Thursday, November 15, 2007

So the fat lady has sung for Williams

Aside from the bruhaha that has erupted in the NOLA blogosphere in response the mailer that went out at the end of last week blasting Cheryl Gray, the Williams camp has been trucking along with the election challenge in the Senate District 5 race. Last Friday the Fourth Circuit ruled 6-5 to affirm the trial court's decision of no cause of action. Yes, only 11 opinions, as Chief Judge Armstrong had to excuse herself due to ties to the Williams family. Judge Tobias, who agreed to affirm, wrote something interesting:

I find that the plaintiff's petition states a cause of action. Ergo, the trial court was in error granting the peremptory exception of no cause of action. Given the time constraints for election contests set forth in La. R.S. 18:1409, the plaintiff/appellant was obligated to proffer the evidence that he would have presented at the trial of the merits of his case. When the trial court refused to allow the plaintiff/appellant to proffer the evidence, something the trial court was required by La. C.C.P. art. 1636 to do, the trial court again erred as a matter of law.
Basically, Judge Tobias cited that the trial court was wrong in it's decision, yet upheld the result because he alleged that Williams should have sought a writ of mandamus. The failure to do so caused Williams to lose the suit in this Fourth Circuit judge's opinion.

Of further interest is the opinion of Judge Lombard, who concurred with the majority opinion, but offered:
I am, however, disturbed by the allegation of a voter canvass conducted by the Secretary of State on election day. Such activities, if true, have a chilling effect on the voter, discouraging and often denying a citizen's constitutional right to vote.
Although ruling simply on the proceedings of the trial court, both judges displayed obvious doubt. And appeared to be perturbed by the allegations.

Judge Murray wrote a lengthy dissent, of note:
I believe the irregularities alleged by the petitioner herein are sufficiently serious to potentially affect the outcome of the election. Therefore, the trial court erred by dismissing the petition on the basis of the exception of no cause of action. Whether the petitioner is able to prove his allegations remains to be seen, as he was precluded from putting on any evidence in the trial court.

Judge Cannizzaro agreed with the above, but also dissented Judge Tobias's opinon, In conclusion, he wrote
I recognize a need for swift justice in cases involving elections. Notwithstanding, the overriding concern should be to ensure that the will of the electorate is constitutionally protected.

I think that about sums it up. Sure, you can claim that Williams is a whiner and should just suck it up. One blogger even alleged that he should simply support Cheryl Gray (see the comments). Unfortunately, it's not that simple. You're going to tell me that when you miss the run off by 50 votes and a candidate that was placed in the race to draw votes away from you, who was left on the ballot without notice to the voters after his withdrawal received approximately 1500 votes, you wouldn't contest that? I know the blogosphere holds a hollier-than-thou attitude, but seriously. That's 10% of the votes. When notices were posted for candidates' withdraw from different races, that withdrew closer to election time than Andrew Gressett (forgive me, I cannot recall the notices I saw at this time). Its sort of odd, don't you think?

Due to some confusion involving all parties, the paperwork to the Supreme Court was denied by a mere matter of minutes. Then the appeal of that was shot down 2-5. So the judicial system has served us all well again. Instead of simply taking the trial, Judge Medley at the CDC invoked the bureaucracy of the system to shut the case down. Williams was never able to present his evidence. 1500 votes were thrown out. The Clerk of Court doesn't see a problem with that, nor does the majority of the courts.

I know it was a tough case based on the sensitive nature, but politics never ceases to amaze.

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