AG in awkward position

| 22/07/2013

(CNS): Despite being a co-respondent in the election petition heard in the Grand Court last week, the attorney general has remained largely silent on the question of Tara Rivers’ qualification. The government lawyer has also been quiet regarding the actions of the returning officer in West Bay who accepted the Coalition for Cayman’s candidacy on Nomination Day, whom he is representing. Although the question over the actions of the returning officer only arise if the chief justice finds that Rivers is not qualified, Attorney General Samuel Bulgin’s defence of those actions may prove to be a conflict, since his office is understood to have given the advice on which the Elections Office disqualified Richard Christian, a proposed PNA candidate in Bodden Town.

During the second day of the case Bulgin asked just a few short questions of Professor David Rowe, the expert witness called by the election petitioner, John Hewitt, when he gave evidence on why he believes that Rivers is not qualified and had shown allegiance to the United States by taking out and using an American passport past the age of majority.

Bulgin asked Rowe, who has given evidence in similar cases in Jamaica, if that evidence would have been different if the wording of the Jamaican constitution had included what the AG described as a “carve out” for those born overseas, as is the case with the Cayman Islands Constitution. Rowe was not able to give a definitive answer, however, as he said it would depend on many other issues.

Abraham Dabdoub, the attorney representing Hewitt, whose wife, Velma Powery Hewitt, lost the election, argued that the section referred to as a "carve out" by the AG was not an exception. The expert in election petitions in the region also observed the AG’s failure to make any submissions during the three day hearing.

He said he was disappointed that they would not hear from the attorney general regarding his legal interpretation of the petition.

“It is a bit disappointing to hear that the learned attorney general has declined to make any submissions,” Dabdoub said. “I would invite him to contribute, however, as here is an allegation against a returning officer and this is a major constitutional issue." But it was clear that Dabdoub was well aware of Bulgin’s position, having placed a copy of the letter sent to Christian, which included the AG’s thoughts on the matter, into evidence.

During his closing submissions Dabdoub focused on the wording of Section 61 and that the so called “carve out” merely acknowledged the fact that people will have citizenship from another country because they were born there and, provided they don’t act on their right to dual citizenship, they can run for office.

Bulgin’s description of the section as a “carve out”, however, places him in a difficult position as he had already given written legal advice to the Elections Office regarding the question of Christian and the returning officer’s refusal to accept his nomination on the basis that he had applied for and had used an American passport past the age of majority. Christian, like Rivers, was born in the US to Cayman parents, and so is entitled to dual citizenship.

It is understood that Christian admitted that he had the passport but believed that the same section of the constitution was a carve out for him, hence his openness about the document. But the Bodden Town returning officer disagreed and the formal rejection of Christian's nomination is understood to have been set out in writing by the returning officer, who took advice from the AG.

However, Bulgin, who is a co-respondent on behalf of Delano Solomon, the West Bay returning officer, by his defence of the petition has not accepted any liability that the election official should not have accepted Rivers’ nomination.

It is not clear how Bulgin will defend the returning officer, who the petition alleges was derelict in his duties and did not make sufficient enquiries to establish if Rivers was qualified. It is understood that the officer offered Rivers the voluntary declaration form, which she refused to sign. Further enquiries about her qualification were allegedly made by the Elections Office.

Having already given an opinion of the disqualification of Christian, the attorney general has not been in a position to make any public defence over the qualification of Rivers, but nor did he make any moves before the election to recommend that she also be disqualified.

If the CJ finds against Rivers, who is now the education minister, in his anticipated ruling, then Bulgin may be forced to defend the actions of Solomon. However, if the country’s top judge rules that Rivers was qualified, the AG may be facing even greater legal difficulties with Christian possibly filing suit.

Kent McTaggart, a C4C member who had planned to run in the Bodden Town district, may also consider a suit regarding his own position. McTaggart made a decision to pull out of the political race ahead of Nomination Day based on information he received from the Elections Office about what wassaid to be his failure to meet the residency requirement in the seven years preceding an election – the second ground on which Hewitt brought his petition against Rivers.

