Justia Election Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Maryland Court of Appeals

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In this challenge to the 2018 primary election ballot, the Court of Appeals held that the State Board of Elections was required to apply the deadlines set forth in the state election law and follow the directives of the Election Law Article concerning the content of a primary election ballot. Oaks, a state legislator, filed a timely certificate of candidacy for the 2018 primary election. Oaks subsequently pled guilty to two felonies in federal court. Appellees filed this suit against the State Administrator of Elections to have Oaks’ name removed from the ballot. Arguing that Oaks' potential prison sentence would render him disqualified before the general election, Appellees filed a motion for an injunction to compel the State Board to remove Oaks’ name from the ballot. Oaks then gave up his voter registration, and the circuit court issued the requested injunction, an action that was contrary to the Election Law Article. The Court of Appeals vacated the circuit court’s preliminary injunction, holding (1) the State Board was required to apply the deadlines set forth in the state election law and follow the statutory directives in composing the 2018 primary election ballot; and (2) those directives were constitutional as applied to retain Oaks’ name on the primary election ballot. View "Lamone v. Lewin" on Justia Law

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In this election contest, the circuit court properly granted Defendants’ motion to dismiss on the grounds that Appellant's petition was untimely filed under Md. Code Ann., Elec. Law (EL) 12-202(b) and barred by the doctrine of laches. More than six months after the 2016 general election, Appellant filed a petition seeking to have the candidacy of the successful candidate for the position of judge of the Circuit Court for Prince George’s County decertified. Appellants filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that the election claims were untimely under EL 12-202(b) and barred by the doctrine of laches. The circuit court granted the motion to dismiss. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) the petition was untimely filed under EL 12-202(b) because Appellant did not file the petition until more than six months after the election and more than one year after Appellant became aware of the facts that served as the basis for the election claims and several months after the election results were certified; and (2) independent of the statutory limitations period set forth in EL 12-202(b), the petition was barred by the doctrine of laches because Appellant unreasonably delayed in asserting her rights, and that delay prejudiced Appellees. View "Ademiluyi v. State Board of Elections" on Justia Law

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In this election contest, the circuit court properly granted Defendants’ motion to dismiss on the grounds that Appellant's petition was untimely filed under Md. Code Ann., Elec. Law (EL) 12-202(b) and barred by the doctrine of laches. More than six months after the 2016 general election, Appellant filed a petition seeking to have the candidacy of the successful candidate for the position of judge of the Circuit Court for Prince George’s County decertified. Appellants filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that the election claims were untimely under EL 12-202(b) and barred by the doctrine of laches. The circuit court granted the motion to dismiss. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) the petition was untimely filed under EL 12-202(b) because Appellant did not file the petition until more than six months after the election and more than one year after Appellant became aware of the facts that served as the basis for the election claims and several months after the election results were certified; and (2) independent of the statutory limitations period set forth in EL 12-202(b), the petition was barred by the doctrine of laches because Appellant unreasonably delayed in asserting her rights, and that delay prejudiced Appellees. View "Ademiluyi v. State Board of Elections" on Justia Law

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Ian Schlakman and Frank Richardson (Appellees) filed suit challenging the decisions of the Baltimore City Board of Elections to certify Dan Sparaco as an eligible candidate and the State Board of Elections to include him as a candidate for the District Twelve seat on the 2016 General Election ballot. The court held that the temporary restraining order the Circuit Court granted was in error because Appellees’ state court challenges to the Boards’ actions were untimely and are barred by laches; Appellees have not explained this delay, or explained why they did not institute a parallel action in the Circuit Court within the statutorily-mandated time limits; where the federal court dismissed Appellees’ action because Appellee’s counsel was not admitted to practice before that court, the savings provision under Maryland Rule 2-101(b) did not apply to toll Appellees’ obligation to file in the appropriate circuit court, as instructed by ELEC. LAW 12-202(b)(1); and Appellees have not demonstrated any basis for relief on the merits under any theory of action or avenue for relief. The court explained that the plain language of ELEC. LAW 5-703(d)(1) does not require candidates to submit the required filings until the first Monday in August preceding the General Election. In this case, the City Board’s certification of Mr. Sparaco as a qualified candidate, and the State Board’s listing of his candidacy, complied with the provisions of the Election Law Article. Accordingly, the court vacated the temporary restraining order and remanded. View "Lamone v. Schlakman" on Justia Law

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Appellants brought this action just weeks before the 2016 general election seeking to compel the State Board of Elections and the Baltimore City Board of Elections (collectively, Appellees) to establish a special system for “inmate voting” in the City for the general election. The circuit court denied the request for a broadly worded temporary restraining order (TRO), concluding that the complaint had been untimely filed. One day before the 2016 general election, the expedited appeal was argued before the Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals dismissed the appeal as moot, holding that even if the Court were to find that Appellants were entitled to a TRO with respect to the 2016 general election, there was no way such an order could have been implemented as a practical matter. View "Voters Organized for the Integrity of City Elections v. Baltimore City Board of Elections" on Justia Law

