Votelaw, Edward Still's blog on law and politics: December 2007 Archives

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December 31, 2007

Mississippi: Gov. appoints Wicker as Senator

The Clarion-Ledger reports: First District U.S. Rep. Roger Wicker was appointed by Gov. Haley Barbour to fill the Senate seat vacated by Trent Lott at a news conference in Jackson this morning. ...

Barbour’s decision will leave a new vacancy — this time in the U.S. House of Representatives that will have to be filled by a special election. ...

Meanwhile, the status of a dispute between state Attorney General Jim Hood and the governor over the timing of the special election is unclear.

Hood has said it should be within 90 days after the appointment. He has said he would file suit in Hinds County Circuit Court if the two men could not come to some agreement on the issue. -- Barbour names Wicker to Senate seat | clarionledger.com | The Clarion-Ledger

Iowa: Obama's GOTV operation

The Washington Post reports: In Sen. Barack Obama's Iowa headquarters, young staff members sit at computers, analyzing online voter data and targeting potential backers. They zip one e-mail to an undecided voter and zap a different message to a firm supporter. ...

If the Internet is like a big grocery store, Obama's aides made sure he appeared on every aisle. As some campaign workers built mailing lists and telephone trees according to political, professional and personal interests, others created the first groups and profiles on sites as varied as Eons, the MySpace for baby boomers, and LinkedIn, a site mostly for white-collar professionals.

They also used BlackPlanet.com, MiGente.com, AsianAve.com and GLEE.com -- the MySpace and Facebook for, respectively, the African American, Latino, Asian and gay online communities. They have posted more than 350 videos on his YouTube channel, twice as many as Clinton, and his videos have been viewed nearly twice as often as hers. Obama has more MySpace friends than any other Democratic candidate, and he lists more Facebook supporters than all other Democrats combined.

Looking ahead to caucus day, the campaign is setting up a "catch-all queue," in which caucus-goers could get an answer within minutes after texting a question such as "Where's my precinct in Des Moines?" -- Obama Tries New Tactics To Get Out Vote in Iowa - washingtonpost.com

Note: Another Post story explains that because of caucus rules, even one vote may make a difference as to who wins a delegate in a particular caucus.

But I wonder which numbers the networks will report -- the raw numbers or the number of delegates won? Or both?

December 29, 2007

Alabama: Gov. Riley may have violated campaign law with use of plane

The Montgomery Independent reports: It appears that Gov. Bob Riley's gubernatorial campaigns in 2002 and 2006 may have violated the state's Fair Campaign Practices Act by improperly reporting the use of corporate airplanes, and improperly reporting advertising and printing donations to the campaign.

In the 2006 campaign, Gov. Riley apparently failed to properly report the in-kind contributions of at least two corporate airplanes. In both cases, the aircraft used by Gov. Riley are listed as in-kind contributions from individuals and not from the corporations which actually own the airplanes.

Riley's campaign finance reports for the 2006 campaign list in-kind contributions for transportation totaling $7,929.47 from John Saint of Mobile. Saint is listed on the Secretary of State Web site as president of a number of Alabama corporations. When asked about the in-kind contributions Saint said he did not recall when Riley may have used his company's plane. He said: "Our plane gets used every day. A lot of charities use our plane for Angel Flights."

When asked if he had reimbursed his company for the Riley campaign's use of the plane, he said: "I don't recall." He said he would have to go back and look, but it would be after the first of the year. When asked who owned the plane he said JDC Support Services, Inc. and added: "I own the company." ...

Also, under Alabama law, there is no limit on campaign contributions from individuals, but corporate contributions, whether cash or in-kind, are limited to $500 per election cycle. Riley's name was on the ballot in only two election cycles in 2006, the Republican primary and the General Election. That means any corporate contribution more than $1,000 would appear to be unlawful. -- al.com's Printer-Friendly Page

Hat-tip to Doc's Political Parlor.

