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. Where may I find an attorney working Pro Bono? Many issues with divorce, my Disability, distribution of IRA's, property, money's and pressured into agreement by my attorney. Leaving me far less than 5% of all after 15 years of marriage. No money to appeal, disabled living on disability income. Attorney's decision brought forward to judge, no evidence ever to finalize divorce. Just 2 weeks ago. Please help.

  2. For the record no one could answer the equal protection / substantive due process challenge I issued in the first post below. The lawless and accountable only to power bureaucrats never did either. All who interface with the Indiana law examiners or JLAP be warned.

  3. Hi there I really need help with getting my old divorce case back into court - I am still paying support on a 24 year old who has not been in school since age 16 - now living independent. My visitation with my 14 year old has never been modified; however, when convenient for her I can have him... I am paying past balance from over due support, yet earn several thousand dollars less. I would contact my original attorney but he basically molest me multiple times in Indy when I would visit.. Todd Woodmansee - I had just came out and had know idea what to do... I have heard he no longer practices. Please help1

  4. Yes diversity is so very important. With justice Rucker off ... the court is too white. Still too male. No Hispanic justice. No LGBT justice. And there are other checkboxes missing as well. This will not do. I say hold the seat until a physically handicapped Black Lesbian of Hispanic heritage and eastern religious creed with bipolar issues can be located. Perhaps an international search, with a preference for third world candidates, is indicated. A non English speaker would surely increase our diversity quotient!!!

  5. First, I want to thank Justice Rucker for his many years of public service, not just at the appellate court level for over 25 years, but also when he served the people of Lake County as a Deputy Prosecutor, City Attorney for Gary, IN, and in private practice in a smaller, highly diverse community with a history of serious economic challenges, ethnic tensions, and recently publicized but apparently long-standing environmental health risks to some of its poorest residents. Congratulations for having the dedication & courage to practice law in areas many in our state might have considered too dangerous or too poor at different points in time. It was also courageous to step into a prominent and highly visible position of public service & respect in the early 1990's, remaining in a position that left you open to state-wide public scrutiny (without any glitches) for over 25 years. Yes, Hoosiers of all backgrounds can take pride in your many years of public service. But people of color who watched your ascent to the highest levels of state government no doubt felt even more as you transcended some real & perhaps some perceived social, economic, academic and professional barriers. You were living proof that, with hard work, dedication & a spirit of public service, a person who shared their same skin tone or came from the same county they grew up in could achieve great success. At the same time, perhaps unknowingly, you helped fellow members of the judiciary, court staff, litigants and the public better understand that differences that are only skin-deep neither define nor limit a person's character, abilities or prospects in life. You also helped others appreciate that people of different races & backgrounds can live and work together peacefully & productively for the greater good of all. Those are truths that didn't have to be written down in court opinions. Anyone paying attention could see that truth lived out every day you devoted to public service. I believe you have been a "trailblazer" in Indiana's legal community and its judiciary. I also embrace your belief that society's needs can be better served when people in positions of governmental power reflect the many complexions of the population that they serve. Whether through greater understanding across the existing racial spectrum or through the removal of some real and some perceived color-based, hope-crushing barriers to life opportunities & success, movement toward a more reflective representation of the population being governed will lead to greater and uninterrupted respect for laws designed to protect all peoples' rights to life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness. Thanks again for a job well-done & for the inevitable positive impact your service has had - and will continue to have - on countless Hoosiers of all backgrounds & colors.

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