Division at GECOM over tabling of legal opinion by legal advisor

– Commissioner wants probe, as questions raised over hiring of CCJ lawyer

Her job includes providing legal advice to the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), but on Tuesday, Legal Advisor Excellence Dazzel’s tabling of a legal opinion requested by a Commissioner nevertheless landed her in hot water.

GECOM’s lawyer before the CCJ, Stanley Marcus, SC

The legal advice pertains to the voter’s list that expired last month and was requested by Opposition nominated Commissioner Bibi Shadick. According to Government nominated Commissioner Desmond Trotman, the tabling of the opinion was done without the permission of the full Commission.
According to Trotman, the matter is before the court. He noted that Shadick said she put together her request for an opinion since April, but added that there was no indication of a draft being formulated.
While he admitted that any Commissioner could make a request from staff for something, acting on that request depends on the entire Commission meeting. He said the Chairman will eventually determine whether an investigation is warranted.
But while Trotman had objections to the legal opinion being offered without the input of the Commission, he had no such issues with the unilateral hiring of Senior Counsel Stanley Marcus, who represented GECOM before the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) in the case of Christopher Ram v the Attorney General of Guyana, the Leader of the Opposition and Joseph Harmon.

GECOM’s Legal Officer Excellence Dazzel

“The Commission as a body would not have made that decision, but the Chairman would have been the person to maybe advise that we go in that direction… I think it had to do with time, time constraints. So the Chairman, I believe, on behalf of the Commission, (acted),” Trotman said.
“Shadick raised the question of payment (for the lawyer). And what the Chairman has said, is that no bill has been presented to the Commission so far. I think what happens is that each member of the legal fraternity names their own price,” he added, when asked how much was being paid to Marcus.

GECOM Commissioner
Bibi Shadick

Meanwhile, Shadick herself informed the media that despite the retention of Marcus by GECOM, questions about how much he is being paid are not being answered by the GECOM Chairman, retired Justice James Patterson.
“I don’t know how much money he is getting, God knows. I have (been questioning), but I’m not getting any answers. And no decision was taken here, no discussion was done. So things are happening without the Commission having any idea,” Shadick said.

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GECOM lawyer under scrutiny

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GECOM Commissioner, Desmond Trotman

…reportedly passed on information to Shadick without permission

GUYANA Elections Commission (GECOM) Commissioner, Desmond Trotman, is calling for an investigation to be launched into what he referred to as an “act of deceit” on the part of the commission’s legal officer.

Coming out of Tuesday’s statutory meeting which saw the commissioners reducing the backlog of minutes up to May 7, 2019, Trotman stated that legal opinion had been offered by the legal officer to Opposition-nominated Commissioner, Bibi Shadick, without permission.

The legal officer at the commission is Attorney-at-Law, Excellence Dazzell.
According to Trotman, Dazzell provided her opinion on the state of the list or registrants without sanctioning from the commission.

“There was a request of Commissioner Shadick some time ago about her [Dazzell] offering her opinion on a matter. We had never agreed on the commission that this should go forward. But suddenly, last night I saw, for the first time, there was some correspondence from her [Dazzell] which included a memo on this matter. Because, as far as I know, there was no agreement on that, I raised it today as a matter of concern,” the commissioner explained.

It was at the same forum that Trotman expressed that based on the looks of the situation, some form of “deceit by the legal officer” was at hand.

“One has to be concerned that this opinion that she has offered has to do with the fact that there’s a challenge in the court on the house-to-house registration exercise,” Trotman said.
He added: “The legal adviser is offering an opinion that Shadick requested on what to do now that the list has expired on April 30, 2019. Normally, any commissioner can request anything but, for it to be acted on by one of the staff members, it has to be agreed on by the commission.”

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