Rivers election challenge in court

Judge allows US affidavit as relevant

The petition challenging Tara Rivers’ election to a West Bay seat in the legislature will proceed as scheduled on 17 July, Justice Alexander Henderson told attorneys for both sides last week. 

The judge held a pre-trial session in open court on Thursday afternoon to rule on issues raised by attorney Steve McField, who represents petitioner John Gordon Hewitt. Mr. Hewitt is the husband of Velma Powery-Hewitt, who received the fifth highest number of votes in the 22 May election for four West Bay seats in the Legislative Assembly. 

Mr. McField asked for and received permission to file an affidavit from a US attorney on the question of US passports and acts showing allegiance to US law. Attorney Paul Keeble, who represents Ms Rivers along with attorney Graham Hampson, pointed out that allegiance is a matter for the Cayman court to determine and that function should not be usurped by any US authority. 

Justice Henderson replied that the view of the USA would be “far from determinative, but I’m not going to say it has no relevance.” He told Mr. McField he could file the affidavit. 

He added that Ms Rivers’ attorneys were also at liberty to produce an affidavit from an expert on US law. One of the grounds of the petition alleges that Ms Rivers holds a US passport and is therefore not qualified to be nominated or elected as a member of the Legislative Assembly “as she is, by virtue of her own act, under an acknowledgment of allegiance, obedience or adherence to a foreign power or state”. 

The petition further alleges that Ms Rivers is not qualified for membership in the Legislative Assembly “by reason of the fact that she was not residing in the Cayman Islands for a period of seven years immediately preceding the date of her nomination on 27 March 2013”.  

The election petition was filed on 12 June and went to court on 18 June, when Justice Henderson set 17-18 July as the dates for trial.  

On 18 June, the judge gave Ms Rivers two weeks to file an affidavit in response to the election petition and in particular to answer specific 
questions asked by Mr. McField. 

The questions, referred to as interrogatories, are in a legal format, but are reworded here for easier reading. 

That Ms Rivers was born in the United States of America? 

That Ms Rivers has never, at any time, prior to her nomination on 27 March 2013 for election to the Legislative Assembly renounced her citizenship of the USA? 

That Ms Rivers is the holder of a US passport? 

That Ms. Rivers did utilise the said US passport as a means of travel?  

That Ms Rivers did utilise the US passport as a means of entering the USA? 

That Ms Rivers is registered to vote in the USA? 

That Ms Rivers resided in the United Kingdom during the period 2 October 2006 to 30 May 2009? 

That Ms Rivers was employed to Allen & Overy, Allen & Overy Service Company Limited of No. 1 Bishops Square, London E1 6AD, UK, from 2 October 2006 to 30 May 2009? 

That Ms Rivers was not a resident in the Cayman Islands for the past seven years prior to 27 March 2013? 

On Thursday, Justice Henderson also agreed that a subpoena be issued for the Chief Immigration Officer to produce Ms Rivers’ arrival and departure records from 
27 March 2006 to 27 March 2013. 

He asked if both sides had considered whether the matter should be tried by a permanent judge of the court or whether it should be assigned to a visiting judge. Both sides were satisfied that a permanent judge could try the case.  

They also agreed to various dates set for exchange of documents.  

McField--Steve

Mr. McField
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5 COMMENTS

  1. Another Constitution and Lack-of-proper-Legislation mess-up! Tara is a US citizen by virtue of birth and the Constitution does not say that she contravenes the law by renewing that US passport! The law is flawed and does not give Caymanians their full right to run for their country’s Legislative seats and still be able to have the democratic right to work and live where-ever they choose prior to seeking the seat, especially in Tara’s case where she upon finishing her studies took up what should be termed as an extension of her education (or internship) by gaining experience with a foreign entity to make her more qualified to come home to Cayman and do as she has done, continue to live work and represent her people. She was smart to do this because most jobs she would be able to apply for with her academic qualifications, would demand that she have work experience, therefore the Courts should look at that period of her absence as an educational process. That ‘400 days’ Constitution requirement is a trap and an abuse of Human Rights and should be completely removed. Human Rights include the freedom to come and go and work wherever one is legally permitted to and the only thing that really should bar any Caymanian from taking up a seat in the Legislative Assembly are criminal records and the giving up of their Caymanian Citizenship and swearing allegiance to another country by virtue of a self-initiated act, which in this case does not apply to Tara. Tara renewing her passport which she has by virtue of birth should not be a bar to her representing her country, as the Constitution rightly says. Nowhere in the Constitution does it say she can’t have dual citizenship by virtue of birth in both countries.

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  2. This is a sad story. I listen to Tara. A good speaker, well educated, and I believe she would have done well in the position elected; however it is entirely for her to set the record straight without causing any undue strain on the Island and those who elected her. Yes we may say The Law is the Law, and sometimes we can bend it a little, shine, polish and rub it down, but breaking it is another story to which we do not want to send the wrong message.

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  3. Can someone help me, as I am confused. How is the Cayman Islands, Tara’s birthplace. Wasn’t she born in the US, which makes her an American Citizen, not a Caymanian by birth but maybe one by Paper (Status)?

    I agree she is an educated woman but how in the world is she a Caymanian???? I am confused..

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  4. This is basically Ms Rivers first taste of what it’s like to be in the Caymanian political arena. If she gets through this attack on her character she will soon see that it’s something that she will need to get used to. Simply said those who are for her will say that she has the right to be in the LA no matter what and those who are against her will say she doesn’t no matter what. It has nothing do with the law the constitution or where she was born. People will interpret the law to suit their own agendas.

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  5. A few days ago an eight year old child told my eight year old that he was not a true caymanian. My son was born in cayman. Father is caymanian and I am an American. He has never lived in the U.S. nor does he even have his U.S. papers. If parents continue to teach their children what is or is not a true caymanian this problem will never go away. Cayman is changing, and thier definition of TRUE CAYMANIAN is slowly becoming the minority. People say the public schools are a mess, children are under educated. If you just pick up a news paper the government is no better. If caymanians want a change, everyone has to fight for that change. You cannot just depend on your MLA or the ministers to fix or not fix something. Parents, teachers, and caymanians need to stand for your rights of children and all citizens. People are going after Tara and the law is the law and bringing this to court. Well I ask why didnt anyone bring this up when she was running. Im sure it is no secret she was born in the U.S. nor her work experience and where she was working. Why wait until she won and given a minister postion to pull this to everyone’s attention. This all looks like a sore loser. When there were people being dropped one by one for this same matter during the election, everyone running should have been investigated to be sure they were eligible to run to avoid this.

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