December 27, 2007

Election Data Services slices and dices the Census Bureau estimates

Election Data Services reports: New Census Bureau population estimates released today continue the changes in congressional representation first documented with last year’s population release. However, trends contained in the new data point towards new twists in population growth over the next three years and lead to a variety of potential scenarios by the time apportionment happens in 2010.

[The link on their website is the sentence that begins "Read the full press release ..."]

The good news for Alabama from EDS's projections is that we won't lose a congressional seat after the 2010 reapportionment.

It's the box office, baby

An AP story begins: Dig beneath the surface of the raucous Republican presidential race and you will find even deeper turmoil: Four in 10 GOP voters have switched candidates in the past month alone, and nearly two-thirds say they may change their minds again.

Well, folks, that's all about the change. Every Monday morning, I read the little article on page 2 of the Birmingham News about the "winners" of the weekend box office grosses for movies. Sometimes I have seen one of those movies, many time not. But even if it came in on top of the charts, I am not going to see "Alien vs. Predator: Requiem." On the other hand, if I a movie I want to see is not doing well, I may never get to see it. I recently have had to go far afield to the one theater in the area showing a particular movie. It might be gone within a week or two.

The same goes for the primary field. You can read pundit after pundit telling you that if Candidate X does not do well in the Iowa caucuses or the New Hampshire primary, Candidate X's campaign will be toast. Before I get to vote in the Alabama primary on 5 February, the "box office" in faraway Iowa or New Hampshire may have decided that show won't open in Alabama.

As the new movie title (I have not seen the movie yet) says, "There will be blood."

Alabama: profile of Fred Plump, plaintiff against Gov. Riley in election suit

The Birmingham News has a profile of Fred Plump, the plaintiff in the suit against Gov. Riley's appointment of a county commissioner: Fred Plump looks out for the underdog.

When a guy he knew was sure to get pummeled by friends in the neighborhood, Plump took a stand and walked him to safety.

"I knew they were wrong," Plump said. "So, I decided to walk this guy clean out of the neighborhood, stepping out with my neck on the line. When I saw things that were not right, I was always standing up for others."

Plump, of Fairfield, filed a federal discrimination lawsuit in the early 1970s when he sought to become a Birmingham firefighter after passing the firefighter's exam, but was passed over for a spot. -- Activist Fred Plump relishes fight with Gov. Riley over Jefferson County post- al.com

Disclosure: Mr. Plump is represented by Jim Blacksher and me in the suit against Riley.

December 21, 2007

Alabama: Woodruff files motion for reconsider in Supreme Court

The Talladega Daily Home reports: Attorneys for Talladega County Circuit Judge Chad Woodruff, attorney Buddy Campbell and members of the Talladega County Judicial Selection Committee have filed a motion with the state Supreme Court asking that body to reconsider a 7-2 decision essentially voiding Woodruff’s election.

In a Nov. 30 decision, a unanimous court held that a 2006 act providing for a gubernatorial appointment of Talladega’s third circuit judgeship was unconstitutional. Seven of the justices, however, held that the unconstitutional portion of the law was severable from the rest of it, meaning the position is to be filled by election in 2010.

Woodruff was elected in 2006 and sworn in in February of this year, after a circuit court ruling that the appointment language was unconstitutional and unseverable. This ruling was appealed and partially reversed by the Supreme Court.

Woodruff qualified for the office after the appointment bill had been passed by the Legislature but before it had been signed into law by the governor. -- Motion filed asking court to reconsider decision voiding Woodruff's election

December 17, 2007

Iowa: how the Demo caucuses work

The Washington Post reports: Training for the Iowa caucuses combines several of the miseries of adolescence, like studying for a driver's license and an algebra test and the SAT -- only this time in the company of cheerful, middle-aged Iowans in a senior citizens home. ...

