Dead candidates remain on primary ballot

Jennifer Nelson
January 1, 2008
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The Indiana Court of Appeals examined state statutes to determine which apply when a candidate dies before the primary but wins the election, an issue the court hadn't tackled before.

In Dan Lockard v. Charles Miles and John Mullican, No. 84A04-0708-CV-493, Lockard challenged his loss to Charles Miles in the Terre Haute Democratic primary. Miles died April 18, 2007, nearly three weeks before the May 8 primary, and media in Terre Haute first reported his death April 19. Lockard and Miles were the only two candidates on the ballot for the Democratic Party primary for City Council District 6 seat.

After the election and pursuant to Indiana Code Section 3-13-1-8, the Vigo County Democratic chairman filed a notice of party caucus to fill a candidate vacancy because Miles couldn't run in the main election. At the caucus, John Mullican was chosen over three other candidates - including Lockard - to be the democratic nominee for the seat.

Lockard had filed a verified petition for an election contest, arguing that because Miles died, he didn't meet the residency requirements to run for office.

A special judge appointed to the case denied Lockard's petition, finding the issue wasn't whether Miles met the residency requirements but rather that proper statutory procedure following the death of a candidate before a primary election was followed.

The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed the judge's decision to deny Lockard's petition, citing this is an issue of first impression.

The Court of Appeals rejected Lockard's argument that Miles failed to meet the residency requirements under I.C. 3-8-1-27 so Lockard should have been declared the winner. Judge Nancy Vaidik wrote there are more specific state statutes - instead of the residency requirement statute - that address what happens when a candidate dies as opposed to becoming ineligible for office.

The statute on early candidate vacancies applies to Miles because he died more than 30 days before the general election. This statute states in I.C. 3-13-1-2, "A candidate vacancy that exists on a primary election ballot may not be filled for the primary election." Candidates' names may be removed from the general election ballot but not the primary ballot, wrote Judge Vaidik.

Because Miles' name could not be removed from the ballot, his name properly remained on the ballot. Voters who knew of his death still elected him into office, perhaps a testament that voters did not want Lockard to win, she wrote. Because Miles won, a caucus was triggered under Indiana statute, in which Mullican was elected as the general election democratic candidate.

"Because Lockard was defeated in the primary election and filed a declaration of candidacy for nomination by a caucus, and was defeated, Lockard was not eligible to become a candidate for City County District 6 in the 2007 general election," she wrote.

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  1. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  2. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  3. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.

  4. rensselaer imdiana is doing same thing to children from the judge to attorney and dfs staff they need to be investigated as well

  5. Sex offenders are victims twice, once when they are molested as kids, and again when they repeat the behavior, you never see money spent on helping them do you. That's why this circle continues