Bankruptcy hearings against West Bay’s John Gordon Hewitt and wife Velma Powery-Hewitt were adjourned this week for the fifth time and rescheduled for Oct. 3.
The ongoing case, brought by Minister for Gender Affairs, Education and Employment Tara Rivers, seeks reimbursement for nearly $140,000 in court costs and another nearly $77,000 in additional costs – for a total of $215,666 – mandated by the courts.
The sum stems from a June 2013 Grand Court writ, challenging the election of Ms. Rivers in the May 22 national polls that year, in which Ms. Powery-Hewitt – a former civil servant – finished fifth in the four-seat West Bay constituency.
Mr. Hewitt disputed the eligibility of Ms. Rivers to stand in the election, claiming she had violated constitutional requirements mandating seven years continuous residency in the Cayman Islands, and that ownership of a U.S. passport compromised her national loyalty.
A three-day July trial before Chief Justice Anthony Smellie found against Mr. Hewitt, clearing any legal obstacles to Ms. Rivers assumption of a seat in the Legislative Assembly and her appointment as Minister by Premier Alden McLaughlin.
Announcing his verdict on Aug. 8, 2013, Chief Justice Smellie declared the constitutional challenge had been brought in the public interest, but made no determination regarding Ms. Rivers’ $138,666.79 defense costs.
On March 15, 2015, Chief Justice Smelllie declared Mr. Hewitt liable for the sum. Finally, on Jan. 29, 2016, when the sum remained unpaid, Ms. Rivers petitioned the court to enforce the March decision or declare the West Bay couple bankrupt.
On April 14, Grand Court Justice Ingrid Mangatal convened an initial hearing, which was continued until June 2.
On June 2, Justice Mangatal again continued the hearing until July 21.
In July, a further continuance extended the case until Sept. 12, and then again until Sept. 26.
On Monday morning, the court again delayed a verdict until Oct. 3.
Expressing frustration, Ms. Powery-Hewitt declined to comment, observing only that “the wheels of justice grind very slowly.”