Much has been written about the Democratic caucuses and how they work -- how they're not like the primaries of other states, how you have to show up and stand in a corner for your candidate and then maybe stand in another corner if your candidate isn't "viable" (meaning, said candidate doesn't have at least 15 percent support among people in the room). And how each of the 1,781 precincts has a different number of delegates to award, and the number of delegates a candidate gets is proportional to the number of people who show up at a high school gym on a freezing night in January to stand in corners.

Hence the crazy math.

And we haven't even gotten to the various envelopes. And the filling in of bubbles. And the pink and yellow forms. And the fact that, once in a while, there's a tie, so folks have to toss a coin. -- Caucus Math 101: Bring a Calculator - washingtonpost.com

December 15, 2007

Ohio: scrap 'em all, says the Secretary of State

The New York Times reports: All five voting systems used in Ohio, a state whose electoral votes narrowly swung two elections toward President Bush, have critical flaws that could undermine the integrity of the 2008 general election, a report commissioned by the state’s top elections official has found.

“It was worse than I anticipated,” the official, Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, said of the report. “I had hoped that perhaps one system would test superior to the others.”

At polling stations, teams working on the study were able to pick locks to access memory cards and use hand-held devices to plug false vote counts into machines. At boards of election, they were able to introduce malignant software into servers.

Ms. Brunner proposed replacing all of the state’s voting machines, including the touch-screen ones used in more than 50 of Ohio’s 88 counties. She wants all counties to use optical scan machines that read and electronically record paper ballots that are filled in manually by voters. -- Ohio Elections Official Calls Machines Flawed

December 14, 2007

FEC disallows ActBlue-rised funds for matching

AP reports: John Edwards cannot get federal matching funds for some $4.2 million raised through a Democratic Web site.

The Federal Election Commission decided Friday on a 4-1 vote that the money was not matchable because federal rules do not include those contributions.

About 53,000 Edwards supporters donated through the ActBlue site. The Web site gets dollars designated to any Democratic federal candidate. It then passes the money to the authorized committees of the candidates.

The Edwards campaign has said it always knew there could be a legal problem with the ActBlue money, so it never counted the funds toward the match it expects to get. -- Today on the Presidential Campaign Trail - Examiner.com

John Tanner leaves Voting Section

McClatchy Newspapers report: John Tanner, under fire for allegedly letting politics influence civil rights enforcement at the Justice Department, disclosed Friday that he is being removed from his job as chief of the Voting Rights Section.

Tanner became the latest casualty at the scandal-plagued Justice Department, which has claimed about a dozen top officials including Attorney General Alberto Gonzales in recent months.

For months now, Tanner has been enmeshed in congressional investigations into the alleged politicization of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division.

At the center of those inquiries was his role in approving a controversial, Republican-backed Georgia law requiring every voter in that state to produce a photo identification card.

His ouster, weeks after Michael Mukasey took over as attorney general, drew praise from former voting rights lawyers. -- Justice's voting chief is being removed - 12/14/2007 - MiamiHerald.com

TPM Muckraker has the text of Tanner's notice to his staff.

Scotland: Labour Party leader accept 950-pound illegal contribution

The Economist reports: FOR Gordon Brown, the party-funding scandal which has already claimed the job of the Labour Party's general secretary, Peter Watt, and threatens senior figures in the government shows no sign of going away. It has instead spread north to his native Scotland, where Wendy Alexander, Labour's leader in the devolved Parliament, is fighting to save her career.

The sum involved in Ms Alexander's case (£950, or $1,960) is comically small next to the more than £660,000 given to the Labour Party by David Abrahams, a Newcastle businessman, through intermediaries. Yet Ms Alexander, seen but recently as the Scottish Labour Party's shining hope, boobed tremendously. To finance her leadership campaign (which, since she was the only candidate, was not a costly affair) she raised £16,000, including £950 from Paul Green. A property developer who lives in the Channel Islands, Mr Green cannot vote in British elections, so accepting his cash was against the law.

