Wednesday, 03 November 2010 06:55
By RAWLSTON POMPEY
There is little doubt that most of man’s troubles were brought to bear on him and his fellow men through arrogance, recklessness, inconsideration, irrationality, erratic behaviour, and egregious acts.
Frequently, these instigated and/or unprovoked behaviours or acts defy logic, wisdom, and common sense. While this commentary may appear evocative, no such defiance of logic or emotive response was intended. This commentary merely attempts to reflect an understanding of judicial thinking specifically on some matters determined in the recently delivered Appellate Election Petitions Judgment.FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION
SHOCK AND AWE
The phrase “…Shock and Awe” was used descriptively in relation to that Judgment but only to the extent of the impact made on the Petitioners and Appellants and the nation’s and people’s psyche. Analyses were considered best left to the analysts or those possessing the requisite competencies and/or expertise on electoral matters and conduct of elections.
Therefore, it focuses on particular aspects of the judgment through the coined phrase “…Shock and Awe.” as it seeks to sensitize through particular highlights of “…factuality of events examined. It looks, in part, at the …adjudicators' dicta; …moods and attitudes; …reasonable expectations and …emotive responses of parties to, or interested in the proceedings. It also looks at behaviours affecting human relations; …national unity, cooperation and …mutual respect for the tenets and principles of democracy, independence and sovereignty.
DR ISAAC NEWTON’S
DR NEWTON’S analytical and well-reasoned commentary may be read in earnest, particularly as it affects an Appellate Court’s “…Interpretative functions and Applicability of Law to the Facts in, or Relevant to Facts in Issue.” There may be great significance to the posited view on the “…Public Right of Criticism.” This is a right which, when exercised inappropriately and with incensed language or provocative rhetoric, had often produced conflict, hostility, discord, and apathy.
This is all part of the democratic and Constitutional rights and freedom of expression, be it criticism of negativity, but preferably constructively. There is a thin line between “…freedom; …recklessness and …lawlessness.” Thus, freedom to express one’s view, may not be exercised, in the case of the Courts, “…contemptuously,” while in the wider society; insensitively; …recklessly; …libelously or …defamatory,” without visitation of the JUDICIARY and attendant consequences.
For ease of reference, and without imputing improper judicial behaviour, he wrote with prudence, “…Recall that some may think that the public has a right to argue; …Yet they pour scorn on the people’s capacity to judge the Judges.” Though seemingly provocatively emotive, yet enlightening and inspiringly absorbing, such commentary makes for very interesting reading to the erudite individual.THE JUDGMENT
On Wednesday, October 27, 2010, after months of “…anxiety and suspense; …media hype, frenzy, dramatization and sensationalism, the Eastern Caribbean Appeals Court, finally closed an important judicial chapter with the delivery of a landmark Election Petition Judgement. Ironically, the long anticipated judgement that seemingly had the entire nation on edge was finally delivered from Court’s St. Lucia-based Headquarters.
Unaware against whom the judgment may have been delivered, prayer vigils, assemblies, contingencies for celebrations of the historic Judgment and/or possible by-elections were well in advanced stages of preparation. The latter, however, failed to materialize when the Appellate Court reversed the three judicially-challenged Election Petitions, prompting mixed reactions across the nation and the region.HOPEFUL DOUBTFUL CITIZENS
The Petitioners and Appellants as well as celebrants caught in a “…catch twenty-twenty situation,” had hoped for the best, equally as much as they expected the worst. However, when the judgment was finally delivered, it brought not only “…hope of the best and …expectation of the worst,” but also the devastating “…Shock and Awe” to hopeful and optimistic and doubtful and pessimistic citizens. Though the suspense-filled and distressful wait was over, the demoralizing shock, anxiety, uncertainty and uneasiness, unhappily lingering on.COMPOSITION OF COURT
Except for the keenly inquisitive, most citizens seemed unaware of the composition of the Appellate Court, but appeared pre-occupied only with thoughts of the final determination of an electoral/judicial matter that had enveloped their attention for nineteen grueling months. This may purely be of academic interest by lay persons, it may however, be of interest for many to know that along with CHIEF JUSTICE HUGH RAWLINS, the three-member Appellate judges comprises for the very first time on the Appellate Court, two eminent learned female jurists.
