Rivers election case decided this week

Cayman Islands Chief Justice Anthony Smellie announced Monday afternoon that he would deliver his judgment in the Tara Rivers election case on Friday.

In an amended notification of the Grand Court’s weekly schedule, the Chief Justice named Friday afternoon at 2:30 in courtroom 5 for the verdict in the hotly debated case, originally heard on July 17, 18 and 19.

Justice Smellie’s verdict will determine constitutional and Election Law challenges to the nomination and election of Tara Rivers, chosen as one of four West Bay MLAs in 22 May general election polls, and later appointed by Premier Alden McLaughlin as Minister for Education, Employment and Gender Affairs.

A 12 June writ in the Grand Court, filed by the husband of the district’s fifth-place finisher, sought to test Ms Rivers’s qualifications to stand for office, claiming she carried a US passport and had not been resident in the Cayman Islands for the constitutionally required seven years prior to her 27 March nomination.

In three days before the Chief Justice, attorneys for petitioner John Gordon Hewitt argued Ms Rivers had been employed as a full-time associate in London for 31 months, starting in 2006, disqualifying her for elections or for any of the residency exemptions stipulated in the constitution.

Defence lawyers argued that, despite her stint in the UK, Ms Rivers remained resident in West Bay, while accumulating student credits, attending lectures, professional courses and a series of training programmes at London’s Allen & Overy law firm.