Ms Alexander maintains that she was led to believe the money came from a Glasgow company controlled by Mr Green. But the company denies any knowledge of the donation. Mr Green insists it was a personal contribution, even brandishing a letter of thanks from Ms Alexander sent to his Jersey home. One head has already rolled: Charlie Gordon, a Labour Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) from Glasgow, who solicited Mr Green's donation, has resigned as the party's transport spokesman. But this has failed to pacify those such as Sir Alistair Graham, a former chairman of Westminster's Committee on Standards in Public Life, who believe that Ms Alexander should consider her position, too. -- Political donations | Not so darling Wendy | Economist.com

Argentina: US charges $800K went from Venezuela to Argentine presidential campaign through US

NPR reports:
U.S. prosecutors say participants in Argentina's election broke American law. Prosecutors say the new president, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, won with the help of $800,000 secretly sent from Venezuela. This comes under U.S. law because people on American soil allegedly took part in the transaction. Four people are accused. The president of the country that allegedly supplied the money, Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, calls the case a "fabricated scandal." The president who allegedly received it is not so happy either. -- NPR : U.S. Criticizes Argentina's Presidential Election

December 13, 2007

Iowa: can/will college kids actually in the caucus?

Michael Scherer writes on Salon's '08 Roadies blog: The clock is ticking on the Iowa caucuses, with just 22 days before zero hour, which means it's time to address the ever-present specter of electoral fraud. For decades, the Iowa caucuses have been relatively clean affairs, unlike in South Carolina, where muck rules. In part, this has to do with the process itself, which is so Byzantine that for Democrats it looks more like musical chairs than voting. (For those who want to understand how it works, see here and here.)

But there is a bad moon rising. For several weeks now, David Yepsen, the reigning dean of the Iowa political press, has been writing columns that portend evil on the horizon. At the end of November, he wrote a column titled "The Illinois Caucus," which led with these ominous words:

Barack Obama's campaign is telling Iowa college students they can caucus for him even if they aren't from Iowa. His campaign offers that advice in a brochure being distributed on college campuses in the state. A spokesman said it's legal and that 50,000 of the fliers are being distributed. The brochure says: "If you are not from Iowa, you can come back for the Iowa caucus and caucus in your college neighborhood."

Sounds scary and outrageous, right? It's not. Iowa law is very clear. Out-of-state students attending Iowa schools are allowed to caucus, as long as they don't also vote or caucus in their home state. Never mind what the "spokesman said." But this fact did not assuage Yepsen. He argues that the law is not the point. "These are the Iowa caucuses," he continues. "Asking people who are 'not from Iowa' to participate in them changes the nature of the event." -- '08 Roadies - Salon

Congratluations

Congratulations to my friends Gerry Hebert, Joe Rich, and Jon Greenbaum on being attacked by George Wills. Keep up the good work, guys. -- George F. Will - Paralyze The FEC? Splendid. - washingtonpost.com

December 8, 2007

Alabama: town files suit seeking to vacate a council seat

The Prattville Progress reports: Autaugaville officials have filed a suit in Autauga County Circuit Court seeking the re­moval of a town council member who has yet to resign her elected position although she has lived in another state for nearly two years.

According to a Complaint for Declaratory Judgment filed in November, Latanya Cyrus has missed 11 of 21 regularly sched­uled town council meetings held between the time she was elect­ed in 2004, and June 2007. She has attended no meetings since December 2005, according to the suit.

The court filing also con­tends that in June town officials sent a certified letter to Cyrus, who now lives in Dallas, Texas, asking that she voluntarily re­sign her seat. She failed to re­spond to the request. The suit asks that Circuit Court Judge John B. Bush declare the coun­cil member's seat vacant in or­der that a replacement can be named.

Mayor F.B. Ward said Thurs­day that the town took the legal action in order that Cyrus's re­placement could assume the seat far in advance of next year's election and become familiar with the administration of town government. -- montgomeryadvertiser.com :: Suit filed to remove absentee member from town council

Hat tip to Doc's Political Parlor.