Related articles on CNS:

Christian says process unfair

C4C candidate steps aside to avoid controversy

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Category: Politics

About the Author ()

Comments (42)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Anonymous says:

    Someone needs to give an accurate account of the huge cost to this country for security guards to be chasing behind this man!!  I am sure it is now in the hundreds of thousands fo dollars!!! A blasted laughing stock. Add all of that to the astronomical salary he receiveds and the pension benefits he has amassed and the cost to this country is outrageous for someone who is seen as incapable of doing the job.  If he is so afraid for his security he should do us all a favour and step down from the position that he seemingly was not fit for in the first instance.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Sure wouldn't like to bein the AG's shoes. Either way he's had it. I guess he's being philosophical about it all.

  3. Anonymous says:

    A waste of govt $$$$ & needs to go! We got rid of keke now let’s continueto dump the garbage!

    Advocate for good leadership & governance!

  4. Anonymous says:

    Dear God, why was this man ever chosen to fill this position in the first place??

    • Anonymous says:

      Ask Mr. former Premier, i heard he was the one who pushed for him to get the job. We all know he is exactly what Bushy prefers. Pitty we all have to pay the price for it!!

  5. Anonymous says:

    Step back in time and recall when this man was placed in office. Mac and others were gleefully welcoming him to replace Ballantyne apparently without looking at his credentials and making sure that he was capable of filling the position!  Time has shown that he was not. It seems that this country has become a laughing stock with the likes of him in such top positions  It is time for him to go and he should be replaced now.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yea, Ballantyne is probably sitting back somewhere in Europe laughing his head off at this mess!

  6. Porky Pig says:

    Turn off the lights folks, nothing to see here (the official version)…

    This box is missing all its bulbs (the real version)…  Da doo dum dumb dumb da doo dum dumb… Da doo dum dumb dumb da doo dum dumb… Da doo dum dumb dumb da doo dum dumb… 

  7. Anonymous says:

    let us cut our losses and put him on required leave until retirement, must be cheaper than paying out all the unecessart legal costs, etc.?

  8. Anonymous says:

    Let's buy a scarecrow that sits in the corner and makes a few sounds with the right sized battereis. Would be cheaper than having this AG.

  9. Anonymous says:

    9:42 I completely agree with you. He is useless, send him packing back to JA. 

  10. Rorschach says:

    Yep, I would say having your head shoved up your backside IS a pretty awkward position…

  11. Rock Iguana says:

    No one should be surprised to find the Attorney General at the heart of this mess. The Attorney General is the poster boy for everything that is wrong with the civil service – overpaid, over promoted and largely useless (his only real competition in this race is the Financial Secretary).

    The biggest problems facing the country are the cost and massive inefficiency of the civil service. Unfortunately, nothing can or will ever be done to address this for the simple reason that the civil service is the only trade union in the land as well as the largest voting bloc. The politicians will never dare to bite the hand that puts them in office. And on and on it will go.

    • Anonymous says:

      not surprising considering the make upof the civil service…..

      yet we have so many on here that want to kick hardworking expats off the island and replace them with 2,000 people who won't work…

      • Anonymous says:

        Tues, 07/23/2013 – 15:23


        And who makes up the majority of the highly paid civil servants? Check out the contracted employees in government, not all of them fall in the "hard working expats"

  12. Anonymous says:

    Sounds like double standard to me!

  13. Anonymous says:

    What I don't understand, and please correct me if I am wrong, shouldn't all this have been looked into before elections?  Other then the canidate doesn't someone vet through all the qualifications, etc?  Alof of time and expense being done to ascertain if Tara should stay or go if this had all been done prior to the elections?

  14. Anonymous says:

    This is getting more and more interesting by the moment. I am sure that Christian is taking notes.

  15. Anonymous says:

    My mother always told me that is best to be thought of as a fool, than to open my mouth and removing all doubt.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Someone needs to sue this AG's ar*e properly…he's up to his neck in this on-going Operation Tempura scandal, has cost the CI Govt. loads of money in out-of-court settlements, still has the judicial decision on the FOI Commissioner's ruling to release documents in that case to the public to deal with….and now this.

