Should the Court of Appeal today turn down the decision of the Chief Justice (CJ) that the no-confidence vote (NCV) on December 21, 2018 was constitutionally valid, then the elected APNU+AFC regime remains legal until elections are due in 2020. The PPP will no doubt go to the Caribbean Court of Justice.
If the court upholds the CJ’s decision but positively responds to a request for the doctrine of necessity then the status quo remains. The political leadership of the government (APNU+AFC) is in mountainous trouble if the appeal is rejected and no stay is granted.
What it means is that both lower and higher courts have ruled that the NCV is constitutionally binding and there must be elections before March 21 (which passed yesterday).
What the APNU+AFC leadership will do is anyone’s guess if it loses but win or lose today, the decision either way will not dissolve the controversy that has canopied the GECOM chairman, Justice James Patterson since the ERC released its report on the employment practice of GECOM.
Before we analyze the situation with Patterson, some notes about why the framers of the constitution put preference on a judge for the post of GECOM chairmanship.
It no doubt has to do with an understanding of man-made laws, constitutional laws and natural law. The feeling is that judges are more familiar with what the laws entail and what constitute proper legal procedures and how and why natural law is relevant to the dispensation of justice.
The concept of justice no doubt was the clincher for the framers of the constitution who wanted the GECOM chairman to be either a sitting judge or a former judge. They believe judges are more familiar with the complexities and depths of the meaning of justice and how justice must be dispensed.
In my Thursday column, relying on the section of the ERC’s findings on the employment practice of GECOM with regards to what was attributed to Patterson, I concluded that Patterson was not fit and proper to be GECOM’s chairman. I have since read that section and I am accepting what it said about Patterson unless I read where Patterson is rejecting what was published on him.
For those not familiar with the ERC report and who didn’t peruse my Thursday column, a brief recap is necessary. Here are the words of Patterson when he appeared in front of the investigating team of the ERC speaking about the application of Vishu Persaud for Deputy Chief Election Officer, “What I saw was the written evidence; he said he had Y and he didn’t… one candidate (Persaud) seems shifty, the other candidate wasn’t.” Patterson went on to tell the researchers; “I found him (Persaud) shifty on the paper trail.”
The researchers requested Patterson to provide the written evidence from which he arrived at his conclusion about Persaud. He didn’t provide it and according to the ERC, it did disregard his testimony. Here are the words of the ERC on the attitude of Patterson; “Failure to produce the documents on which he based his conclusions that Persaud was unsatisfactory has grossly discredited his (Patterson’s) findings of Persaud’s shiftiness, unreliability, dishonesty.”
Think of the adverb “grossly” the ERC used to describe how untenable was the submission of Patterson who did not supply the evidence. But what is disturbing is that Patterson painted Persaud as dishonest because the ERC attributed that word to Patterson and the ERC found no evidence of the negatives Paterson attributed to Persaud.
James Patterson is a former judge who must be deeply familiar with the rights conferred on humans through natural law (adumbrated more than 2000 years ago by the Roman philosopher Cicero). Persaud was entitled to a fair hearing by Patterson who had to carefully assess who said what about Persaud and also interview Persaud himself.
But Patterson told the ERC he never saw Persaud. Patterson was the reason why Persaud was not accepted as Deputy Chief Elections Officer. In a tie vote of 3 versus 3, Patterson sunk Persaud’s prospect by voting against him.
Now the onus is on Patterson to explain to this nation what and where is the documentary evidence on which he based his characterization of Persaud as dishonest and lying.
James Patterson holds one of the most precious and important constitution offices in the land. He should be subjected to the highest standards because of the nature of his job. If his conduct can be proven to be egregious then this nation must demand his resignation.
I am not asking for that as yet. He should be given an opportunity to respond to the ERC’s report. He should do it ASAP.
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