Norton challenges judges in appeal hearing

Stabroek News
May 3, 1998

General Secretary of the People's National Congress (PNC) Aubrey Norton is challenging two of the judges of the three-member Appellate Court which will hear the appeal against Chief Justice Desiree Bernard's dismissal of the orders nisi of certiorari and prohibition she had issued on December 19, last year, against the Chancellor of the Judiciary, President Janet Jagan and the Chairman of the Elections Commission.

Norton, through Senior Counsel Rex McKay and Miles Fitzpatrick, is contending that Justices of Appeal Lennox Perry and Prem Persaud, have long passed the constitutional age of retirement and were permitted by the President (an interested party) to continue in office and their sitting on the appeal contravenes article 144 of the Constitution.

He is seeking a declaration that the decision of the Chancellor to choose them, who are and have been and will be dependent on the permission of the President, to sit on the appeal, contravenes his fundamental right to a fair hearing by an independent and impartial court.

In the grounds, Norton stated that he had sought to prohibit the Chancellor from swearing in Mrs Janet Jagan as President of Guyana, on the basis that the declaration made by the Chairman of the Elections Commission declaring Mrs Jagan as President was null and void.

On December 19, last year, the Chancellor secretly administered the oath of office to Mrs Jagan and on January 12, after hearing arguments in relation to the motion that had been filed by Norton, Chief Justice Bernard discharged the orders nisi of certiorari and prohibition.

Two days later, Norton appealed that decision and the appeal has been fixed for hearing on May 4, 5, 6, 7 and 11. Norton is also contending that since the Chancellor is an interested party in the cause, it was not competent for him to select the judges to hear the appeal.

He has applied for a declaration to this effect, among others. Norton also stated in the grounds for his challenge, that Justice Persaud was the trial judge in the case of Cedric Grant versus the State and he gave a judgment in favour of the State and drew certain conclusions in favour of the State notwithstanding that there was no evidence to support same.