Judge’s associate pre-empted outcome of case, says lawyer

Main Stories, National

The National, Wednesday 03rd April 2013

 A JUDGE presiding over an election petition will rule tomorrow whether he should continue hearing the case.

This follows an application by a lawyer that Justice Colin Makail disqualify himself because an associate of his had made public the possible outcome of the case.

Makail was caught by surprise yesterday afternoon when lawyer Alfred Manase, representing Western Highlands Governor Paias Wingti, made the application to have the case heard by another judge.

Makail told the people inside Mt Hagen National Court that he was in the province to hear the election petition between Wingti and his predecessor governor Tom Olga.

“This short notice application is something new that I came across,” he said. 

“I was not aware of the application until today.”

Manase alleged that an associate of the judge had made a public announcement about the case which he reportedly said would be in favour of the petitioner.

He submitted that the trial judge disqualify himself from hearing the case because of bias. 

He sought orders that the trial be re-listed before another judge.

Manase told the court that the general perception of the public was that when an associate of the judge made such an announcement, it would influence the decision of the judge.

He made an application based on an affidavit filed by a Mathew Philip yesterday. Philip stated that on March 9, 2013 around 4.30pm, Charlie Markus, an associate of Justice Makail, told him at Imbokerre Lodge while under the influence of alcohol that Olga would win the election petition case.

Makail said the driver or an associate of the judge would not influence the decision of a judge.

He said his associate would be called on Thursday to verify the allegation before he would rule on the application.

Meanwhile, hundreds turned up yesterday to observe the case. Mt Hagen police, led by provincial police commander Supt Martin Lakari were present at the courthouse to provide security and made sure people behaved in an orderly manner.