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Napa Valley contest: judge rules against challenger

Barring a surprise move, there will be no replay of the March 2 District 5 supervisorial race in November. On Thursday a judge issued a tentative ruling, rejecting Supervisor Mike Rippey's challenge to the March 2 results that saw him lose, by 108 votes, to Harold Moskowite.

The collective hearts of those in Courtroom B in Napa County's Historic Courthouse may have skipped a beat Thursday when Judge Peter Allen Smith said he was ready to rule from the bench. He made the declaration immediately following closing arguments, just before noon Thursday.

"My conclusion is that the high burden of proof has not been met," said the judge. "The conduct described did not affect the outcome of the election."

In a brief interview afterward, Judge Smith said when the parties return to court, Rippey's attorney will have the opportunity to argue against the decision. Although it is uncommon for a judge to reverse a tentative ruling, Smith said his decision "is subject to change, depending on what's presented." -- Judge to rule for Moskowite (NapaNews.com)

Thanks to a correspondent for the link.