ILNews

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. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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