CCJ can still hear urgent cases despite two-month break

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The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) has announced that while it will be going on a two-month break, it will still be accepting urgent cases.

This leaves open the possibility of an appeal at the regional court after Guyana’s Court of Appeal rules in the upcoming elections case, Misenga Jones vs GECOM. Jones, an APNU/AFC supporter, is seeking to block GECOM from declaring the winner of the elections based on the recount results.

In a statement, the CCJ explained that though it will be on a two-month break, its e-filling system remains accessible.

“Please be advised that term three for the CCJ closes on July 31, 2020. Until the following term resumes on October 5, 2020, our e-filing system remains open and any matter considered urgent by the court will be heard,” the CCJ said.

Attorney-at-Law Sanjeev Datadin had also explained, in a social media post, that the court can still hear cases despite its hiatus. According to Datadin, who represents the United Republican Party (URP) in Jones v GECOM, the announcement of its vacation is no cause for alarm.

It is understood that if the Appeal Court decision on Thursday goes either way, the ruling is expected to be challenged in the CCJ – Guyana’s Apex Court.

In her ruling on July 20, Chief Justice (ag) Roxane George had thrown out the Jones application, ruling that recount Order 60 of 2020 is valid and must be used as the basis to declare the results of the 2020 General and regional elections. In fact, she referred to Jones’ application and the contentions of Attorney General Basil Williams as “hopelessly flawed.”

The judge ruled that Jones and Williams misinterpreted what the CCJ had ruled in a previous case brought by another APNU/AFC supporter, Eslyn David. In fact, Justice George said that if one is to read the ruling, the CCJ plainly endorsed, rather than invalidated, the recount.

The Chief Justice also made it clear that Chief Elections Officer Lowenfield is no lone ranger, but must take his direction from GECOM Chair, retired Justice Claudette Singh.

While Justice George emphasised the importance of lawyers not rehashing old cases repeatedly, Misenga Jones’ lawyer, Senior Counsel Roysdale Forde, had indicated plans to appeal the ruling. It is this appeal that Court of Appeal Judges Dawn Gregory, Rishi Persaud and Priya Sewnarine-Beharry will issue rulings for on Thursday.