Judge in petitions case recuses herself because of administrative error
Justice Esco Henry has recused herself from hearing the 2015 general elections petitions trial.
Henry’s recusal took place this morning and is apparently due to an error on the part of the High Court office.
Earlier this year, the hearing of the election petitions was set for December 3 to December 7 at the High Court.
And last Friday, those dates were vacated, after the Respondents filed a Notice of Motion for the dates to be vacated given that lead counsel, Grahame Bollers, is ill. February 11, 2019 was the new date set for the beginning of the trial.
However, this morning, it was revealed that the Court office had apparently scheduled other matters to be heard by Henry between December 3 and December 7, without the knowledge of the judge.
The respondents and petitioners were called to a sitting of the court this morning where Henry informed them that other matters had been scheduled to conflict with the dates of the petitions.
Both sides were also asked to make submissions on the matter, to which counsel for the respondents, Carlos James and counsel for the petitioners, Kay Bacchus-Baptiste expressed confidence in the court and their belief that it was an error on the part of the High Court staff.
After hearing submissions from both sides, the judge decided that it was in the interest of all parties that she recuse herself from hearing the matter.
And a legal expert told SEARCHLIGHT that the judge may have thought it best to recuse herself, lest it be thought that she knew all along that those days would become vacant.
The court is to issue an order in the matter, but a new judge will have to be appointed.
This new judge will be the third judge to hear the 2015 general elections petitions trial.
SEARCHLIGHT reached out to one of the attorneys for the third respondents, Carlos James, who declined to comment in detail on the matter, save to say that they respected the decision of the learned judge.
Further comment was sought from one of the counsel on the side of the petitioners, attorney Kay Bacchus-Baptiste. Bacchus-Baptiste noted: “First of all, we are very disappointed that the situation arose which will cause her (Justice Henry) to have to take such a drastic step. It is clearly not her fault…I accept that she said she did not realize that all these fixtures were made, and it is very disturbing that 12 fixtures, not one or two or three, but 12 fixtures were made for her, to be heard by her, in during the period when the petitions should have been tried.”