11th hour Guyana Election Fraud Case Delay “Not Cricket”

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By Albert Baldeo

Further recent procrastinations of the egregious Guyana Election Fraud trial are as shocking as its incorporation of dirty bedsheets and contrived spreadsheets are and continues to be a source of bewilderment and frustration, not least among Guyanese living in the diaspora. It could well be the object of comedy skits, except that this is no laughing or trivial matter. These delays denigrate the heart of our criminal justice system and shake the very foundations of democracy in Guyana, of which you are the guardian. The unprecedented villainous acts, grounded in the evidence, procedures and reports, must be ventilated and brook no forgiveness, or trivialization.

The Magistrate should not have given yet another postponement to accommodate an obvious tactic calculated to delay the case. She should have noted the defense’s request, as she did with the prosecution’s, and moved on with the case. The right to discovery is not an endless, timeless, nor limitless right. Nor should it be allowed to abuse the judicial sanctity of our legal system.

Moreover, when it is argued that section 140 (2) of the Representation of the People Act which provides that, “No evidence of any deliberations of the Elections Commission or communications between members of the Commission regarding its business shall be admissible in any court” somehow clashes with the constitutional right to a fair trial as outlined in article 144 of the Guyana Constitution, it wreaks of desperation, and disingenuity. Indeed, the same article of the Constitution nullifies that argument, “If any person is charged with a criminal offense…the case shall be afforded a fair hearing within a reasonable time by an independent and impartial court established by law.” [144(1)].

Judges in more developed countries do not allow such overbroad challenges and specious arguments to waste judicial resources. They allow the defendants to appeal their decisions, after the trial. Interlocutory disruptions like these are not allowed to stymie the judicial process. Even if the learned Magistrate reasoned that, in her opinion, the question raised by defense counsel is neither “frivolous or vexatious” and is worthy of consideration by the Supreme Court, then it should be raised on appeal after trial. Otherwise, trials will be unduly prolonged.

The “right to defend themselves” should not be expanded to a right to abuse the flow of justice, especially when, as the prosecution argued, the defense should have raised this matter two years ago during the period for disclosures, and had summoned his witnesses, including the 93-year-old, Mr. Kit Nascimento, in accordance with the Court’s schedule to commence the case. Justice is a two-lane highway. VP Bharrat Jagdeo is right when he asserted, “there is a deliberate attempt to stall the case, and frustrate the will of the people.” AG Anil Nandlall, a dedicated and exemplary jurist committed to improving the administration of justice in Guyana, must be rightly indignant with the flagrant, continued non-compliance of his counsel and industrious example to other judicial officers.

This is a trial, where the evidence will determine the outcome, all things being equal. The defense must be stopped from injecting red herrings and gamesmanship into the proceedings. Deal with the putrid substance of the case. Indeed, they must be careful what they wish for. The minutes sought may sink their defense, if any, further.

I must agree with those frustrated voices that no Magistrate should allow him or herself to be constrained by these legal maneuvers clearly designed to thwart the election fraud case from being tried. After three years, the Defense should not be allowed to continue to recycle or manipulate legal methods calculated to frustrate justice in this case, ad nauseam, especially when those arguments should have been raised earlier. With every postponement, the risk of this case being mooted and trivialized by another election cycle looms larger, and the people of Guyana are collectively being deprived of justice. We just cannot continue to conjure mathematical gymnastics out of thin air and accept absurd theories of jurisprudence, and expect the public to have respect for our judiciary.

The Magistrate here, and other Magistrates and Judges, must rise to the occasion, if only to satisfy the international concerns that the rule of law is alive and well in Guyana, and confirm to all that we are deserving of our global ascendancy, and world standing, as a nation proud of its basic institutions-like the delivery of justice. Judicial functionaries are reminded of the words of the famous Judge, Lord Mansfield, who posited, “Let justice be done, though the heavens fall.” Comedy hour has its time and place. This is not its place, nor time!

Sincerely,

Albert Baldeo, District Leader, NY, USA (LITTLE GUYANA), NY, USA and Concerned Guyanese, 106-11 Liberty Avenue, Ozone Park, NY 11417. Former Magistrate, Senior State Prosecutor and Police Legal Advisor in Guyana

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The views expressed in this column are solely those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views or position of the THE WEST INDIAN.