Electoral fraud cases: Lowenfield, Myers were on fishing expedition, “cast their net too wide” – High Court

…CJ dismisses constitutional challenge

Chief Justice Roxane George, SC, on Friday dismissed a challenge filed by former Chief Elections Officer Keith Lowenfield and his then Deputy CEO Roxane Myers regarding the electoral fraud cases filed against them in a magistrate’s court over the 2020 General and Regional Elections.
Lowenfield and Myers, along with others, are charged with 28 criminal charges of attempting to commit fraud at the 2020 General and Regional Elections. These criminal charges are pending at the Georgetown magistrate’s Court.

Former Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield

The former Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) officials had claimed in their challenge that Section 140 (2) of the Representation of the People Act breached their right to a fair trial, as guaranteed by Article 144, and their right to equality before the law, as guaranteed by Article 149 (D) of the Constitution.
Section 140 (2) of ROPA states that: “No evidence of any deliberations of the Elections Commission or communications between members of the Commission regarding its business shall be admissible in any court.”
During the magistrate’s court proceedings, lawyers for Lowenfield and Myers had requested minutes from GECOM’s meeting, which was hindered by Section 140 (2). Hence, the lawyers had argued that this section of ROPA is breaching their client’s constitutional rights.

Former Deputy CEO Roxane Myers

Lowenfield and Myers claimed that they needed the deliberations or communications of the GECOM as part of the facilities for the preparation of their defence in the criminal proceedings. As a result, they made an application for the criminal cases to be adjourned while they filed the constitutional challenge in the High Court. Amid public criticisms, presiding Magistrate Leron Daly adjourned the criminal proceedings to await the decision of the High Court.
In the High Court challenge, the Attorney General (AG) and the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) were named in the constitutional action. On April 23, the Chief Justice ordered written submissions from all the parties, including GECOM, which had made a successful application to join the proceedings.
Justice George ruled on the matter on Friday.
In dismissing the case, the High Court agreed with the submissions of the AG, the DPP and GECOM.
A statement from the AG Chambers said the Court found that Lowenfield and Myers were on a fishing expedition and “cast their net too wide.” It added that the Court found no evidence that Lowenfield and Myers’ constitutional rights were likely to be infringed.
“The Court also found that the public interest in ensuring that GECOM’s deliberations remain confidential overrides whatever constitutional rights Lowenfield and Myers enjoy. Finally, the Court ruled that there was no ground established that shows that Section 140 (2) of the Representation of the People Act breached any provisions of the Constitution,” the missive from the AG Chambers detailed.
During the High Court proceedings, Attorney General Anil Nandlall, SC, appeared in person along with Assistant Solicitor General Shoshanna Lall; Senior Legal Adviser Loretta Noel, and State Counsel Pierre Squires. The Applicants were represented by Attorneys Nigel Hughes and Iyanna Butts, while the DPP was represented by Darshan Ramdhani, KC, and GECOM was represented by Attorney Kurt DaSilva.
The High Court ruling now paves the way for the presiding magistrate to proceed with the criminal charges.
In addition to Lowenfield and Myers, the other defendants in the election fraud cases are former Region Four Returning Officer Clairmont Mingo, former People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) Chairperson Volda Lawrence; PNCR activist Carol Smith-Joseph, and GECOM employees Sheffern February, Enrique Livan, Denise Babb-Cummings, and Michelle Miller.
They are accused of several offences, including misconduct while holding public office, presenting falsified documentation, and planning to manipulate Guyana’s voters by presenting an inaccurate vote total.
These charges stem from attempts to rig the 2020 General and Regional Elections in favour of the then ruling A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) coalition. These accused persons are all out on cash bail.
Shortly after GECOM had announced the election results on August 2, 2020, charges were brought against the individuals in question. In August 2021, GECOM voted to terminate the employment of Lowenfield, Myers, and Mingo.
Last year, the prosecution had asked the Chancellor of the Judiciary (ag), Justice Yonette Cummings-Edwards, to assign a special court to hear the cases in order to expedite them. Concerns regarding the unsatisfactory progress in these cases have been voiced by a number of persons, including the Attorney General.