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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court for Defendants Michael Telesca and Rocco Frank, Jr. in this battle between the Danbury faction and the Waterbury faction over the control of the state’s Independent Party, holding that the trial court’s decision was timely and that the trial court properly construed Conn. Gen. Laws 9-374. In its decision, the trial court ordered Secretary of State Denise W. Merrill to accept candidate endorsements made pursuant to the 2010 bylaws of the Independent Party of CT-State Central - which, together with its officers, led the Danbury faction and filed the complaint - which, in effect, gave the Waterbury faction control over the Independent Party’s statewide nominations. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the trial court’s order of supplemental briefing and oral argument concerning its subject matter jurisdiction preserved its personal jurisdiction over the parties by stopping and later restarting the decision period, thus rendering the court’s decision timely; and (2) the trial court properly determined that section 9-374 rendered the 2010 bylaws controlling, as opposed to bylaws that the Danbury faction had previously filed with the Secretary. View "Independent Party of CT-State Central v. Merrill" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court dismissed this writ of error brought by the plaintiffs in error seeking to protect their rights with respect to the judgment of the trial court that was challenged on appeal in Independent Party of CT-State Central v. Merrill, __ A.3d __ (Conn. 2019), holding that the writ of error was moot. In its judgment, the trial court resolved a dispute between the Danbury and Waterbury factions of the state’s Independent Party by granting declaratory and injunctive relief directing Secretary of State Denise W. Merrill to accept only those endorsements made pursuant to the party’s 2010 bylaws. The plaintiffs in error were thirteen candidates for the state House of Representatives endorsed by the Danbury faction prior to the trial court’s decision. The endorsed candidates argued that the writ of error was moot because of the Secretary’s unchallenged decision to accept the Danbury faction’s endorsements with respect to twelve of them. The Supreme Court dismissed this action, holding (1) the writ of error was moot; and (2) the defendant in error’s separate request for relief was not properly before the Court. View "Independent Party of CT-State Central v. Merrill" on Justia Law

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The New Mexico Secretary of State sought to reinstate straight-ticket voting in the November 2018 general election. A coalition of voters, political parties, and political organizations (Petitioners) sought mandamus relief from the New Mexico Supreme Court to order the Secretary to stop and make no further efforts to reinstate the straight-ticket option on grounds that she did not possess authority to do so. "Whether straight-ticket voting shall once more be a ballot option in general elections in New Mexico is a policy question for our Legislature. The Legislature cannot delegate election policy determinations." The Court concluded the Secretary’s efforts without legislative approval violated separation of powers principles and was unlawful. The petition for writ of mandamus was therefore granted. View "Unite New Mexico v. Oliver" on Justia Law

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Adams, a resident and member of the State Bar of Delaware, wanted to be considered for a state judicial position. Following the announcement of several judicial vacancies, Adams considered applying but ultimately chose not to because the announcement required that the candidate be a Republican. Because Adams was neither a Republican nor a Democrat, he concluded that any application he submitted would be futile. Adams challenged the Delaware Constitution's provision that effectively limits service on state courts to members of the Democratic and Republican parties, citing Supreme Court precedent: A provision that limits a judicial candidate’s freedom to associate (or not to associate) with the political party of his choice is unconstitutional. The governor responded that because judges are policymakers, there are no constitutional restraints on his hiring decisions. The Third Circuit ruled in favor of Adams, concluding that judges are not policymakers because whatever decisions judges make in any given case relates to the case under review and not to partisan political interests. The portions of Delaware’s constitution that limit Adams’s ability to apply for a judicial position while associating with the political party of his choice violate his First Amendment rights. View "Adams v. Governor of Delaware" on Justia Law

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The Dawsonville City Council voted to remove W. James Grogan as mayor in May 2017. Grogan sought review of the removal by filing a direct appeal and a petition for certiorari with the superior court. Grogan continued to serve as mayor pending the appeal, and the City then filed counterclaims against Grogan for attorneys’ fees and for money had and received to recoup salary paid and other benefits provided to Grogan if the City prevailed before the superior court. Grogan moved to dismiss the City’s counterclaims under Georgia's Anti-SLAPP statute. The superior court dismissed Grogan’s appeal of the removal decision, found his certiorari petition was “procedurally defective,” denied his motion to dismiss the City’s counterclaims, and granted partial summary judgment on the City’s money-had-and-received counterclaim. Grogan argued to the Georgia Supreme Court he had the right to a direct appeal to the superior court and that his certiorari petition was not procedurally defective. Grogan also argued the superior court erred in denying his motion to dismiss under the Anti-SLAPP statute because the City’s counterclaims were filed to punish Grogan for exercising his constitutional rights to petition and free speech and the City did not establish a reasonable probability of success on the merits of those counterclaims. Furthermore, Grogan argued the court erred in granting relief to the City on its money-had-and-received counterclaim because it lacked subject matter jurisdiction over that claim and failed to apply the voluntary payment doctrine. The Supreme Court concluded it had jurisdiction over this appeal, but did not consider Grogan’s challenges concerning the superior court’s dismissal of his appeal and certiorari petition from the removal decision because those claims were now moot. The Court determined the trial court erred in granting relief to the City on its money-had-and-received counterclaim. View "Grogan v. City of Dawsonville" on Justia Law