The female-dominated judicial institution included the professionally astute, meticulously observant and venerable …Justice OLA MAE EDWARDS, a former Magistrate within this jurisdiction and the reportedly incisive, reputable and impeccable …Justice JANICE GEORGE-CREQUE. With unanimity the distinguished justices, concurring with their appellate judgement, determined that the trial Judge in the lower Court had erred in her deliberations and determination.BLENMAN’S JUDGMENT
There was no doubt as to the critically sensitive and complex nature of the contending issues argued in the Petitions. Thus, in its examination of JUSTICE LOUISE ESTHER BLENMAN’S “…petitioned challenged Judgment”, the Appeals Court was evidently not in complete concurrence with her “…logicality; …reasonability and …rationality,” hence, the landmark judgment in the Appeals Court REVERSION of her judgment.CHIEF JUSTICE’S SENTIMENTS
What may be considered as most significant, were the observatory sentiments of the CHIEF JUSTICE. These are reflected in the Court’s Judgment. Contrary to comments attributed to aggrieved parties, both at the Petition and Appellate stages, the CHIEF JUSTICE seemingly in earnest wrote, “…The circumstances which gave rise to these cases, were not in the creation of any of the parties who prosecuted these appeals and counter-appeals; …In my view, neither the High Court proceedings nor the pursue of appeals came out of …vexatious CONDUCT;…unfounded ALLEGATIONS or …unfounded OBJECTIONS on the part of any of the parties.” [HCVAP: 2010/016:para.222: p99].DISAGREEMENT DISSATISFACTION
Considering that the judicial sentiments may have been designed to lessen possible evocation of apathy and dissatisfaction, the very opposite had happened. Thus, there were expressions of rebuff, evidenced by chagrin and consternation by those who anticipated favourable rulings that eventually went against them. First to respond to the judgment, was a seemingly distraught and incensed LESTER BRYANT BIRD, Leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition in the House of Representatives.
Marked by his spontaneous reactions, even if the Court’s costs were favourable awarded and such remarks were conveyed through an Angel melodiously singing from the summit of MOUNT OBAMA, it was clear that he was neither amused nor impressed.SENTIMENTALITY
There was no question as to the Court’s noble and respectful intention in expressing those sentiments. The Leader of the Opposition made no reference to the admonishment of…SLINGER FRANCISCO, ‘Mighty Sparrow.’ Nonetheless, suffice it to say that in one of his social commentaries, he cautioned that people ought not to “…be fooled by sentimentality.” However, those viewing sentiments positively, posited that lest uttered with incongruity, meaninglessly or hypocritically, sentiments may only be artfully expressed at the right psychological moment and in circumstances conducive to unreserved acceptance.ACROSS THE BRIDGE
Sentiments, however, are sometimes effective on people believing they “…live in fool’s paradise” and that “…across the bridge, there will be no sorrow and (further) across, there will be pain.”This according to the late JIM REEVES may only happen to those who have cleansed their worldly lives of sin and were trying to get into heaven. BIRD’S PELLUCID RESPONSE
Clearly cognizance of contempt of court, in “…carefully considered crafted language,” he adamantly, pellucidly and emphatically retorted that even those at the “…PARK of HEROES” may hear, “…I am deeply disappointed with the decision of the Appeals Court; …the learning and interpretation they have given to this is most unfortunate; “…The way they have emasculated Justice Blenman’s very, very carefully considered opinion, is really not in the interest of Caribbean jurisprudence.”PARK OF HEROES
Such reaction to the Court’s final Judgment signified a shattering blow to consequential materialization of hopes and dreams; …expectations and …aspirations. Thus, the former Prime Minister and Member of Parliament, responded in pellucid and definite language that may have jolted the two revered “…NATIONAL HEROES,” …SIR VERE CORNWALL BIRD AND …SIR GEORGE HERBERT WALTER, knowingly resting in quietude and eternal peace in the “PARK” at TOMLINSON, as his voice reverberated across the nation. Seemingly, he may have also directed his comments to the likely damning impact the “…REVERSED JUDGMENT” may have on JUSTICE BLENMAN’S and the citizen’s perceptions of her “…reliability, adjudicating, professional competencies and sense of judgment.”FINALITY TO THE JUDICIAL PROCESS
That said it has always been difficult to treat a wounded lion without sedation. Equally so, it is extremely difficult to soothe the emotions of humans whose expectations were high and whose hopes, dreams and aspirations have been shattered.
