Fisher Begins Legal Battle with Electoral Commission

The legal battle between the Director of Elections and the Electoral Commission of Jamaica, ECJ, began in the Supreme Court yesterday.

The attorney representing Director of Elections, Orette Fisher, told the Supreme Court the termination of his client’s services was illegal.

In his submissions, attorney-at-law, Hugh Wildman, asked the presiding High Court judge in the judicial review matter to quash the decision of the ECJ to end Mr Fisher’s tenure as the country’s Director of Elections.

Mr Wildman told the court the termination of Mr Fisher’s services was a breach of the Electoral Commission Interim Act.

Fisher, who was appointed in 2008, served seven years as Director of Elections. His service came to an end in 2015. That made the position vacant.

However, following a recommendation from the ECJ to the Governor General, Mr Fisher was appointed in the post for one-year in 2015 and then again for another one-year term in 2016. The following year, ECJ Chairman, Dorothy Pine McLarty informed Mr. Fisher his services were no longer needed.

Mr Wildman is contending that when his client was appointed in 2015, he should have, by law, been allowed to serve for seven years from that date.

This, as the Act states the Director of Elections should remain in the post for a tenure of seven years. As a result, Mr. Wildman argued the post of Director of Elections cannot become vacant until 2022. He’s also suggesting that the one-year contract the ECJ gave to Mr. Fisher should’ve indicated that he would have been serving in an acting role.

Mr Wildman contends the full appointment in 2015, though only for a year, under the provisions of the applicable law de facto meant his client was being appointed to serve for seven years.

Meanwhile, the attorney said Mr. Fisher had no reason to challenge the decision of the ECJ until the termination of his services in 2017.

Mr Wildman also told the court the argument that the ECJ had no consensus on who to recommend to fill the post of Director of Elections in 2015 cannot stand. He contends this is because once a recommendation is made to the Governor General for an appointment it would’ve indicated all members of the Commission were in agreement with who they wished to fill the vacancy.

The court is to determine whether the ECJ acted with legal authority when it decided against renewing Fisher’s contract at the end of his last year.