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The complaint in this case was brought both individually and as a class action. Plaintiffs, a police union and others, asserted that Montgomery County, a charter county, was not authorized to use its fiscal and human resources to urge approval of a law enacted by the County Council that limited bargaining rights and that had been petitioned to referendum. The circuit court concluded that the government speech doctrine does not constitute an affirmative authority for government to advocate and spend money on political campaigns. The Court of Special Appeals, however, concluded that the County had inherent power to use properly appropriated funds for a governmental purpose and that advocacy on the non-partisan ballot measure was a governmental purpose. The Court of Appeals agreed, holding that a charter county is authorized to use its resources to encourage the electorate of the County to support or opposed a measure that may have a significant impact on the operations of the County government. View "Fraternal Order of Police v. Montgomery County" on Justia Law

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County Council enacted a bill providing that Appellant forfeited his councilmanic position, concluding that Appellant had moved his residence from his councilmanic district to a correctional facility in South Carolina after having been convicted of failing to file a federal tax return. Appellant challenged the authority of the County Council to expel him as a member based upon its interpretation of the term "residence" in the County Charter as a "temporary place of abode." The circuit court granted summary judgment for the County and County Council. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding that "residence" in the Charter embodies the notion of domicile, such that Appellant did not move his residence by virtue of his five-month incarceration. View "Jones v. Anne Arundel County" on Justia Law

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Tiffany Alston, a former member of the Maryland House of Delegates, was removed as a delegate after she was convicted and sentenced for misconduct in office. Before Alston fulfilled the conditions of her sentence, the assistant attorney general declared her removed from her House seat by operation of law. Gregory Hall was nominated to fill Alston's seat. While Hall's nomination was before the Governor, the Governor requested that the Democratic Central Committee of Prince George's County (Central Committee) withdraw the nomination. Hall filed a complaint seeking to prevent the withdrawal of his nomination. Alston filed, as an intervener and third-party plaintiff in the same case, a separate complaint seeking a declaration that she had been merely suspended, rather than removed, from her House seat because her conviction and sentence had been converted into probation before judgment. The circuit court ruled (1) Alston had been removed by operation of law on the date she was sentenced for her misconduct in office conviction; and (2) the Central Committee had the power to rescind Hall's nomination at any time before the Governor made the appointment. The Supreme Court affirmed, finding no error in the circuit court's judgment. View "Hall v. Prince George's County Democratic Cent. Comm." on Justia Law

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The Town of Oxford introduced a resolution proposing to annex a number of acres of submerged lands. Petition circulators subsequently submitted a petition for referendum regarding the proposed solution. The petition was submitted before the public hearing on the annexation resolution but before the final enactment of the resolution. The Town Commissioners determined that the signatures affixed before final enactment of the resolution were invalid, and therefore, a referendum was not required. Petitioner filed this action, contending that the referendum petition was valid. The circuit court granted summary judgment in favor of Petitioner, holding that signatures on a referendum petition may be collected before final enactment of the targeted annexation resolution. The court of special appeals reversed. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) the court of special appeals was correct in concluding that, pursuant to Md. Code Ann. art. 23A, 19, petition signatures gathered after introduction, but prior to commencement of the forty-five day period after final enactment of the resolution, could not be counted toward petitioning the resolution to referendum; and (2) by not counting pre-enactment signatures, the referendum effort did not succeed in obtaining a sufficient number of petition signatures for a referendum election to be held. View "Koste v. Town of Oxford" on Justia Law

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This was the latest in a series of opinions by the Court of Appeals involving the constitutional provision and the implementing legislation authorizing a limited number of slot machines at specified Maryland facilities, including facilities in the area of Anne Arundel County (County). A County zoning ordinance authorized slot machines in certain areas of the County. The circuit court determined that the ordinance was not subject to referendum under the County charter. On appeal, the Court of Appeals (1) held the circuit court's judgment was appealable, as (i) the Legislature no no intention of applying the non-appealability principle of Md. Code Ann. Cts. & Jud. Proc. 12-302(a) to cases under the Election Article, and (ii) where the Election Article authorizes judicial review but is silent regarding an appeal, Md. Code Ann. Cts. & Jud. Proc.12-301 authorizes an appeal; and (2) reversed the circuit court's judgment and remanded with instructions to order that the ordinance be placed on the ballot at the general election in accordance with the referendum provisions of the County charter, holding that the ordinance was simply a local ordinance re-zoning an area, and as such, it was not exempt from a referendum. View "Citizens Against Slots At The Mall v. PPE Casino Resorts Md., LLC" on Justia Law