BVI News

Court to decide on D4 dispute on May 2

Representative-elect of the Fourth District, Mark Vanterpool.

Justice Ann-Marie Smith is set to rule on whether Mark Vanterpool will be sworn-in as the Fourth District Representative in the next two weeks.

“Judgement will be ready on the 2nd of May,” Justice Smith said at the High Court on Thursday.

Vanterpool’s attorney Patrick Thompson recommended the May date. He told at the time of the recommendation that the two-week timeframe was not meant to delay or, “to detract from the urgency of the matter”.

Who will pay legal fees?

In the meantime, the issue of which party will be responsible for paying any legal fees associated with the case will be decided on the same day. Both parties have hired prominent lawyers to defend them.

Vanterpool’s team consists of Thompson and Queen’s Counsel Edward Fitzgerald of the UK while Willock retained the services of Veritas Law, a firm owned by Valston Graham — the Director of Public Prosecutions in St Kitts. Anand Ramlogan and Jared Jagroo are the attorneys of that firm representing Willock’s interests.

Willock’s attorneys contend that Vanterpool clearly wanted to resign when he sent the letter addressed to the Clerk of the House of Assembly. They’ve therefore argued that a by-election ought to be held for District Four.

Meanwhile, Vanterpool’s attorney argued that he had no constitutional right to resign when he did. They also said their client’s resignation was constitutionally invalid because it was not addressed to the Speaker of the House.

The controversy started on March 5 after Vanterpool, who won the Fourth District seat, submitted the resignation. After submitting the letter, he was advised that the letter should have been addressed to the Speaker of the House and not the Clerk.

Vanterpool then had a change of heart and now wishes to be sworn-in. However, Willock acknowledged the letter and refused to have Vanterpool sworn-in.

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25 Comments

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  1. whitney says:

    The only one who has to fight for his seat twice (at the polls and in the courts).

    Like 3
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    • Strupps! says:

      Yes. That’s because everyone else showed on the appointed date to be sworn in.

      Mark on the other hand was too busy RESIGNING.

      Like 33
      Dislike 5
    • hmm says:

      He did not fight for his seat at the polls it was seat waiting for him there but his ignorance make him have to fight for it in the court now.

  2. Blah says:

    That goes to show all the internet lawyers that the case is not so straight forward as they think it is. The verdict should have been ready in minutes if the constitution’s note regarding the letter addressed to speaker was the ultimate deciding factor.

    Like 32
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    • me says:

      the magistrate needs time to deliberate on both arguments, examine established precedent aka figure it out. its not a one day process, you need to stop watch judge joe brown and pick up a book

      Like 14
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      • Blah says:

        Dont be an idiot. Y’all are the ones quoting the constitution about letter should be addressed to the speaker. If the judge has the letter from Mark that was addressed to the clerk then by all of the internet lawyers logic the case is as simple as just taking a look at the letter and confirming who it was addressed to and once again reviewing the now famous quote from the constitution. The fact that it will take over 2 weeks to determine the verdict shows that the constitution’s clause is not the ultimate deciding factor as the majority of y’all was saying.

        Like 15
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    • .... says:

      @ Blah…Indeed!

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  3. Egor says:

    JW really expect MV to bear the costs when he explicitly stated at the last HOA to take the matter to Court.

    He seems to have forgotten his official statement on the matter, “My position, as outlined in my letter sent to Mr. Mark H. Vanterpool dated 13th March, 2019 remains the same. I have sought and received legal advice from prominent jurists locally, regionally and from the United Kingdom and Canada.

    However, because this constitutional matter is weighty, it would be prudent at this juncture to seek the opinion of the courts in the interest of fairness, transparency, and best practice as the Honourable Attorney General, of whom I have the highest respect, has advised myself, the Governor and Mr. Vanterpool of his position.”

    JW you are NOT the Great as you so egotistically refer to yourself.

    Like 11
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    • I think says:

      It will probably seen as a case in the public interest so that the costs issue will probably be a draw

    • Hey Egor says:

      JW ego is what is going to be his downfall. He is learning and picking up C——— the Pr———- nasty ways. Andrew is playing Preimer role. Preimer of the BVI, Cl——-. Deputy Primer, JW.

  4. facts says:

    easy win for the esteemed speaker ya ya

    Like 11
    Dislike 11
  5. Quiet Warrior says:

    Virgin Islands Constitution 2007, as per sec 67 (3) (a) which states,“An elected member of the House of Assembly shall also vacate his or her seat in the House– (a) if he or she resigns it by writing under his or her hand addressed to the speaker.” The HOA was dissolved on or about 23 January 2019, election held on 25 Feb 2019 and resignation letter submitted to Clerk of HOA on or about 05 March 2019. The resignation process is weak and needs updating.

    The HOA was dissolved so in essence there was no Speaker to submit resignation letter to. But that is a non-issue. Mark, as the D-4 Representative-elect had the right to resign. The constitution cannot stop anyone from resigning. The theory of Mark’s case comes to intent.

    Mark’s 05 March resignation letter clearly demonstrated his intent to resign. Further, he through social media and other media announced he had resigned. Additionally, by not showing up to be sworn on 12 March 2019, he behaved like he resigned; he was in the territory, he was not incapacitated and he was apprised of the swearing in date so he deliberately didn’t show up on 12 March to be sworn in. Moreover, Attorney General Baba Aziz opinion that Mark’s resignation letter was invalid is a red herring and not well-reasoned.

    Moreover, this is a political, not a legal issue. As such, the learned jurists should let the people solve this issue. I’m confident that if D-4 voters knew on 25 Feb that Mark was going to resign on 05 March they may have voted for someone else or stayed away from the polls. The court should not disenfranchised D-4 voters; it should let them vote again in a by-election. Mark claimed that nuff people asked him to recant his resignation so he may indeed win again in a by-election. A by-election is a win-win for both Mark and the process.

    Like 23
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  6. Who to blame says:

    Mark Vanterpool I blame you for this debacle. Despite how annoyed we may all be with the speaker for pressing on with this proceeding versus simply swearing you in; YOU created this. I hope you ALWAYS remember the part you played. If and when you are allowed to hold your seat, please do us all a favor and hold a steady head once and for all. Neither the district nor the territory has time for any of this.

    Like 14
    • RealPol says:

      No doubt Mark’s erratic behaviour is the cause of this electoral “Pappy Show.” Election held on February 25 and you resigned on March 05. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot! If the judge rules that he be sworn in, how long will it be before he gets a wild hair up his a..s and resign again? How dedicated will Mark be in representing D-4 residents, since he has already telegraphed his lack of interest? Well, at least he cared enough about the people, he resigned. But erratic behavior returned, for he recanted. The people can do without this emotional roller coaster. Let the people vote.

      Like 18
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  7. 2 Grand says:

    what is to be will be

  8. Voter from d 4 says:

    The people supports the speaker’s position

    Like 8
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  9. @Quiet Warrior says:

    Stop right there at “an elected member of the HOA”. Mark was not yet sworn in so could have not resigned from a post he had not officially held at the time of his letter.

    Also note that even if Mark was deemed a member, there is a specified number of times one may be absent from HOA prior to be considered as having vacated their seat.

    Tenure of seats of members of House of Assembly

    67.—

    (1) Every elected member of the House of Assembly shall vacate his or her seat in the House at the next dissolution of the House after his or her election.

    (2) Notwithstanding that a member of the House of Assembly has vacated his or her seat by virtue of subsection (1), every such member shall be entitled to continue receiving the benefits and privileges of a member until the polling day for election for a new House of Assembly, provided that such benefits and privileges shall cease if the member fails to win a seat at the general election.

    (3) An elected member of the House of Assembly shall also vacate his or her seat in the House—

    (a) if he or she resigns it by writing under his or her hand addressed to the Speaker;

    (b) if he or she is absent from the sittings of the House for such period and in such circumstances as may be prescribed in the Standing Orders of the House;
    (c) if he or she ceases to be qualified for election;
    (d) subject to subsections (4), (5) and (6), if any circumstances arise that, if he or she were not a member of the House, would cause him or her to be disqualified for election as such by virtue of any provision of section 66(1) other than paragraph (f); or

    (e) subject to subsection (7), if he or she becomes a party to any contract with the Government of the Virgin Islands for or on account of the public service or if any firm in which he or she is a partner, or any company of which he or she is a director or manager, becomes a party to any such contract, or if he or she becomes a partner in a firm, or a director or manager of a company, which is a party to any such contract

    Like 2
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    • Quiet Warrior says:

      @@Quiet Warrior, here is what I said: “Mark, as the D-4 Representative-elect had the right to resign. The constitution cannot stop anyone from resigning. The theory of Mark’s case comes to intent.”

      • joseph says:

        True: but the constitution provides a proper and correct way to resign–addressed to the Speaker. As such Mr. Vanterpool failed to do so appropriately.

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  10. Sly Mongoose says:

    What is the time period for holding the by-election?

  11. Just my 2 cents says:

    Intention cannot be the deciding factor. If your argument is based on his public pronouncement and submission of an invalid letter, then as a learned individual, you must recognized that his true intention was not to resigned (as demonstrated by his follow-up action, vis-a-vis, refusal to resubmit a subsequent letter correctly addressed, and his request to be sworn in).

    In deliberating and issuing a judgement, these are the matters to be considered and most likely will be by the learned Justice:

    1. Did the elected representative had capacity (or a right) to resign?

    2. Could reliance be placed on the submitted letter of resignation and or pronouncements made by the elected rep to resign – was it valid?

    3. Was there undeniable intent by the elected representative to resign?

    4. Was there capacity (by the speaker) to accept the letter even though it was addressed to the clerk?

    5. Is there an existing vacancy in D4 thus a need for a Bi-election?

    6. Should the elected representative be sworn in?

    A summarized response upon careful analysis of the aforementioned from arguments proposed by both parties is simplified here-under:

    1. NO. He was not a member so he could not have resigned. He was within his right to refuse to represent the district (but due process had to be followed)

    2. Yes. He was not a member, and most importantly, the letter’s addressee was incorrect (and unconstitutional)

    3. Yes if he was a member (and only after being sworn in). Unfortunately, since he wasn’t and he exercised his right to retract because it was invalid, there was NO intent.

    4. NO. He could not accept an invalid document. The court cannot find his acceptance of an ‘invalid document’ valid

    5. NO. The elected representative is not disqualified, deceased or otherwise incapable of representing the district and has opted to represent the people of the district. Therefore, there is no vacancy and no need for a bi-election. (For argument sake, what if the court rule in the Speaker’s favour, however the Governor, because he is the only authority to call a bi-election, chooses not to accept the ruling and seek further legal advise?)

    6. Despite the perceived callous or selfish action by the elective rep, the Justice’s focus is not on wishes or feelings, but on the principles of the law. The rep therefore has to be sworn in. (The only other alternative is for the the Justice to refer the matter to the House for determination. Unfortunately, since that option was not initially explored but bypassed, the Justice has no other alternative but to rule in the elected rep’s favour.

    Time to continue with the peoples’ business in the House and not wasting tax-payers fund on useless personal vendetta.

  12. On your Mark get set go or not says:

    Mark should just stay resigned. Enjoy his formative years… He has done nothing for the 4th district. Look at Road Town. It needs a complete cleaning. It would be very disappointing if he goes back in.

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