Marshall Islands: opposition leader claims illegal vote counting

Pacific Magazine reports: Opposition leaders in the Marshall Islands accused the government of illegally counting hundreds of ballots 10 days after all other domestic votes had been tabulated, erasing victories of four opposition candidates in closely fought races, with the incumbent ruling party candidates winning. ...

But adding to the confusion over who has won and lost, nearly three weeks after the election, the government¹s Electoral Administration has not issued a final unofficial result, and the government¹s official Web site has not updated since incomplete preliminary results were posted November 27, although all votes have now reportedly been counted.

Poor management of the election on November 19 and tabulation delays and lack of timely release of voting data to the public have marred the national election, the eighth since constitutional government began in 1979.

Opposition Aelon Kein Ad (Our Islands) party officials said they still had the required 17 senators-elect to form a government when Parliament meets in early January, and will also file court challenges to what they say was improper ballot counting nearly three weeks after the vote. -- Pacific Magazine: Marshalls Election Mess Gets Worse

December 6, 2007

Alabama: Election commission still planning on an election in Jefferson County

Doc's Political Parlor reports: Sid Browning, Supervisor of Elections for Jefferson County, told the Parlor this week that the county is preparing to hold a special election on February 5th though the Governor has already appointed a replacement to fill the vacated County Commission seat. Larry Langford created the vacancy when he left the commission after winning the Birmingham mayor’s race. Governor Bob Riley has already appointed George Bowman to serve in the seat, but his authority to do that is being challenged in court by Fairfield resident Fred Plump.

The Jefferson County Election Commission “would be remiss not to prepare for the election” given the 1977 Act that, in the Commission’s understanding, calls for an election to replace Langford, said Browning. A 2004 law authorizes the governor to fill county commission vacancies by appointment but excludes counties, such as Jefferson, with their own rules for special election. Riley’s administration claims that the 2004 law voids the 1977 law that specifies Jefferson County fills vacancies with elections.

The Riley administration has lost a similar case in Mobile County pending appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. Browning told the Parlor that he sees no substantive difference between the Mobile County and Jefferson County cases. -- Two Trains Going Down Two Tracks

Robo-calls may be irritating, but should they be regulated?

CQ Politics reports: Prerecorded calls offering negative information about every Republican presidential hopeful except former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee caused a bit of an furor in Iowa this week, and Congress just might keep stirring the pot.

The House Administration Subcommittee on Elections is considering whether political dial-a-voter messages ought to abide by the same “do not call” list limits as commercial telemarketers. Lawmakers are concerned that some groups are using the calls to deliberately mislead voters and that the abuse could depress voter turnout.

A spokesman for Zoe Lofgren , D-Calif., the subcommittee’s chairwoman, said she may try to add such a provision to a pending bill (HR 1383) seeking stricter limits on the so-called robo-calls.

During a hearing Thursday, Lofgren said a Pew Internet and American Life Project report indicated that roughly two-thirds of Americans received the prerecorded calls during the weeks preceding last year’s election. -- Congress Takes New Legislative Interest in Political ‘Robo-Calls'

Virginia: GOP voters must sign a pledge [or maybe not]

The Washington Post reports: The loyalty pledge to the Republican Party that Virginia voters will be required to sign if they vote in the state's GOP presidential primary on Feb. 12 is another attempt by the party to police the open primary system.

On Feb. 12, a GOP primary voter will have to sign a piece of paper that says, "I, the undersigned, pledge that I intend to support the nominee of the Republican Party for President."

Party officials said Wednesday they are worried that Democrats and independents have infiltrated past GOP nominating contests. The state does not require voters to register by political party, which means a voter can decide on the day of the primary whether to participate in the Republican or Democratic primary.

