CHARLESTOWN, Nevis – A new date for the hearing of the petition brought by the Hon. Mark Brantley challenging the results of the July 11, 2011 Nevis Local Government Elections in the St. John’s Constituency will now be heard from January 16 to 26, 2011.
The case, which was originally scheduled to start three days ago at the Nevis Circuit Court, was postponed to Tuesday (Nov. 22) due to illness of the assigned judge, Justice Indra Hariprashad-Charles. She was however replaced by Justice Mario Michel.
Brantley, the Deputy Leader of the Concerned Citizens Movement (CCM) and the party’s candidate for the St. John’s District, lost by 14 votes to the Hon. Hensley Daniel of the Nevis Reformation Party (NRP) and asking the court to declare the results null and void.
Brantley is claiming that a number of irregularities occurred during the elections within his Constituency, and among them is the removal of over 200 previously registered names from the Voters’ List.
According to CCM’s Press Secretary Mervin Hanley, “The CCM is very satisfied with the total success today in the court and the start of this long-awaited trial and thanks the many supporters who came out to support the cause of democracy in our beloved Nevis.
“The CCM asks all Nevisians to continue to support the restoration of democracy stolen from us by the NRP/Labour coalition on July 11, 2011.”
He noted that Justice Michel heard submissions from the respondents’ counsels, led by Anthony Astaphan QC, that they would not cross examine some 11 witnesses for the CCM who reside overseas but were on Nevis to give evidence in the matter.
“The 11, like hundreds of other Nevisians,” he added, “were disenfranchised in violation of the electoral law on July 11, 2011 when they sought to vote for the CCM candidate, Mark Brantley, in the Nevis Island Assembly Elections.
“The evidence of the 11 witnesses was therefore agreed without question by the NRP, and this is a very significant development in the light of the fact that the election was decided by a mere 14 votes.
Hanley stated that the judge took time to consider various applications, and one of them was for the Voters’ List with photos attached, which were used in the polling stations on Election Day, be produced within seven days and copies provided to the petitioner.
He also stated that Justice Michel ordered that Brantley’s application to strike out paragraphs of the affidavit evidence of the respondents would be heard at a date prior to the hearing of the petition.
Additionally, the judge ordered that the application to have the CARICOM Report admitted into evidence must be dealt with on paper and the respondents have 14 days to state their position in writing while the petitioner has seven days to respond.
The Press Secretary stated that both parties agreed that the petition trial would be done over two weeks, starting on January 16, 2012 and ending on January 26, 2012, and would be heard before a judge to be assigned.
Hanley said that apart from Hensley Daniel and Myrna Walwyn, all other respondents were not present at yesterday’s hearing.
“Of significance, is that Joseph parry, Bernadette Lawrence, Leroy Benjamin, Kelvin Daley and Attorney-General Patrice Nisbett, who are all named in the petition, were absent from the court. No explanation for their absence was given to the court.
“This is the second court hearing that has been missed by these respondents. The CCM is left to wonder what these respondents are afraid of. Hensley Daniel alone was present in court while Myrna Walwyn was there as a member of the Electoral Commission.”
Brantley’s legal team is being led by Senior Counsel Douglas Mendes of Trinidad and Tobago, who is supported by Dane Hamilton, QC of Antigua and Barbuda; Keithley Lake of Anguilla; Jean Dyer of Montserrat; and Dahlia Joseph of Grenada.
Hanley disclosed that the team is under the instruction of the law firm of Daniel, Brantley and Associates of Charlestown, Nevis.