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.