full disclosure, it’s not me! I guess they work pro bono for the Coalition. There are sufficient lawyers in politics. Some are good, many are bad and not worth the money. 🙂

    • Dennis Albert  On 01/23/2021 at 3:21 pm

      Yea I agree!
      Alison Redford was accused of corruption in Canada and she went all the way to offshore to cook a deal with the multi-nationals to rob us.

  • the only  On 01/25/2021 at 5:45 pm

    APNU/AFC claimed the election was free and fair, so why are they going to the courts now.

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