Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court Justice, Eddie Ventose will hear the case to strike out the election petitions from which High Court Judge Bernie Stephenson recused herself.
Senior Counsel for the applicants, Anthony Astaphan says the announcement came in a case management meeting held Thursday,
“All of the lawyers representing all of the parties including the petitioners and respondents were told,” he said.
The matter at hand is a request to have petitions challenging the 2019 election results in 10 constituencies own by the DLP struck out.
The petitions were filed by the Opposition, UWP.
High Court Judge Bernie Stephenson was to hear the case but Hon Opposition Leader, Lennox Linton called for her recusal alleging bias.
The Hon Prime Minister, leader of the DLP and Senior Counsel Astaphan spoke strongly against the accusations which they feel bring the justice and the judiciary into disrepute.
The Dominica Bar Association had issued a statement that the public should show respect for the judiciary.
Chief Justice of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, Dame Janice Perreira assigns judges in the entire jurisdiction.
Senior Counsel Astaphan says Justice Ventose was assigned to hear the case “…not because of any participation or influence-peddling -as is being suggested- by the Opposition, myself…anybody else or the Attorney-General’s letter for that matter. It is a direct result of the vicious violent, hostile smear campaign if not electronic lynching that has been and is still being executed against Justice Stephenson by the Opposition Leader and his forces at Q95 and social media.”
The Court has been brought into disrepute and scandalised by the UWP Leader, according to Counsel Astaphan who also rejected any inference that Judge Ventose could be partial to either party.
“I am now hearing… that the Opposition are not happy with the Judge and that he worked in the Attorney General’s Chambers two years ago. I am not aware of any factual situation or allegation that rises to the level for anyone to be able make an application or to suggest that a judge should recuse himself,” Astaphan says.
“I am not aware that the Judge was ever part of the permanent establishment of Government; I am not aware that the Judge had any relationship with the Cabinet in any manner or form,” he continued. “I am not aware that he has given any legal or other advice on election matters or election petitions or that he has been in any form of relationship with anybody in this country while and as subsequent to his assignment…where he has been sitting for the last year or so or more in St Kitts and Nevis.”
He however said that, “My understanding is that the last time any sort of advice could possibly have been given was in May 2017. We have had May 2018, May 2019 and May 2020; three years since the last time he would have had the opportunity to advise anybody in this country.
“I am not at all convinced that what I have heard whether through voice notes, audio clips… would constitute grounds for a Judge to even consider recusing himself.
“I think this is just another case of the United Workers Party finding every possible excuse not to have these applications heard. Finally, the suggestion that I am somehow involved in the backroom or in the back doors in this matter is absolutely, completely and totally false,” he effused.
Hon. Justice Eddy Ventose, who will hear the application, took his oath on September 3rd, 2018 as a judge of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court.
His lordship was previously professor of law at the Faculty of Law, Cave Hill Barbados and has been assigned to St. Kitts and Nevis.
The matter will be heard virtually on July 7th.