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Over 50 grounds for appeal in NDP election petitions case

Over 50 grounds for appeal in NDP election petitions case


New Democratic Party (NDP) candidates in the 2015 general elections, Benjamin Exeter and Lauron Baptiste, have filed appeals in the election petitions.

After the decision dismissing the petitions was handed down by Justice Stanley John, a former court of appeal judge, the petitioners had 42 days within which to appeal the Justice’s ruling.

Therefore, from the date of March 21, when the Justice ruled that the Unity Labour Party(ULP) candidates, Sir Louis Straker and Montgomery Daniel had been validly returned, the petitioners had until last Friday to submit their appeal.

SEARCHLIGHT understands that both petitions have been appealed, and that the appeal related to the North Windward petition was filed on April 23. For the Central Leeward petition, the appeal was filed on April 30.

The grounds of appeal for the Central Leeward constituency amount to approximately 27 main grounds with a further 15 sub-grounds, and there are over 28 main grounds of appeal for North Windward.
One of the many grounds listed for appeal in the North Windward petition reads that the “learned judge” “fell into error by neglecting or omitting to provide any reasons for failing to consider the cogent and compelling evidence of Cheryl Sutherland and the controverted discredited evidence of Ville Davis, the first respondent, relative to the absence of a final count.”

Cheryl Sutherland was the key witness for the North Windward petitions; she was coopted from the streets to witness the final count in the constituency. Among other claims, she had given evidence during the trial, that she observed that there was no final count in North Windward.

Two other grounds refer to the Judge erring in fact and in law in failing to “treat with” complaints that there was no recounting of the votes, and that there were 39 more counterfoils than the number of ballots.

It is thought that the appeal should take no more than three months to process, and that it would be heard sometime near the end of the year.

The petitions were filed in December of 2015, and they alleged serious irregularities in the conduct of the elections.

This will be the second appeal that the petitioners have filed related to this matter, as they had appealed after the petitions were struck out by Justice Brian Cottle in 2016. This appeal was successful, and, in 2017, the Court of Appeal restarted the court process by their ruling.

After a series of events, including a motion for inspections of ballots boxes being heard and dismissed, the trial being delayed more than once, and Justice Esco Henry (the judge appointed after the first appeal) recusing herself, the trial finally began this February 11. Evidence was taken until February 19. Written submissions and oral submissions were completed by March 7.

Appeals in election petitions matters can only go as far as the Court of Appeal, and cannot pass into the hands of the Privy Council.

The Respondents are, ULP candidates Straker and Daniel, returning officers in the 2015 general elections, Vil Davis and Winston Gaymes, Presiding Officers, Kathleen Jeffers and Veronica John, the Supervisor of Elections Sylvia Findlay-Scrubb, and the Attorney General.