Jul 24, 2020 Editorial
In his March 15, 2019 decision in the case of Olumide v Alberta (Human Rights Commission), Canadian Justice D.R.G. Thomas wrote of his perception of the behaviour applicant, Ade Olumide:
“Querulous litigants see their dispute as an expression of high principles. Their belief in the correctness of their cause is absolute. Querulous litigants do not seek redress, but instead vengeance, public humiliation, and punishment against those that oppose them. Worse, anyone who disagrees with them or opposes their objectives is attacked. They are an enemy, corrupt, and a part of a greater conspiracy.”
Olumide, acting on his own behalf before the Queen’s Bench of the Province of Alberta, at the time was no stranger to the court system, with a history of bringing failed case after case to courts across Canada. If Thomas’ description of an individual, self-represented litigant in an elections-related case in a legal jurisdiction thousands of miles away sounds familiar to Guyanese, it is because we are faced with roughly the same situation here.
Tomorrow at 10AM is what will hopefully be the final hearing in the third multi-case course of litigation brought in as many months by the APNU+AFC, the appeal of Misenga Jones. Jones is seeking to overturn the Chief Justice’s throwing out the application of her bid to essentially force GECOM to declare the election not on the valid, certified recount figures, showing a PPP victory, but the March 13 regional declarations including the farcically corrupt Region Four declaration prepared by Clairmont Mingo. Of course, Jones herself is merely a factotum of and mask for the actual querulous litigant in this litigation. As APNU+AFC campaign co-manager and David Granger’s de facto spokesperson said in an initial statement immediately after the decision was handed down on Tuesday:
“It is disappointing that in its ruling today, in the case of Misenga Jones v GECOM et al the Court has side stepped the issue of fraudulent ballots in the tabulated votes at the Recount. We will continue to insist that Fraudulent Recount Votes cannot determine the will of the Guyanese People. Only valid votes can produce such a result. Our lawyers will engage at the next level of the Court System to ensure that Our Constitution is respected and adhered to by all.”
Of course, before the judgment was fully delivered, APNU+AFC candidate, Roysdale Forde, appearing on Jones’ behalf in association with other Coalition litigation perennial Mayo Robertson, indicated that an appeal would be filed, which was officially done on Wednesday. That appeal consisted basically of the repeat contestation that the Chief Justice erred on various points of her decision.
It was however not enough that Harmon clearly expressed that Robertson and Forde were – to the surprise of absolutely no one – acting not on the behest of ordinary private citizen, Jones, but on behalf of the Granger coalition. During the case management hearing for the appeal, Attorney General Basil Williams himself launched into what was clearly an ill-planned bid to file a cross-appeal, meaning an application in support of the appeal.
From a legal perspective, unless the learned AG were to bring some genius additional value to the appellant’s application, there would be no value in filing the cross appeal. As our coverage in today’s edition shows, no value was in fact added – Mr. Williams’ cross application was for all intents and purposes a mirror of the original.
“Querulous litigants are relentless,” wrote Justice Thomas, “Their litigation cascade only stops when the querulous litigant is exhausted, or too damaged to continue. By then they usually have alienated everyone around them.”
After countless millions spent in litigation and lobbying, the Granger administration has finally reached the end of a legal cul de sac, even as the international calls for him to end the circus and concede continue to grow. Jones’ appeal is less (and far less) a reasoned attempt at rebuttal to the Chief Justice’s finely wrought jurisprudence than a querulous litigant’s absurd insistence that they still believe that they are in the right and the court is in the wrong.
If it is in any way redolent of David Granger’s insistence that he has “always abided by the Constitution” – even, for example, in the wake of the CCJ’s finding that he acted unconstitutionally in the appointment of James Patterson as GECOM Chair – that is because it springs forth from the same self-righteous font, his belief that the correctness of his cause is absolute.
This belief, at least, when it comes to the courts, has reached its final exhaustion. There are no more cases to file, no more legal loopholes to desperately squeeze through. As the Chief Justice concluded in her judgment in ‘Jones’:
“There must be finality to judicial decisions. Myriad persons cannot be permitted to engage the court with multiple applications regarding the same issue which has been decided, and shield behind the claim that they were not a party to the previous proceedings. To so permit would be to waste precious judicial time and resources… The reliefs sought are all based on issues that have been litigated previously and determined by Courts that take precedence over this High Court. Apart from res judicata, under the common law system, applying the principle of stare decisis, I am bound to follow the decisions of the CA and ultimately the apex court, the CCJ.”
In plain language, the Coalition’s insidious practice of changing litigants – Moore, David, Jones – to disguise that it is in fact the source of querulous and repetitive litigation, had been recognized by the Chief Justice for what it was, and a stop was put to it.
Currently, Guyana has its case against Venezuela’s claims on our territory before the International Court of Justice, for what we expect to be a final and binding decision respected by all international actors. The same principle of res judicata that the Coalition continues to ignore, even when it has been explicitly expressed in a legal judgment, is exactly what our legal representation at the ICJ is going to be arguing in the final settlement of the prolonged territorial dispute.
The Coalition – with the Jones appeal – has shot the last arrow of querulous litigation from its quiver of temporization against the inevitable. David Granger has said that he will respect the decision of the Court on electoral matters. It is time he starts actively demonstrating that respect.
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