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Daniel Bows in Bid Against Board of Elections

Oct. 9, 2007 — A months-long court battle that delayed the start of the upcoming Constitutional Convention reached its last legs Tuesday as St. John resident Harry Daniel announced that he has dropped his challenge against local board of elections members.
Daniel explained during a press conference at his attorney's office on St. Thomas that several factors — including advice offered by his wife and his legal team — played a key role in his decision.
"We lost in the courts," he said. "And I still do believe that the board of elections did violate local law, disenfranchising myself and the voters. But the Constitutional Convention is much too important a process to be delayed any longer."
In the most recent twist in the convention saga, Clive Rivers, Daniel's attorney, filed a motion asking a panel of V.I. Supreme Court justices to reconsider the decision they made last month to dismiss Daniel's case in its entirety — a decision that prevented him from gaining a spot on the roster of Constitutional Convention delegates. According to the ruling, the justices' decision primarily centered on the legal doctrine of laches, which establishes a statute of limitations on how much time an individual has to file a claim.
The justices sided with arguments made by elections attorney Tamika Archer. Archer had said that Daniel received advanced notice through the media that board members had decided to revise the June 12th special election ballot, but that he had waited until after the election to contest the results. Had he filed his claim earlier, the board of elections would have had time to correct the problem instead of moving forward with special-election preparations.
Rivers subsequently contested the justices' ruling. He said they overlooked "several major facts" in the case. (See "Would-Be Constitutional Convention Delegate Asks Judges to Reconsider.")
Rivers reiterated his statement at the press conference as he lent his support to Daniel's decision to abandon the suit and allow the convention process to move forward.
Daniel's decision came two days after Supreme Court justices Rhys S. Hodge, Maria Cabret and Ive A. Swan denied Rivers' motion to reconsider the case.
Daniel said he plans on being an active player in the convention process, advocating alongside delegates for better representation for St. John. A potential increase in property taxes is a major issue for the small island, he said, and it should be one of the matters for consideration when a draft document is assembled.
"I want to see that the Constitutional Convention is adaptable to everyone, and gives everyone a chance to be represented," Daniel said. "But I also hope it gives St. John a chance to be in the spotlight."
Daniel added that his decision to end the legal battle had "been brewing" for "quite awhile," and was exacerbated by mounting legal fees. He also said there is no guarantee that another claim filed with the Third Circuit Court of Appeals would be settled soon.
"We've suffered enough over the past three or four months," he said. "Now, it's time for the Constitutional Convention to move forward."
On a positive note, Rivers said V.I. residents were given a chance throughout the case to see the flaws in the Elections System and how the court's decisions unfolded.
"The court decided to sidestep the election issues and center on the principal of laches," Rivers said. "The cost of a new election would have been very expensive, and the court had to justify that means in the end."
No official date has been set for the swearing in of Constitutional Convention delegates, which, by local law, was initially scheduled for July. Senators recently passed an amendment that called for swearing in ceremonies to begin Oct. 10, but it has yet to be signed into law by Gov. John deJongh Jr.
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Oct. 9, 2007 -- A months-long court battle that delayed the start of the upcoming Constitutional Convention reached its last legs Tuesday as St. John resident Harry Daniel announced that he has dropped his challenge against local board of elections members.
Daniel explained during a press conference at his attorney's office on St. Thomas that several factors -- including advice offered by his wife and his legal team -- played a key role in his decision.
"We lost in the courts," he said. "And I still do believe that the board of elections did violate local law, disenfranchising myself and the voters. But the Constitutional Convention is much too important a process to be delayed any longer."
In the most recent twist in the convention saga, Clive Rivers, Daniel's attorney, filed a motion asking a panel of V.I. Supreme Court justices to reconsider the decision they made last month to dismiss Daniel's case in its entirety -- a decision that prevented him from gaining a spot on the roster of Constitutional Convention delegates. According to the ruling, the justices' decision primarily centered on the legal doctrine of laches, which establishes a statute of limitations on how much time an individual has to file a claim.
The justices sided with arguments made by elections attorney Tamika Archer. Archer had said that Daniel received advanced notice through the media that board members had decided to revise the June 12th special election ballot, but that he had waited until after the election to contest the results. Had he filed his claim earlier, the board of elections would have had time to correct the problem instead of moving forward with special-election preparations.
Rivers subsequently contested the justices' ruling. He said they overlooked "several major facts" in the case. (See "Would-Be Constitutional Convention Delegate Asks Judges to Reconsider.")
Rivers reiterated his statement at the press conference as he lent his support to Daniel's decision to abandon the suit and allow the convention process to move forward.
Daniel's decision came two days after Supreme Court justices Rhys S. Hodge, Maria Cabret and Ive A. Swan denied Rivers' motion to reconsider the case.
Daniel said he plans on being an active player in the convention process, advocating alongside delegates for better representation for St. John. A potential increase in property taxes is a major issue for the small island, he said, and it should be one of the matters for consideration when a draft document is assembled.
"I want to see that the Constitutional Convention is adaptable to everyone, and gives everyone a chance to be represented," Daniel said. "But I also hope it gives St. John a chance to be in the spotlight."
Daniel added that his decision to end the legal battle had "been brewing" for "quite awhile," and was exacerbated by mounting legal fees. He also said there is no guarantee that another claim filed with the Third Circuit Court of Appeals would be settled soon.
"We've suffered enough over the past three or four months," he said. "Now, it's time for the Constitutional Convention to move forward."
On a positive note, Rivers said V.I. residents were given a chance throughout the case to see the flaws in the Elections System and how the court's decisions unfolded.
"The court decided to sidestep the election issues and center on the principal of laches," Rivers said. "The cost of a new election would have been very expensive, and the court had to justify that means in the end."
No official date has been set for the swearing in of Constitutional Convention delegates, which, by local law, was initially scheduled for July. Senators recently passed an amendment that called for swearing in ceremonies to begin Oct. 10, but it has yet to be signed into law by Gov. John deJongh Jr.
Back Talk


Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.