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COA: Candidate remains on ballot

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The Republican winner of the primary election for Indiana House of Representatives District 74 will remain on the ballot for the general election, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled today.

Charles R. Wyatt challenged Republican candidate Susan Ellspermann’s declaration of candidacy for the primary election. In her declaration, she certified she’s affiliated with the Republican Party because she voted as a Republican in the most recent prior primary election, but she had actually voted as a Democrat in the 2008 election.  

After discovering her vote, she filed an amended declaration. Ellspermann’s motion to reconsider failed as well as Wyatt’s challenge to her candidacy because votes on those motions split 2 to 2. By Indiana Election Commission rules, she remained on the ballot and beat her challenger, Angela Sowers.

Before the election, Wyatt filed suit in Marion Superior Court, but the court didn’t rule before the election. It denied his request for a preliminary injunction and denied both parties’ motions for sanctions. Wyatt appealed the denial of his request for injunctive and declaratory relief; Ellspermann appealed the denial of her request for attorney’s fees.  

Wyatt failed to meet his burden of showing by a preponderance of the evidence that the public interest would not be disserved by granting the preliminary injunction, wrote Senior Judge Patrick Sullivan. He noted if the Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Wyatt, it would nullify the primary election results.

Caselaw has held that the purpose of election law and the courts are to secure voters an opportunity to freely and fairly cast ballots and prevent disenfranchisement. The statute at issue in this case doesn’t provide that compliance with its provisions is essential to a valid election. Ellspermann testified that she had forgotten she had voted as a Democrat in the 2008 primary and she historically had voted Republican. Wyatt didn’t submit any evidence to counter her explanation.

“Under these circumstances, the irregularity in Ellspermann’s declaration and any misconstruction of Indiana Code section 3-8-2-7 by the IEC or the Marion Superior Court cannot justify reversal of the trial court’s denial of a preliminary injunction because it would contradict the will of the electorate and disenfranchise voters,” wrote Judge Sullivan in Charles R. Wyatt, et al. v. Thomas E. Wheeler, et al., No. 49A02-1006-PL-636.

The judges also found even if the per se rule applied to this case, which it does not, it wouldn’t provide grounds for reversal because Wyatt would still have to show that the issuance of the injunction wouldn’t be contrary to the public interest. They also affirmed the denial of declaratory relief because if they rule that the IEC and Marion Superior Court had misapplied the relevant statutes, then Ellspermann’s victory would be invalid. That outcome would violate the purpose of election laws, wrote Judge Sullivan.

The Court of Appeals affirmed denial of Ellspermann’s request for attorney’s fees and denied her request for appellate attorney’s fees.

 

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  1. For many years this young man was "family" being my cousin's son. Then he decided to ignore my existence and that of my daughter who was very hurt by his actions after growing up admiring, Jason. Glad he is doing well, as for his opinion, if you care so much you wouldn't ignore the feelings of those who cared so much about you for years, Jason.

  2. Good riddance to this dangerous activist judge

  3. What is the one thing the Hoosier legal status quo hates more than a whistleblower? A lawyer whistleblower taking on the system man to man. That must never be rewarded, must always, always, always be punished, lest the whole rotten tree be felled.

  4. I want to post this to keep this tread alive and hope more of David's former clients might come forward. In my case, this coward of a man represented me from June 2014 for a couple of months before I fired him. I knew something was wrong when he blatantly lied about what he had advised me in my contentious and unfortunate divorce trial. His impact on the proceedings cast a very long shadow and continues to impact me after a lengthy 19 month divorce. I would join a class action suit.

  5. The dispute in LB Indiana regarding lake front property rights is typical of most beach communities along our Great Lakes. Simply put, communication to non owners when visiting the lakefront would be beneficial. The Great Lakes are designated navigational waters (including shorelines). The high-water mark signifies the area one is able to navigate. This means you can walk, run, skip, etc. along the shores. You can't however loiter, camp, sunbath in front of someones property. Informational signs may be helpful to owners and visitors. Our Great Lakes are a treasure that should be enjoyed by all. PS We should all be concerned that the Long Beach, Indiana community is on septic systems.

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