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Tommie James Ivy Sr. filed an election contest against William Randle Jr. and the Democratic Executive Committee of the City of Okolona, Mississippi following the primary election of the Democratic nominee for the office of city marshall. A special tribunal rendered judgment in favor of Ivy, ordered a special election and excluded Randle from the special election. Randle appealed, and Ivy cross-appealed. After review, the Mississippi Supreme Court found the special tribunal properly determined that a special election was required but improperly held that Randle was excluded from being a candidate. View "Randle v. Ivy" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court invalidating the Secretary of State Corey Stapleton’s (Secretary) act of certifying the eligibility of the Montana Green Party to nominate candidates for election to public officers in Montana, holding that the district court did not erroneously invalidate eighty-seven signatures due to noncompliance with Mont. Code Ann. 13-10-601(2). Plaintiffs filed this complaint seeking declaratory judgment that the Secretary’s Green Party certification was invalid due to noncompliance with section 13-10-601(2). The district court invalidated the certification and enjoined the Secretary from giving any effect to the Green Party ballot eligibility petition. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Plaintiffs’ claim for declaratory and injunctive relief challenging the legal sufficiency of the petition and the Secretary’s certification of the petition stated a cognizable claim for relief; (2) Plaintiffs’ claim did not involve a non-justiciable political question; (3) the Montana Democratic Party had legal standing to challenge the petition and the Secretary’s resulting certification thereof; and (4) the district court did not err in invalidating eighty-seven signatures due to noncompliance with the statute. View "Larson v. Secretary of State" on Justia Law

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In these two election contests, the Supreme Court held that 350 absentee mail-in return envelopes were “received” by the Honolulu City Clerk after the deadline established by state law, and therefore, the ballots they contained should not have been counted, thus invalidating the result of the Honolulu City Council District IV special election. The special election at issue was for councilmember for District IV held on November 6, 2018. At issue in these election contests was the 350 absentee mail-in return envelopes, which the City Clerk at the Honolulu Airport post office did not take possession of until after 6 p.m. on election day, retrieving them instead from the mail facility in pickups that occurred at 6:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. The Supreme Court held that the ballots should not have been counted, and because they exceeded the twenty-two-vote margin by which the election was decided and because they were commingled with other ballots that were validly cast, the only option was to invalidate the result of the special election. View "Waters v. Nago " on Justia Law

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In this election contest for a city council seat the Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the court of appeals affirming a sanctions award, vacated that award, and then dismissed the appeal of the election contest as moot, holding that the appeal was moot to the extent it challenged the election results but that the award of sanctions was an abuse of discretion. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the contestee, the candidate who received the most votes, and declared the contest the winner of the election. The court then awarded sanctions against the contester, the losing candidate, and her attorney for bringing frivolous claims. The court of appeals affirmed. The contester and her attorney appealed again, challenging the election and sanctions. Meanwhile, the contestee was reelected and began his second term in office. The Supreme Court held (1) the election contest is now moot, and no exception to the mootness doctrine applies; and (2) the trial court abused its discretion in sanctioning Appellants for making non-frivolous arguments, and the court of appeals erred in affirming the sanctions. View "Pressley v. Casar" on Justia Law

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During the course of the 2016 political campaign to represent the 49th Congressional District, challenger candidate Doug Applegate's campaign ran two television advertisements about incumbent Darrell Issa that Issa contends were false and defamatory. Issa filed a lawsuit against Applegate, Doug Applegate for Congress, Inc., and Robert Dempsey (the respondents), alleging libel based on statements made in these two television advertisements. The trial court granted the respondents' anti-SLAPP motion and entered judgment in favor of the respondents on Issa's complaint. Issa appealed. While "[i]t is abhorrent that many political campaigns are mean- spirited affairs that shower the voters with invective instead of insight[,]" in order "to ensure the preservation of a citizen's right of free expression, we must allow wide latitude." The Court of Appeal ultimately concluded the trial court properly granted the respondents' anti-SLAPP motion because Issa could not demonstrate the statements about which he complained were demonstrably false statements of fact. View "Issa v. Applegate" on Justia Law