Cayman Islands Chief Justice Anthony Smellie announced Monday 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 2.30pm in courtroom 5 for the verdict in the hotly debated case, originally heard in courtroom 1 between 17 and 19 July.
Chief Justice Smellie’s verdict will determine constitutional and Election Law challenges to the nomination and election of Ms Rivers, elected as one of four legislators to represent the district of West Bay during the 22 May national polls, and later appointed by Premier Alden McLaughlin as a Cabinet minister responsible 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 period 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.
Upon the 19 July adjournment, the chief justice did not indicate when he would deliver his judgment, considered a matter of public interest and likely to spark fierce debate.