Though the Opposition Leader was not alone in expressing dissent, he had, nonetheless, led the charge, demonstrating that VEXATIOUS CONDUCT or VEXATIOUS PROCEEDINGS or not, the judgment had “…caused more pains to his heart; …disappointment and disillusionment to petitioners; …dejection to electors; …despondency to supporters and …disenchantment to well-wishers.” Everyone now knows that the judgment brought …finality to the judicial process as stipulated by the Elections law.PRIME MINISTER’S RESPONSE
Conversely, Prime Minister DR. BALDWIN SPENCER described the judgment as “...a victory for the people.” Reacting further to the historic judgment, Prime Minister BALDWIN SPENCER, speaking to BBC CARIBBEAN of his horrors and judicial nightmares, admitted that though “…I feel vindicated and …uneasy;” yet I was confident that the Appeals Court would have reversed the decision of Justice Louise Esther Blenman; …The Court had restored democracy and the right and will of the people.”
In response to the Appeals Court ruling, Tourism Minister JOHN MAGINLEY reportedly said “…I am very happy that the Appellate Court Judges found that they could not see it right to void the seats of three candidates who won quite clearly.”ADAMANCE OF QUINN-LEANDRO
While the atmosphere was filled with speculation, anxious citizens of Antigua and Barbuda could have cared less where the judgment was delivered, so long as it was delivered to relieve pent up stress, growing anxieties and uncertainties. These were evident by the response of Education Minister JACQUI QUINN-LEANDRO, who was expressively adamant that JUSTICE BLENMAN’S, rulings were suspect.QUINN-LEANDRO’S PRAYER VIGILS
As if to say that the prayer vigils had provided a way not only to keep the faith, but also to EXHALE, the reversion of the judgment had seemingly allowed for DR. JACQUI QUINN-LEANDRO ‘S suspicions, real or imaginary, to be manifested in the Judgment of the Appellate Court. Thus, responding to the judgment, media reports attributed these remarks to her; “ …Everybody was waiting to exhale and even though we were praying and hoping for a positive outcome, we had a strong view that JUDGE BLENMAN erred in her judgment;…I am very relieved also quite elated that we have won the appeal in this Election Petition case.”INVALIDATION OF ELECTION
In the initial 136-page landmark judgment, JUSTICE LOUISE BLENMAN had “…invalidated the election of Prime Minister Dr. Baldwin Spencer, Tourism Minister and Education Ministers John Maginley and Dr. Jacqui Quinn-Leandro. However, a stay of execution subsequently ordered by JUSTICE DAVID HARRIS, allowed for the status quo of membership to the House of Representatives and the Executive remained in force, up until the delivery of the Appeals Court‘s final Judgement.COMMENDATIONS
In the heat of excitement, many people appeared to have overlooked the difficult and complex nature of these proceedings; …the work undertaken and the …painstaking efforts of the learned JUSTICE BLENMAN. However, upon the APPELLATE COURT’S’s 103-page judgment, summarizing its examinatory findings on JUSTICE BLENMAN’S “original rulings, Chief Justice HUGH RAWLINS, apparently, in an attempt to offer some measure of solace and/or encouragement, tersely wrote “…It would be remiss of me to sign off on this judgment without commending, with appreciation, the work that the trial judge, BLENMAN J, did in these difficult cases.” [Para.230: p 102].PAIN BEFORE HEALING
It has often been said that “…pride comes before a fall,” so is pain before healing. Frequently, a man’s leg, with or without reasons of affliction, is deliberately amputated. Then the amputee is provided with bandages to aid the healing process. Meanwhile, until healing is completed, there is no comfort; hence he must endure what such procedure brings-endless excruciating pains. JUSTICE BLENMAN may not endure such pain as such event is all part of the judicial process and the administration of justice.CRITICS OBSERVATIONS
Although the reversion of JUSTICE BLENMAN’S rulings may have caused distraught; …provoked professional troubles or …aroused spirit-dampened feelings, the Court, acutely careful of the negative impact, yet mindfully recognizing her professionalism, efforts and attendant adjudicating difficulties experienced commended the trial Judge. However, legal professionals, observers and some critics opined most respectfully, that the “demoralizing effect” of the REVERSED JUDGMENT in its entirety, may outweigh the “moral boosting value” of the sentiments and/or commendations so proffered.JUDICIOUS SENTIMENTS
The sentiments regarding institution of the proceedings seemingly epitomized CHIEF JUSTICE HUGH RAWLIN’S professional sagacity, prudence and sensitivity. Accepted with mixed feelings or viewed purely as sentimentality, the judicious sentiments were evidently not enough to bring respite to those, against whom the Court’s final judgment appeared was not favoured.
The sentiments, no doubt, may have been “…truly intended to calm frayed nerves and/or ease the inevitability of disapproval and tension. However, they obviously appeared not to have produced the desired calming effect, nor elicited an understanding that the “…learning and interpretation” applied to JUSTICE BLENMAN’S judgment were reasonable. Instead, they brought “…Shock and Awe” to all a sundry.