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Asking judge to give reasons for ruling is within the law – Delves

Asking judge to give reasons for ruling is within the law – Delves
Left to Right: Chief Justice Janice Pereira , Justice Stanley John & Laywer Joseph Delves

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It is completely appropriate, and within the law, for a judge to be asked to give reasons for coming to a decision.

This is the assertion of Joseph Delves, counsel for the respondents in the election petitions, who spoke to SEARCHLIGHT last Friday.

He therefore said the Chief Justice of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (ESCS) will be the person to decide whether Justice Stanley John will be reappointed to explain his rejection of two substantial issues raised in the election petitions.

Delves indicated that, with the delivery of his third letter to the registrar of the High Court, Andrea Young; this matter is now in the hands of Chief Justice Dame Janice Pereira.

The counsel’s most recent letter to the registrar highlights two case authorities, and notes that it is because of the “learning” in these cases that the respondents have approached the trial judge for his reasons in rejecting two issues, reasons which were seemingly entirely omitted from the judgment.

The two cases, Bowen v the Attorney General and Thomas v Douglas outline that where, for some reason, the judge fails to give reasons for his decision, the appellant is obliged to request these reasons, and present them to the Court of Appeal for consideration.

The appellants in this case are the petitioners, Lauron Baptiste and Benjamin Exeter, who publicly announced their decision to appeal at a press conference of the New Democratic Party (NDP) last week. However, notwithstanding that the obligation to seek the reasons falls with the appellants, the respondents have requested them, being aware of the two aforementioned cases.

This reasoning given in the third letter expands on Delves’ request in his first letter to the registrar, sent on March 22.

Delves first letter was sent a day after Justice Stanley John’s temporary appointment by the ECSC expired on March 21.

Delves disclosed that after the judge read a summary of his judgment on March 21, the respondent lawyers received the full judgment some time later that day.

“As soon as we saw certain issues, we drew it to the court’s attention, but of course by then his appointment had expired, but we still have a duty to make contact with the court, based on the law set out by the Court of Appeal, to make contact with the court, and invite the judge to give his reasons,” he explained.

“Now if it is that his appointment is ended, that’s a matter administratively that the court, which is headed by the Chief Justice can remedy, by reappointing a judge, or reappointing that judge to give his reasons,” he continued.

Delves writes in the third letter, which is a reply to the registrar, that he does not believe the registrar to be saying that the judge deemed the request inappropriate, or that the judge was unwilling to give his reasons. The only problem expressed was that his appointment had already expired, the counsel concluded.

Therefore, the solution put forward by the respondents was John’s reappointment, and Delves asked for the registrar to bring the matter to the attention of the Chief Justice as a matter of urgency.

“It is for the Chief Justice to determine how she wishes to proceed, give the circumstances, she would be aware of the principles of law that deals with what happens when a judge doesn’t give reasons for a particular decision,” Delves stated. “Those decisions are out of our hands,” he added.

In total Delves has sent three letters to the registrar dated March 22 and 27, and April 4, copied to instructing counsel for the petitioners, Maia Eustace.

The contents of all the letters have been published in the media, and the contents of one read at the press conference of the NDP, last Thursday.

It has been reported in some sections of the media that Delves has asked the judge to change the ruling.

The lawyer says that this a misapprehension. “I did not ask the judge to change his ruling in any way, you can’t ask a judge to change his ruling,” he said, while stating that it is completely appropriate, and within the law to ask the judge for his reasons.

The substantial issues, said to have been omitted from the judgment are related to the North Windward petition. They are the claims that there were 39 more counterfoils than ballots at a polling station in North Windward, and that there was no recount of the ballots on the day after the election, a claim advanced by witness Cheryl Sutherland and denied by Returning Officer, respondent Winston Gaymes.

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