    On the surface, it could appear that the AG is involving himselfin the political arena by favouring one candidate over another in exactly the very same circumstances.

    If Richard Christian was disqualified to run for office and Tara Rivers was allowed to, under the very same rules and the CJ finds that Rivers is unqualified as well…

    Christian has every right to sue the face off Cayman's Attorney General….

    And I hope that he does !

    • Anonymous says:

      I agree, sue the AG directly, not the CIG and then WE have to keep paying fro his mistakes.

      Given the position of AG and this AG's current questioning in so many investigations, shouldn't he be asked to step down? How can fair procedure be followed if he is in the office in which personnel will be obligated to hea dup investigations??

  17. Anonymous says:

    Talk about being between a rock and a hard place!

  18. Anon says:

    Does the AG speak? 

  19. Anonymous says:

    @18:13 Agree 100%!!!


    The position of AG must be on term limits and for all the law suits coming because of his decisions or lack thereof, we should have enough to show lack of performance….where are you Franz Manderson???

  20. Anonymous says:

    Time to  let the AG go. He has failed in his office. It's one disaster after another.

  21. Anonymous says:

    Nothing new from the Phantom AG! Always just seems to rack up damages against the Government he is supposed to protect. SMH! PPM this man needs to be on contract like everyone else who is paid by the Public Purse! I bet if CNS did a poll on how satisfied people were with this mans performance over the last 10 years it would be blatantly obvious to even the dullest minds that there is no confidence in his abilities as AG!


    Last thing we need is an AG under as much scrutiny as the formerPremier.

    • Anonymous says:

      While all of this seems very complex and will doubtless require a great deal of wisdom to resolve, regarding the absence from the Islands' it seems to me that Ms Rivers' situation is distinguished from the others in that her period away while she was employed could be conceived as work experience preparing her for higher service here.  I really would not have a problem with accepting that, given that she maintained her home here and maintained close involvement with local politics and issues.  After all, I do believe that the whole reason for the residency requirement in the Constitution is to ensure that we do not elect people who are out of touch with local life and politics.

      But certainly both issues need to be resolved clearly so that we do not have these questions lingering on.

      The law is one thing, but testing the meaning and interpretation of the law is what this case is about and this is how law becomes more clearly defined.

      Sometimes one has to come up against the law and test it ; otherwise it is left up to boards and entities to interpret it from their perspectives.

      I myself have had this situation in which a board interpreted a law in a particular way because they choose to think that is what the LA meant.  To this day, I have not had a definitive answer because they insist on one interpretation, but because I had advice that took another position, it has been left hanging — unresolved with my position being regarded as legally dicey.

    • noname says:

      Since he was given irrevocable status by the former premier, are you surprised?

      • Anonymous says:

        Who says it is irrevocable?Certainly not the Law!

        • Anonymous says:

          The Law and at the time they were given did say so.

          • Anonymous says:

            “commission of a crime connected with or facilitated by the grant” constitutes grounds for revocation of a cabinet status grant.

            • Anonymous says:

              That amendment came after this AG received his status grant and therefore it has no effect in this instance.

              • Anonymous says:

                If it was unlawful, it was void and he never received it in the first place.

                Many legal minds think it was unlawful.

    • Anonymous says:

      If the AG and everyone would just follow the rules and law things would be different.  Christian should suit government.  The AG is playing favorites

    • Dred says:

      Let's never forget BT in 2009 where his voice could have been heard….let's never ever forget this also. He chose to take a vacation and then go silent.

    • Anonymous says:

      I guess you all are tired of destroying our first Premier, so you all have another person now. May God Almighty help you all with this scandalous and destructive mind.

  22. Knot S Smart says:

    If this – then that.

    If not that, then we wont talk about this.

    But if that – then it might or might not be this…

  23. Anonymous says:

    Nothing new here, this is just like the AG collecting salary for owing nothing!!!