Three Judges will hear arguments in the case filed by the legal team of APNU+AFC candidate Ulita Moore against the nationwide recount of votes cast at the March 2, 2020 Regional and General Elections.
During a brief case management hearing at the Appeal Court in Kingston, Georgetown yesterday, Appeal Court Judges, Justices Dawn Gregory-Barnes and Rishi Persaud, along with High Court Judge, Justice Brassington Reynolds, gave a schedule for which the lawyers will lay over their submissions and present their oral arguments.
Given the urgency of the matter, the Court set a timetable to hear oral arguments from attorneys starting from 10:00h today. Legal submissions have been made to the court via email.
Today, attorneys will each be given at least half an hour to present their submissions orally.
Based on the schedule, Moore’s legal team comprising Grenadian Queens Counsel Dr Francis Alexis, Dr Keith Scotland, Attorneys-at-law Mayo Robertson and Roysdale Forde is expected to lead off the arguments while team of lawyers for Leader of the Opposition People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Bharrat Jagdeo, led by Trinidad- based Senior Counsel, Douglas Mendes and PPP/C Executive Anil Nandlall will follow suit.
Moore‘s lawyers had appealed the Full Court’s decision to discard the case on the point of jurisdiction.
Moore is appealing the decision on the grounds that among other issues, the Full Court erred in law, and in fact, by finding that the court did not have jurisdiction to hear and consider the Fixed Date Application, and that the Full Court also failed to construe the legislative regime governing disputes in relation to elections and failed to consider properly, the relief sought by the application.
In a unanimous ruling on Tuesday, the Full Court, comprising Chief Justice (Ag) Roxanne George and Justice Nareshwar Harnanan, ruled that High Court Judge Franklyn Holder does not have the jurisdiction to hear the application filed by Moore for an injunction to block the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) from moving forward with plans to have a nationwide recount.
The two judges overturned a decision by Justice Holder to hear the case on grounds of the submission by Mendes who cited Section 140 of the Representation of the People Act which bars the Court from enquiring into the decision and operations of the Guyana Elections Commission.
Section 140 of the Representation of the People Act reads: “(1) Except to the extent that jurisdiction in that behalf has been conferred, and the exercise thereof is required, by the Constitution or any law made under article 3 thereof (which provides for the determination by the Supreme Court of Judicature of questions as to membership of the National Assembly and elections thereto) and save as hereinbefore provided to the contrary, no question whether any function of the Elections Commission or of any of its members has been performed validly or at all shall be enquired into in any court.”
The section further states: “(2) No evidence of any deliberations of the Elections Commission or communications between members of the Commission regarding its business shall be admissible in any court.”
Additionally, the Court upheld the argument that Moore is not totally denied legal recourse. However, her questions should be raised in an elections petition. “It is not a case for judicial review,” Mendes had argued.
Moore had, inter alia, asked the court to inquire into the constitutionality of a decision made by GECOM to have a high-level CARICOM team supervise a national recount of the votes cast in the March 2 elections.
In addition to ruling that the High Court does not have jurisdiction to hear the case, on Monday the Full Court also denied Moore’s attorneys’ application for a stay of their decision and leave to file an appeal on grounds of an unlikely probability of success at the level of the Court Of Appeal.
Moore‘s legal team nonetheless had noted that they reserved the right to appeal and would take the legal course of redress.
Speaking to reporters outside the Appeal Court yesterday, Attorney Forde, who is on record for Moore, stated that despite the absence of a stay, parties involved in the proceeding should be mindful of their actions, since the process of litigation is not yet complete.
“There are legal proceedings right now….so I hope the Chairman of GECOM will honour her commitment to await the procedure of the Court,” Forde said.
Attorney Nandlall on the other hand stressed, nonetheless, that with no stay of the decision of the Full Court, there is nothing preventing the Guyana Elections Commission from moving ahead with the recount.
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