Although Chief Justice Roxane George did not conduct a trial in the Contempt of Court case brought against Region 4’s Returning Officer, Clairmont Mingo, GECOM’s Chairperson, retired Judge Claudette Singh and Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield, this morning she held that evidence produced in the matter was “very, very deficient.”
Justice George, also granted an application to have the case withdrawn which was made by lawyer, Anil Nandlall, who conceded with her that the evidence was indeed weak, and did not meet the evidentiar threshold to substantiate Contempt of Court proceedings.
The Contempt of Court application against Mingo and others was filed on March 12, 2020 by Nandlall on behalf of his late driver Reaz Hollader, who later died on March 28, 2020. Yesterday, June 11, 2020, Nandlall filed an application with the Registrar of the Supreme Court to have the Contempt proceedings withdrawn.
Via a Facebook post today, Nandlall explained why he applied for, and was granted a withdrawal of the case. He is saying that the Contempt of Court application was drawn up in the most exigent of circumstances, and now that the Recount Exercise has concluded, it has produced volumes of evidence of Mingo’s ‘Contemptuous Conduct.
Below is his full statement:
Late in the afternoon, of March 12, 2020, the Contempt of Court application against Clairmont Mingo and GECOM was filed. It was drawn up and filed in the most exigent circumstances, that is, the very afternoon that Mingo began to violate the Chief Justice Orders which were granted on March 11, 2020.
The Contempt matter was fixed for hearing before the Chief Justice on March 13, 2020 at 10:30am. It is at this hearing that the Chief Justice went to great lengths in explaining to the Respondents, including Mr. Clairmont Mingo, the various ways by which her Orders can be obeyed by the use of the Statements of Poll.
For example, he can either hold it up or he can project it on a screen, but whatever method he uses, it is the Statements of Poll which must be the basis of the tabulation and the other participants in the process must be allowed a fair opportunity of observing the process and see the Statements of Poll.
It is also at that hearing that the Chairperson of GECOM gave her first undertaking to do a recount of the ballots which she reiterated the following day at Diamond/Grove Magistrate’s Court.
No comment was made at that hearing about the application being deficient. In fact, the matter was adjourned for Mingo to continue the tabulation exercise in compliance with the Court’s kind and expansive exhortations.
I pause here to say that at this early stage, the very Contempt proceedings were able to achieve a great national public interest. Subsequently that day, after the Court adjourned, Mingo proceeded to commit even more egregious violations of the Court Orders and exhortations, culminating in declaring fraudulent results that very night. Obviously, this evidence was not available at the time when the Contempt proceedings were filed.
Subsequently, the National Recount exercise commenced and was concluded on June 9, 2020. This exercise produced volumes of evidence establishing Mingo’s contemptuous conduct. Again,most naturally, this evidence was not available at the time when the Contempt proceedings were filed.
My applications for leave to file Supplementary Affidavits to put before the Court this new volume of evidence which was not available prior, were not favourably considered by the Court.
It is in those circumstances, that on June 10, 2020, I filed a Notice of Withdrawal of the Contempt proceedings. On that date, I also wrote a letter to the Registrar of the Honourable Chief Justice in which I explained the reasons for this course of action.
Below is the Notice of Withdrawal of Contempt Application sent to the Registrar: