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Mar 30, 2012

Schakron election petition request denied

The March seventh election may be behind us, but the battle is not over in a number of constituencies. The People’s United Party is filing applications for election petitions in at least four areas. This morning a decision was handed down in the case of Yolanda Schakron, the first petition that was filed. The drama unfolded inside the courtroom of Chief

Yolanda Schakron

Justice Kenneth Benjamin. If leave would have been granted, the P.U.P. would have sought to have the Lake Independence Election results voided. But the application was denied. Whether or not the returning officer Noreen Fairweather acted within her powers to reject the nomination of Schakron was questionable. But more uncertain is whether or not Schakron, who started the process of renouncing her U.S. citizenship, is in fact still a U.S. citizen. Before the merits of the case were discussed, News Five asked both Schakron and her attorney that question.


Jose Sanchez

“In regards to Miss Schakron with her issues of nationality, has she fully given up her U.S. citizenship? “


Lisa Shoman, Attorney for Yolanda Schakron

“I don’t think that is a question that I’m prepared to answer; that really is a question for her and she will decide how she will answer that.”


Jose Sanchez

“As your attorney said, we should ask you; Have you given up your U.S. citizenship, first thing?”


Yolanda Schakron, Appellant

“I would not like to comment on the US citizenship right now. I think that the case before us is more important. I will tell you that I will continue working with the Belizean people, I will continue working in this country, I will continue working against the injustices—Yolanda Schakron will go nowhere. I see the suffering of our people and I am here to work for the Belizean people and to serve the people of this country and make a better life for them.”


Lisa Shoman

Lisa Shoman

“The reasons for the decision are in two parts. The first on which we were quite successful is the proposition that the returning officer only has the right to look at the nomination paper to see that the nomination paper is in proper order. The court did accept that that is something that is very arguable and it is probably the right proposition. And it is only in very limited circumstances that the returning officer can look to anything else. The other issue is whether—the constitutional claim—whether it is the same or it is not. Obviously the Chief Justice took a position that the issues are substantially the same and that the parties are substantially the same and it is for that reason only that leave is being refused for Yolanda Schakron to file an election petition. We heard the arguments that Mr. Barrow made; they were good arguments. But we still hold to our position that they are not the same case; it is something different. And so we will be looking to see what our next steps are. However, I would like to repeat that we believe that the central premise was still very much the same. And it is important because these kinds of issues will arise to returning officers in the future and the fact of the matter is that the law is very narrow. The returning officer is not an election judge, cannot conduct the kind of inquiry that is needed to look into matters of disqualification and in the future if disqualifications arise, returning officers are not simply going to treat it the way that Noreen Fairweather treated this matter on Nomination Day. They will know the limits of their power and know that it is only a patent absurdity or a patent clarity, then therefore they can proceed. On that day, let’s be very clear, what was presented to Noreen Fairweather was photocopies of photocopies and allegations in the media and nothing more.  No exercise was conducted to see whether in fact and in law there was the disqualification claim and that has still not been established by the law as far as we’re concerned. A ruling handed down by Mister Justice Legall sometime on Friday—we had no notice of that ruling—and be that as it may, and an order was perfected on the very same Monday in which we were in Court. And if I am not mistaken; that was the twenty-fourth of March, Monday.  So therefore these are matters of which only at the last moment we had a ruling on and clearly you cannot appeal something that appears for you the same day that you are going into court on another matter.”


Jose Sanchez

“Your reaction to this morning’s judgment about Yolanda Schakron?”


Denys Barrow

Denys Barrow, Attorney for Respondents

“I’m very pleased. It was a response, a decision, which was predictably open to the judge. The submission was made to him so it came as no surprise. It was not to be presumed that that was how he would rule. But since he ruled in that fashion, it’s a very happy outcome.”


Jose Sanchez

“Regarding Noreen Fairweather; her role as the officer, he did made some comments it seems that she may have acted outside of her own powers as returning officer.”


Denys Barrow

“I was not present for the actual delivery, I was told about it. But I don’t know that the Chief Justice needs a conclusive determination. So he may have made observations as regards what was submitted to him, but he did not decide the case on that basis. And in fact because Justice Legall decided the previous case on basis; that the returning officer had the right to make the determination that she did, then I think one can accept that the Chief Justice accepted Justice Legall’s word on it as the word which presently prevails unless it is set aside.”

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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6 Responses for “Schakron election petition request denied”

  1. Be Real says:

    Why did Schakron not answer Jose Sanchez’s question about nationality?This is what has given rise to all of this legal mumbo jumbo

  2. me says:

    Is it that the PUP lawyers are no good at the laws of Belize? They seemed to be afraid of di barrow clan. Or is it dictatorship going on in our country? I am sooooooo curious, very very curious. If it were d PUP’s being taken to court, would d udp back down so fast? i dont tink so. rememba d uprisings? Belmopan, Albert Street, and Belcan, among others? U all makin dis barrow feel he is mightier dan d law? What precedence are we setting here?

  3. Buju says:

    Why are we wasting our time….

    This makes us look bad and the UDP’s are laughing at us!
    Lets put this behind us and move on as a party.

  4. CEO says:

    Belizean politics is growing up and maturing. Buju this is not a waste of time! Any country that is more developed than ours had to go through these growing pains to get where they are today.

    Even though our court system need much overhauling and much need to change within the system we thank God we have a court system that we can turn to for some form of justice.

  5. indy says:

    She refused to answer the question! Of course it is important she want to run for she must answer the question. So please Ms. Schakron answer the damm question if you want to run office. Are you a US citizen or not!

  6. Pontius Pilate says:

    That’s true. But the court system and the election machinery should not stoop low to the will power of the day. They should exercise a high degree of independence. They should be fair enough even if their ruling would bring down a government that came into power because of subverting the democratic process through bribery of the electorate and corrupt election clerks.
    I think Bzeans are feeling betrayed and hopeless with the political and judicial atmosphere in Belize.

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