Political analysts say it is rare for a partisan voter aligned with one party to vote in the other party's nominating contest. But some conservatives say Democrats and independents helped Sen. John W. Warner (R-Va.) win his 1996 primary against James C. Miller III. In 2000, Arizona Sen. John McCain (R) urged Democrats and independents to vote for him in Virginia's GOP presidential primary. But McCain lost to George W. Bush by 59,000 votes. -- Virginia GOP Gets Strict on Voting - washingtonpost.com

Update (6 Dec 2007) from Rosanna Bencoach, Policy Manager, Virginia State Board of Elections: The party’s State Central Committee on 11/30 voted to not require a pledge, overturning the request made by the party’s Chairman a few weeks earlier. The request to rescind the party’s previous request for a pledge still needs to be submitted to the State Board of Elections and formally acted on by the Board at its next meeting on 12/20.

The state law allowing the political parties to request that presidential primaries be held also allows the party to require such a pledge (Code of Virginia § 24.2-545). The provision was put in the law to allow for different and changing national party rules on delegate selection and binding. Pledges are not allowed or required in Virginia primaries for other offices, but may be (and have been) required by party rules for non-primary nominating events. Virginia has open primaries, and any voter may vote in either primary (but not in both primaries held on the same day).

To try to clear up confusion in various articles, some reporters stated that the requirement to sign the pledge before receiving the ballot was “unenforceable.” In fact, it was the content of the pledge – the promise to support the party’s nominee for president in the upcoming election – that was unenforceable. If the pledge had not been rescinded, local election officials would have been instructed that they could not provide the Republican primary ballot to any voter until they had signed the required pledge, as was last done in the 2000 Republican presidential primary in Virginia.


December 5, 2007

Florida: Judge dismisses Nelson suit over presidential primary date

The Palm Beach Post reports: A federal judge this afternoon rejected U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson's lawsuit against the Democratic National Committee, ending Florida Democrats' likely last hope of having the Jan. 29 presidential primary count toward selecting delegates.

"Florida has to comply with the same rules and procedures as everybody else, and does not get to have its own way," said U.S.District Court Judge Robert Hinkle following an hour-long hearing.

Nelson's lawyer, Kendall Coffey, said he was "disappointed" by the ruling but that doubted Nelson would appeal. ...

DNC lawyer Joe Sandler argued that the national party has the right to enforce the schedule it has set to maintain order in its primary process. "There's only one way the party can do it, and that's to refuse to seat their delegation," Sandler said. -- Federal judge says Florida must comply with DNC rules

501(c)(4) groups are involved in campaigns

The Washington Post reports: Nonprofit groups created to educate the public and lobby on issues have started inserting themselves into the presidential primaries, adding an unexpected wild card to wide-open elections in both parties.

The groups provide a new avenue for routing millions of dollars into an election cycle already awash with spending by traditional political organizations. The nonprofits are competing with the campaigns for voter attention, especially in early-voting states such as Iowa and New Hampshire, and their advertising, phone calls and mailings could help diffuse the candidates' own messages. ...

The nonprofit groups, known by the designation 501(c)(4) because of the tax code section that applies to them, have been around for decades. They have long been a force influencing Congress and state legislatures. Conservatives have extensively used them over the past decade to help gain support during debates over legislation.

This year, these nonprofits have already started to encroach on turf that has been dominated by political parties, political action committees and, in the past few elections, by independent political groups created under section 527 of the IRS code. The latter groups spent $685 million in 2004 trying to influence voters with everything from antiwar messages against President Bush to ads sponsored by a group of Swift Boat veterans that questioned the heroism of Democratic presidential nominee John F. Kerry. -- Nonprofits Become A Force in Primaries - washingtonpost.com

Alabama: Cooper appeals, asks for expedited appeal

The Birmingham News reports: Patrick Cooper's appeal challenging Larry Langford's election as Birmingham mayor may be argued before the Alabama Supreme Court by mid-January, one of Cooper's lawyers said Tuesday.

