Contempt of Court proceedings against Mingo withdrawn

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Region Four Returning Officer Clairmont Mingo and Chief Elections Officer Keith Lowenfield [File photo]
Attorney-at-Law Anil Nandlall today withdrew the contempt of court proceedings he had filed against embattled Returning Officer Clairmont Mingo.

Nandlall had filed the case back in March, on behalf of private citizen Reaz Holladar, claiming that Mingo had breached the relevant electoral laws as it relates to the tabulation of votes for Region Four – Guyana’s largest voting district, and that he was in flagrant violation of the Court’s March 11 order by refusing to ascertain the votes recorded in favour of the lists of candidates in accordance with the Statement of Polls (SOPs).

In addition to Mingo, GECOM Chair Justice Claudette Singh and Chief Elections Officer Keith Lowenfield were also named parties in the matter.

Following a hearing on Tuesday, acting Chief Justice Roxane George was expected to deliver her ruling via a virtual hearing.

But when the matter was requested to be withdrawn, the judge said it was “most unacceptable” that at this late stage in the proceedings, such an application was being made.

Nandlall told the court this morning that it is in the best interest for the administration of justice that they get an opportunity to put before the court “very relevant and probative evidence” which was not available at the time of the filing of the case, that is, information emanating from the recently concluded national recount.

Attorney Anil Nandlall

But the Chief Justice pointed out that she had previously raised the issue with Nandlall on whether the case reached the threshold of contempt proceedings, and even enquired whether he was still proceeding with the matter to which he responded in the affirmative.

“I should I have I would await the outcome of the recount… I concede all of that,” Nandlall told the court.

However, Justice George argued that the Court cannot consider counsel’s strategy, pointing out that he was considering none legal issues. She noted that the applicant was aware that the evidence was every “deficient” from the beginning and yet they went ahead to waste the court’s time.

The Chief Justice was also conflicted on the issue of cost, considering the applicant Reaz Holladar is now deceased. Holladar died on March 28.

The Chief Justice was considering levying the cost against Nandlall but following the intervention of his associate, Devindra Kissoon, the Judge reconsidered. Kissoon had argued that the cost could be instead levied against a substitute applicant.

Nandlall had initially made an application for Kamini Bhiro to be substituted in the matter but later withdrew the application.

Nevertheless, after intense arguments, the Chief Justice eventually granted the substitute application and appointed Bhiro as the administratrix of Holladar’s estate so that the cost could be paid.

The cost was set at the total sum of $450,000 – $150,000 each for Mingo, Lowenfield and Justice Singh.