Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Shalimar Ali-Hack, SC, has filed proceedings in the High Court to quash a decision by Magistrate Leron Daly to conduct a Preliminary Inquiry (PI) into the electoral fraud charges against Deputy Chief Elections Officer (DCEO) Roxanne Myers.
On February 11, last, the Magistrate ruled that the two charges for misconduct in public office against Myers will remain indictable which would require her to conduct a PI to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to warrant a trial in the High Court.
The charges against Myers alleged that between March 4 and March 14, 2020, in Georgetown, while being a public officer, she wilfully misconducted herself together with Region 4 Returning Officer Clairmont Mingo and others, to declare a fraudulent account of votes for the March 2020 General and Regional Elections which amounted to a breach of the public’s trust in the office of the DCEO of GECOM.
She was granted $300,000 bail on her first court appearance back in October 2020. Among other things, the DPP, in judicial review proceedings, is seeking an order of certiorari quashing the decision of Magistrate Daly on the basis that it is irrational, unreasonable, arbitrary, ultra vires, without legal foundation, contrary to the natural justice and without legal authority.
In court documents seen by this publication, the DPP submits that the charge against Myers is classified in criminal procedure as a hybrid offence which can be heard and determined either indictable or summary- heard and determined by the Magistrate’s Court.
The DPP said that the Magistrate in her ruling stated that the charges against Myers were serious and should be heard indictable, likening the offences to charges for robber under-arms. The DPP added that Magistrate Daly in her oral reasons expressed concerns about the maximum penalty that could be imposed by the Magistrate’s Court and effectively stated that the summary court could not be able to punish adequately for the offences.
The DPP, however, contends that Magistrate Daly failed to consider that the High Court could impose no greater penalty than the Magistrate’s Court on any conviction for the offences and erroneously proceeded on the basis that the High Court could in certain circumstances impose a greater penalty for offences charged than was possible for a Magistrate to impose.
The DPP further contends that the decision of Magistrate Daly offends Article 144 (1) of the Constitution of Guyana which provides that all criminal cases should be afforded a fair hearing within a reasonable time. As such, the DPP is further seeking an advisory declaration that in the circumstances of the charges and in compliance with the Constitution and a fair trial that the charges against Myers proceed by way of a summary trial.
High Court Judge Franklin Holder is expected to rule on the DPP’s application this Friday.
Shortly after the PPP/C Government took office in August 2020, the Police launched investigations after receiving formal reports of alleged criminal conduct by Chief Elections Officer (CEO), Keith Lowenfield, Myers, Mingo, other GECOM staffers, and members of the APNU/AFC in relation to the March 02, 2020, General and Regional elections and the events that followed thereafter.