Cooper filed notice last week that he would appeal a Jefferson County judge's ruling upholding Langford's Oct. 9 election, when he won 50.3 percent of the vote in a 10-person race.

On Tuesday, Circuit Judge Allwin Horn ordered an expedited deadline of Dec. 12 to prepare the trial transcript and court record and file it with the Alabama Supreme Court, said Jim Ward, one of Cooper's lawyers.

Ward said he plans to ask the Alabama Supreme Court to fast-track the schedule for Cooper's and Langford's sides to file briefs. -- Patrick Cooper wants appeal to be fast-tracked in suit challenging Larry Langford's election as Birmingham mayor- al.com

South Dakota: Charles Mix Co. and Indian plaintiffs settle VRA case

Press release from ACLU: In a historic agreement reached today with the American Civil Liberties Union, a South Dakota county has agreed to federal supervision of its elections through 2024. The settlement resolves a 2005 ACLU lawsuit charging Charles Mix County with discriminating against Native American voters in violation of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.

“This is a landmark settlement,” said Bryan Sells, a staff attorney with the ACLU's Voting Rights Project and the lead attorney on the case. “It will protect Native American voting rights in Charles Mix County for many years to come."

Under the settlement, approved today by U.S. District Judge Lawrence L. Piersol of Sioux Falls, the county is required to get approval from the federal government before implementing new voting laws in the county through 2024. The settlement also authorizes federal election observers to monitor county elections through 2014 and requires the county to pay $110,000 in attorneys’ fees and expenses.

Today’s agreement stems from a dispute over the districts used in elections for county commissioners. In November 2001, the ACLU wrote to the county on behalf of the Yankton Sioux Tribe complaining that the county’s districts violated the one-person-one-vote principle of the Fourteenth Amendment and diluted Native American voting strength by splitting the Indian community into two districts. Although state law required the county to redraw districts in February 2002, the county commission voted to leave its then-current districts in place.

A copy of the Consent Decree was attached to the press release: Download the file here.

December 1, 2007

Alabama: Supreme Court holds for electing a judge -- just not yet

The Talladega Daily Home reports: In a 7-2 decision published Friday, the Alabama Supreme Court voided the election of Chad Woodruff to the office of Circuit Judge Place 3, overturning a circuit court ruling from February.

Chief Justice Sue Bell Cobb and Justice Tom Parker dissented.

The majority of the court agreed the provision of a 2006 act filling the third judgeship by gubernatorial appointment rather than by an election was unconstitutional, but went on to find that the appointment language was severable from the rest of the act, meaning the office is to be filled by election in 2010. ...

During the 2006 regular session of the Legislature, a bill was introduced and passed that would further delay filling the position until 2009, when the governor would make an appointment based on the recommendation of the Talladega County Judicial Selection Committee. That candidate would then stand for election the following year.

Woodruff qualified for the office and was certified as the Democratic Party’s candidate after the 2006 act had passed both houses of the Legislature but before it had been signed into law by the governor. He ran unopposed that November and won more than 14,000 votes. -- Daily Home - State Supreme Court voids election of judge

Alabama: 3-judge court appointed for Plump v. Riley

The Birmingham News reports: A three-judge panel will preside over the federal lawsuit of a Fairfield man who is challenging Gov. Bob Riley's recent appointment to the Jefferson County Commission.

The federal judges are Chief Judge Mark E. Fuller and W. Harold Albritton III, both on the bench of Montgomery's U.S. District Court, and Rosemary Barkett, a former Florida Supreme Court chief justice now a member of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, court records show. The designation of Albritton and Barkett to serve with Fuller was ordered by J.L. Edmondson, chief judge of the appeals court in Atlanta. -- Panel of judges will hear suit challenging Bob Riley's appointment of Jefferson County commissioner- al.com

Disclosure: Jim Blacksher and I represent the plaintiff in this case.