Opposition Candidate, Attorney-at-law and former Attorney General, Anil Nandlall has taken umbrage to comments made by Grenadian Queen Counsel, Dr Francis Alexis, in which he predicted failure for the appeal being mounted by the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) in the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) in the matter involving the Esyln David v the Chief Elections Officer (CEO) et al,.
In the article, which appeared in today’s edition of the State-owned Guyana Chronicle, Dr Alexis was quoted as saying that the PPP/C’s appeal is “doomed”.
“[N]ot only was the Court of Appeal right in ruling that Guyana’s President ought to be elected based on valid votes in accordance with the Constitution and Electoral Laws of the country, but there can be no challenge to that decision, even at the level of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ). To do so, would be to overrule the constitutional provisions provided for in Articles 177 (4) AND 162 (1) (b) of the Constitution. On that basis, he said the application filed by the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) for special leave to appeal the decision of the Court of Appeal should not be granted,” the publication reported.
But Nandlall is of the opinion that Dr Alexis’ comments may result in a flurry of accusations that may be predicated on assumptions that he is trying to prejudice the outcome of the proceedings.
Further, Nandlall noted that Dr Alexis holds the position of Deputy Chairman of the Regional Judicial and Legal Services Commission (RJ&LSC). The Chairman of this body is ex officio the President of the CCJ, Justice Adrian Saunders. The stated mission of the RJ&LSC is to appoint judges of that court.
Nandlall noted, too, that Dr Alexis appeared in the Guyana Court of Appeal for the Applicant, in the case of Eslyn David v Chief Elections Officer and others.
He said that it is common knowledge that this matter is pending, on appeal, to the CCJ. Its hearing is scheduled to take place on Wednesday, July 1.
Nandlall posited that lawyers who sit on bodies that appoint Judges should not appear before those Judges.
“A logical corollary of this principle is that they should not make any public statement, adopt any posture or commit any acts which may be viewed as influencing, or intending to influence, litigation pending before Judges whom they have appointed or has a responsibility to appoint. This convention is grounded deeply in the doctrine of natural justice and forms part of that network of principles that protects and ensures judicial independence and fundamental justice. Dr Alexis in my respectful view, has egregiously violated these principles,” Nandlall said in his column, “Unruly Horse”.
“Not only has he made a public statement but has expressed his legal opinion on how the case should be decided, exposing himself to the obvious accusation that he is attempting to prejudice the outcome of the proceedings. An ordinary citizen who violates the sub judice doctrine is likely to be hauled before the courts for contempt. Dr. Alexis is not an ordinary citizen, in this regard. He has done much worse. The truth is he should never have appeared in the proceedings, in the Court of Appeal of Guyana, knowing of the likelihood of it journeying to the CCJ. His entire involvement in this case is highly reprehensible and must be condemned,” Nandlall noted.
Notably, the Chairperson of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Barbadian Prime Minister, Mia Mottley had said that the figures from the recount must be used to declare a winner of the March Elections. She also spoke of gamesmanship being employed by politician in Guyana, and that the situation does not reflect the true spirit of the Region. Her comments were deemed prejudicial as well.
Nandlall said that “apologists” for APNU/AFC will rush to cite the public remarks made by Mottley but opined that “there is simply no basis for comparison”, when Dr Alexis’ comments are brought into view.
“Ms. Mottley made absolutely no reference to the legal proceedings, but simply spoke on matters that are in the public domain which she has a right to do, in any free society. If Dr. Alexis wishes to remain a respectable jurist, he must withdraw his remarks with an appropriately worded statement admitting this gross misadventure,” Nandlall concluded.